– Harry Truman
A long, long time ago, I worked for an EAP doing public outreach, presentations, and programming. It is really the job that helped my launch my HR career but I had forgotten about it until recently, when culling through some old papers. What a trip down memory lane.
I worked in an office of several psychologists and social workers. The person I worked for took credit for all my work – and I do mean everything. He took credit for my programs, my ability to connect with our clients – both individual and business, and he took credit for my presentations like he did the work himself. He took credit for virtually every success I had.
Problem was he didn’t do anything for me. Zero. It was appalling really. He bragged to his colleagues about how I had blossomed under his tutelage and coaching, presented my ideas for programming and outreach as his own, and would call the clients after I did presentations to solicit feedback. Anything unflattering would be shared in his meetings, demonstrating how much time he needed to work with me.
I didn’t know any of this going on until a colleague befriended me. What I learned was he hated the counseling part of his job – you know, meeting with paying clients – and used any excuse, me included, to get out of his work.
I realized that I didn’t have much leverage; I was young, not sitting around the decision-making table, and frankly, who really cared that I worked for a jerk?
Despite my youth and virtual ignorance, I made a decision. As much as it confused, disappointed, and demeaned me, I kept going. We were doing so much good for so many people that I decided the good outweighed the bad. By a lot.
Eventually I left the job and took the lesson with me. I never, ever take credit for other people’s work. I go to extremes to make sure people know who is doing the great work coming out of our office. Or any other place I am – online, at home, on my job.
Sometimes, people presented in life do nothing but demonstrate how not lead. Or manage. Or be colleagues. Or just be friends. I learned it early. For that, I am grateful.
Photo by Deirdre Honner