Acknowledging the Work of Others

Writing for HBR Online, last year Amy Gallo wrote an article entitled How to Respond When Someone Takes Credit for Your Work:

There’s nothing more infuriating than someone taking credit for your work. We’ve all had this happen at one point or another: you share an idea with a colleague and then hear him repeat it in a meeting; you stay late to finish a presentation yet your team member accepts all the praise; you lead a long overdue project to completion and your boss tells the higher-ups it was his doing. How should you handle these situations? Is it okay to speak up right then and there? Or should you keep quiet? And how can you make sure that you get the credit you deserve in the future?

I was in a meeting today where the lead presenter did the total opposite of this, and provided an almost perfect case study of how to appropriately acknowledge the work of others. It was his presentation, he was reporting on something he was responsible for, and most of the people he acknowledged weren’t even at the meeting. Here’s what I noticed:

1. His second slide listed the people who had been involved in the project, including their contact details. Most were consultants. He acknowledged what they’d done right at the beginning of his talk – visually and verbally – not in small print on the final slide.

2. At various points of his presentation he called out the specific contributions of specific people, and how he’d handed the workstream over to them to complete. For example, on mentioning the use of design workshops to shape the information architecture for the new intranet, an external consultant had been asked to run the sessions. Actually that consultant was in the room, and was noted by name.

3. He wrote the presentation without input from the external consultants. It wasn’t a joint presentation where the others had to ask to be named – he did it because he believed it was the right thing to do.

4. For one of the consultants involved, the presenter called the night before the meeting to check if they were coming. He didn’t say that he was going to mention their contribution; he just wanted to ensure they were in the room. The consultant came without prior knowledge of what was going to be said.

Wow, just wow.

It could have so easily been portrayed differently, and no one outside of the project would ever have known.

Integrity. Honesty. Collaborative ethos. Sharing the credit. Acknowledging the contributions of others. Humility. Beautiful to see.

3 thoughts on “Acknowledging the Work of Others

  1. Michael,
    Good on you for highlighting this practice.
    I noticed the same HBR article you mention and have thought of it often, watching various presentations since.
    I too was in the room this morning as well, and like you was thrilled with the way credit was shared.

    My challenge to you, who’ve read this far, is to give credit as part of your daily practice at work and at home🙂

  2. Michael,
    This is delightful. What a great way to acknowledge the contribution of others. I think this says a lot about culture too.

  3. People who openly share credit where it is due are a delight to work with. Too bad this is sometimes not the case. Thanks for highlighting the GOOD side of this practice!

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