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I have an issue at the moment where one of my colleagues is taking all the credit for work they had little to no part in, and I worked hard on for a long time.

Until now I’ve just let it slide, but I definitely feel this hasn’t been the right approach. I don’t mind getting confrontational, but I’m wondering if there’s a more tactful way I can suggest they back off and shut up, and instead let the people who did the hard work take some of the praise (not only me, but also others).


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    I had a colleague systematically take credit for my work a few years back. It started as him doing it behind my back, then to continue the lie he was forced to do it in front of me, then to again continue the lie he was forced to do it in a presentation in front of everyone. That was where it all fell apart - our boss called him on it and made it clear in front of everyone that he’d been taking credit for my work.

    That was a satisfying day.

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        I don’t know, to me it seems he should at least have a private chat with the guy in question, at least as a first step. If that fails to achieve anything, I hate to suggest to take it up a level but maybe a private chat with the immediate superior could help.

        At least that’s the order in which I’d attack things.

        [edit] At least to me that way seems like it would respect the chain of command without making the guy feel under attack, which is probably something that wouldn’t help the team dynamics, even if it ends well.

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          Depending on the manager, it might be good to begin with seeking context from your manager. Not a formal complaint, but a question: is there’s something else going on which might make this behavior make sense? From there, I’d proceed with olivier’s advice. A good manager will appreciate the warning and also that you want to solve this problem on your own.

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            I guess a private chat is the most civil thing to start with. I dunno why I haven’t so far, maybe I’m just too angry at them.

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          You’re unlikely change your colleague, but you may have success in changing the flow of information. Be first in line to share your work before someone else does.

          Without much background on the work being done or the environment, it’s tough to advise further. I can tell you that as a developer consultant, I rarely run into this issue. There’s no question who did my work when my name is in the commit log or the code review, or when I’m the one reporting it in a status meeting or standup.

          Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments. Sometimes people do what the OP described because no one is sharing and they want the group to have more visibility.

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            The problem with being a junior at the company is that they won’t fly me around to conferences in the same way, and I certainly can’t afford to myself. And that’s how they do most of their own self-promotion.

            I’m perfectly willing to say various things were my accomplishments as part of a team, but I certainly couldn’t have done them alone, which is the general sentiment on the team, which is why one person stealing our thunder is so aggravating.

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            Just know that any suppressed feelings or emotions will come out in uglier forms in the future. Join perspectives, don’t silo yourself.

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              I’d think talking directly to the person in question would be the first step. Even before posting it on the internet asking for advice ;)

              Maybe the person doesn’t know or you aren’t getting the full story. In some cases, it might seem like that person is taking full credit when they are singing you praises and that message is just getting squashed by someone else.

              Talk to the person, that’s what you should do.

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                I do not think that asking in our small niche of the internet would be a bad idea. Programmers are by nature of their trade a creative work force and most of us have been ripped off at least once in our career. It is how you deal with it that matters and what you do after.

                You are correct that he should know the full story before hand. Most of the times it only makes you angrier though, regardless of who is actually responsible and why. I would move away from an environment where ‘credit’ issues pop up due to ‘misunderstandings’. There are no misunderstandings and there are no coincidences in credit matters.

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                Does the issue of “credit” just have to do with giving talks at conferences? If so, does this person acknowledge you as a contributor in the talk? If not, that is unacceptable and you should bring it up directly with him or her.

                If so, then I’d argue that this person isn’t stealing thunder but doing marketing that somebody needs to do (and only one person can do). I’d love to have someone else spend 13 hours on a plane just to present my work!

                Now, if others are getting opportunities to speak on joint work and you aren’t, that’s not cool. Make it clear to management that this is important to you. They might be at fault here.

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                  The advice that has been presented so far is interesting, but here is another take before you decide: Is the person doing this more connected than you in the workplace you are working? If that is so, forget trying to prove that to that niche because nobody will care. People who do this kind of stuff regularly are not without experience in getting away free. Unfortunately for you and any original creative thinker / worker.

                  Discussing with the person won’t change anything but make you grow more angry. You have to understand that you cannot make the offender accept his offense through reason and proper argumentation because he already knows what you are after: he will try to make you more angry through this and attempt to ridicule you in front of your other colleagues.

                  The only way you can win such a situation would be if you had undeniable proof that what you have been working on has been completed by you. If that exists and you wish to go nuclear, ask yourself whether a legal avenue would provide a satisfactory solution to your issue; my opinion is that in questions of ‘credit’, that avenue is not a solution.

                  My advice would be to change environment as soon as possible; not that you won’t be dealing with the same problem elsewhere, but this experience you have already had, should now give you the initial mental tools for being more cautious next time. You cannot be creative if you are to have your work ripped off by somebody either because a notable figure (and can do any transgression and still considered a hero) or because you were the “new guy in the room”. These things happen.

                  Be smart; don’t fall prey to emotion because you are never going to win otherwise.