FMS, Delhi University
There is little that can be done if a boss hogs credit for the work done by a subordinate, says Kavita Singh, who teaches organizational behaviour and change at the Faculty of Management Studies, or FMS, Delhi University.
However, talking about your contribution and contacting the boss’ boss can help. “You have to be assertive enough. (You have to say) I am important, I matter,” says Singh, who also teaches an optional programme in counselling skills for managers.
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Her students—especially those holding jobs and enrolled in the part-time master’s in business administration programme at FMS—regularly discuss problems of “politics and power play” in workplaces. “If it happens continuously, you have to take a stance,” she tells her students.
Photo: Kedar Bhat / Mint
Human resources director,
GroupM, South Asia.
In the advertising world, it is very easy to take credit for work that others have done, whether it is creative ideas or hard core numbers and marketing strategy, agrees Gaurav Hirey, human resources director of GroupM, South Asia.
“Be so good that you get noticed all the time,” he advises. “If there is a great concept in a presentation, the boss won’t be able to make the impact. Then he will be forced to call upon you to better present it... Consistent good work always gets noticed.”
Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
South Asia, AFP
Vijayalakshmi Iyer has today exorcized her demons.
Her position as office manager, South Asia, at news agency Agence France-Presse recognizes her managerial effectiveness—something her last job had failed to do. Out of the 14 years spent in a consumer goods company, which she declined to name, she worked for six years as secretary to regional sales and branch managers.
Managing vendors, distributors and sales depots called for new skill sets that she diligently acquired, making it easy for her bosses to rely on her. “For this, I was rewarded with one-off compliments such as ‘good job done’. These were never in public view and top management was oblivious of my contribution,” she says.
“Problems began when the boss realized that head office was calling me directly, realizing I was the one with information on my fingertips. He made things difficult by cancelling my leave and making me work late hours,” Iyer recalls.
Things changed when a new boss took over and her role expanded. It was when he left and the position was vacant for 10 months and they clocked the highest regional profits, that senior managers recognized her contribution. She won the “Employee of the Year Award” in 1993, and moved to finance in the junior management cadre where she spent “three wonderful years”.
It is difficult to identify exclusive contribution of interns and designers at a couture company, says Ritu Kumar, textile designer and director, Ritika Pvt. Ltd. “So the final product cannot be attributed to the effort of a single process or individual,” she says, adding that recognition has to be given to younger talent. “Designers have to stop being the only face of the company— both in visual and real terms.”
Examples of fashion houses where there is no conflict between designers and students? House of Dior, she says. “John Galliano is associated with Dior but has his own brand. So while he works within that ethos, he also stands out.” In India, though, this hasn’t happened because the industry is at a nascent stage, she says.
Compiled by Aparna Kalra, Poornima Mohandas and Taru Bahl
From boss’ boss to colleagues, keep everyone in the loop
Praseed Prasad found himself in a common workplace predicament.
“When things go well, the big bosses take credit. And if things go wrong, they are quick to blame you,” he remembers.
Confronting the boss didn’t work, and it got so bad that the 30-year-old quit his job. Now, he is an investment director with a media buying firm in Bangalore.
But is that the only answer? Experts say it doesn’t have to be. For tips on how to balance—delicately—your innovations with your boss’ ego, read on.
Choose your boss carefully: They should not need others to prop them up. Good bosses are capable and secure in their competencies. “I know professors and senior strategic analysts who leave the drudgery of research to their juniors and students, but unhesitatingly put their name as co-authors in the published research papers,” says Manpreet Sethi, senior fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies. So, just as doctoral candidates choose their thesis guides carefully, do research on your professor/employer first.
Establish a rapport with the higher-ups: It is good to involve the boss’ boss in critical projects so he or she is in the loop throughout. This makes it easy for team members to directly approach the supervisor in case their problems are not getting resolved. “Whether directly or through HR (human resources), this option should be made available to employees,” says Sudeshna Datta, executive vice-president and co-founder of AbsolutData Research and Analytics (P) Ltd in New Delhi.
Expand the loop: Keep colleagues apprised of what you are working on. If everyone is reasonably aware, then they know you are the likely creator of that project or idea, says P.B. Nageshwar, head of human resources at Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, a real estate consultancy firm.
Confront: Talk to your boss, and have a discussion rather than a confrontation. It might be an oversight, says Nageshwar. A confrontation may just put yourreporting manager in battle mode, and if you don’t have the support of his seniors, this could do you more harm than good.
Stand up for yourself: Learn to hold your ground. When nothing else works, it is time to stand up for yourself. “Remember, nothing can keep a good man down and the bad man up for very long. Cracks show up,” says Sethi.
If you are a manager, examine your company’s policies on recognition . For managers, Datta suggests: “Put every employee getting into a people management role through a recognition programme which trains him on company values.” Training employers, employees and supervisors on fair work practices is essential to ensure that such problems, when they crop up, are nipped in the bud.
Create a marketplace for ideas: “Have an ‘ingenuity welcome’ culture, where employees are encouraged to think out of the box and challenge the status quo,” says Mitul Rustagi, director of business development (automotive) at Johnson Controls India Pvt. Ltd, a New Delhi-based automotive and engineering product firm. A good performance appraisal system and a 360-degree feedback can aid the process.
Know your rights: If you are looking for legal redress, read the fine print of your service contract. “(Under) contract of service, it is at best only a moral wrong on the part of the employer who fails to acknowledge the employee’s efforts. There is no legal binding upon him despite the employee being the author of the work and the first owner of its copyright,” says Ajay Sahni, a lawyer who specializes in cases involving intellectual property rights. “In cases of ‘contract for service’, the first owner and author are always the same person whose rights are fully secured under law.”
Pick your battles: A part of your job is to do good work, and your boss is your boss. Your job, after all, is to execute. Hang on to the faith that good work will always be recognized and rewarded. Keep soldiering on. AFP’s Vijayalakshmi Iyer is of the opinion that “one must do what one must do”. Add to your skills, learn new things, pitch for new responsibilities, seek new roles and try not to be seen as just “one boss’ blue-eyed person”.
Know when to quit: Recognize the point where you can see that the situation is irretrievable and that your tolerance levels have crossed their threshold. Resigning then might be the best thing to do.
Compiled by Taru Bahl, Megha Chhabra, Lipi Mohapatra and Aruna Viswanatha