You have just put in an 80 hour week. The report is done. You are about to send it out to your boss, but before you can send the email or before you can place it on her desk, your colleague just beat you to it. What started out as a team effort has become something your co-worker lead and managed to success. Someone just took credit for your efforts but whatever you say now in protest will only look and sound like you can’t share credit for the effort.
Another similar scenario: Have you participated in a meeting where you raise an idea that seems to fall on deaf ears only to hear it repeated again 15 minutes later to rave reviews? The same statement by another person is now seen as inspired, innovative or intriguing. And yet, it was your idea just moments ago. The expression on your face says it all: Didn’t I just say that?
These are just a couple of examples many of the women I’ve coached have shared about feeling diminished or devalued in the workplace and frankly these are examples of moments when you actually find out that someone else is making their career shine based on your talent and hard work. Sadly, it is far more likely that you will never know just how much someone has taken advantage of your efforts.
Harry S. Truman is credited with saying “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” True. The best kind of workplace is when everyone shares in the successes and challenges like real teams do. But if you have found your hard work makes someone else look better than you do, speak up. Your career success depends on it.
First, take time to confirm your efforts and progress with your boss directly. Make the effort to communicate face to face on your progress. Our Latino culture emphasizes group efforts, humility and limiting the focus on you. This can work against us in competitive workplaces and so you may find it necessary to do something out of your comfort zone: Say “I” worked on this. Describe your achievements to your boss not so much by emphasizing your talent or skill but rather the results you have focused on delivering.
Next, establish clear project plans that have direct assignments attributed to each member of your work team. Your name needs to be assigned to vital tasks and it is your responsibility to deliver on those effectively and report out on your progress. When everyone can be held accountable to moving the efforts forward, then you can speak to your contributions with your team and your boss.
Last, when you find someone continues to take credit for your work or diminishes your contributions make a strategic effort to place your signature branding on your work so that there can be no doubt but that it must be attributed to you. This may be done by our key relationships. One of the strongest characteristics Latinas bring to the workplace is our ability to connect with others and to demonstrate a real commitment and passion for their work. It is helpful for you to be in front of key decision makers so that you can formally and informally share your ideas about the work you do. If those around you begin to experience your enthusiasm and commitment to the project, then its success will be linked to your efforts.