Mansy is taking the credit for Femsy’s hard work in a special project assignment. She decides to address the issue with Mansy in a face-to-face meeting.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size)

A great leader:

  • Is assertive and puts her points across in a calm and self-assured manner.  She expresses her feelings and needs in a specific, composed and respectful way;
  • Is open and honest in her dealings with others and builds empathy and trust;
  • Has the courage to speak out with integrity even in challenging circumstances.

How to best handle the situation:

This is a sensitive situation so you need to think carefully about your objectives and what outcome you want to achieve in the face-to-face meeting.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to get an appreciation of why is he/she doing this.  What has been going on for him/her?  What pressures is he/she facing?  How can you help him to achieve his goals?

You should aim for a constructive and productive conversation.  Be prepared to give him/her clear and precise feedback about his/her behavior and its impact on you.  Rather than say ‘you take credit for all my work in this assignment’ give specific examples of exactly what happened, for example, ‘During the meeting you presented the report as yours and did not acknowledge the input that I made.  When the MT praised you for your hard work, again you neglected to say that it was I who worked long hours, did the research and compiled the results.’

Listen attentively to what the other person is saying in response to your feedback, and try to ask open questions to prompt them to open up.  This way you will get a better understanding of his/her perspective and situation.  Consider how you might have contributed to the situation; how assertive have you been in your interactions with this person?  Have you sought feedback on your performance to get his/her read of how you are doing, what he/she values and what he/she would like to see more or less of from you?

It is important that the other person acknowledges and agrees with your assessment of his/her behavior before you move to solutions/what you want to be different.  If you do not get agreement, you need to revisit this conversation again in subsequent meetings until you do.

Discuss how you want to be recognized for your work in future – this could include, you making presentations to senior people, sending out documents in your name on behalf of both yourself and your line manager, your manager publicly acknowledging your contributions etc.

Learning suggestions:

  • Practise being more assertive so that you are able to ask for what you want in a specific, clear, unemotional, and respectful way.  You may feel daunted by the possibility of expressing your needs and feelings to your boss, so start small in non-threatening situations, such as in a restaurant, and work up to more tense settings;
  • Prior to a confrontation rehearse what you want to say and try to anticipate the likely reactions of the other party – will he/she be surprised? Angry? Upset? etc.   Think about how you will deal with these different responses so that you are prepared when you have your face-to-face meeting;
  • Just before the meeting take some deep breaths to slow your breathing and calm down.  This will help you to present yourself in an assured and professional manner;
  • During the meeting express your feelings and state what you want.  Stay present i.e. really focus on the dialogue that you and your counterpart are having.  Notice how he/she behaves, what are the non-verbal clues to the underlying emotions he/she is feeling?  Try to listen on three levels; content, feeling and meaning to truly understand the other person’s point of view;
  • Reflect on your own behaviour: what are the characteristics of the situations in which you have allowed your line manager to take credit for your work?  What has stopped you from speaking out before?  What are the opportunities for you to behave differently in the future?  What will you do and how will you do this?
  • Consider indirect ways of promoting your work, for example:
    • talk informally about it with your colleagues;
    • hold lunch bag sessions where you present your work and ideas;
    • find ways to present at different meetings.
    • and share some of the outputs, if possible.

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s