Diary of a Frustrated Young Professional -Working Hard for the Credit

Dear all knowing Internet,

It has happened to all of us. We do the work and somebody takes the credit. In one such instance, I worked with my supervisor at the time on a response to a national technology survey on behalf of my state. When we get the results we and it turns out my state received its highest marks ever.

Fast forward a few weeks and my supervisor is on stage in front of my whole agency receiving an award from the CIO for all the hard work that went into the response. I sat there waiting for at least an acknowledgment. Well it never came.

Reflecting on this experience made me realize one that credit is one of the only things we have in government to reward workers. In an age of hiring freezes (and in some instances promotion freezes) and the constant threats of layoffs, getting credit for an accomplishment is a satisfying way to be rewarded for a job well done. Credit is something that you don’t really appreciate it until it’s taken away from you.

How do you reward your workers? Please share your experiences. I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Yours Truly,

Young and Frustrated

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

This is a tough dilemma. In this time of constrained resources, awards will be minimal and I agree that some form of recognition/acknowledgement will become more critical. However, I personally am not reliant on getting credit for accomplishments. Truthfully, no one works in a vacuum and I’m sure your supervisor’s support was critical to the success of your initiative. We need to stop worrying about recieving credit from others. Instead, we need to be content with knowing that we made a difference in the lives of those we serve.

Sandy Ressler

One of the first lessons I learned after I started working (in the private sector) dealt with a credit issue. I was working for a boss who was likable enough but took credit for work I felt I was doing (some programming task if I recall). I realized after that one solution was to start writing documents. Writing papers or technical documentation or something with an author’s name (i.e. your name) gives you credit that can’t be taken away. It’s not perfect and does assume you work in an environment where writing papers or something like that matters, but it does help.

Susan Thomas

@Andrew, You will encounter various types of credit takers throughout your professional life. I certainly have. Credit takers are insecure people who often really believe that they did all the heavy lifting. There is not much one can do to disabuse them of this.

I have worked on many projects, assignments etc. that were successful. Afterward, my superiors took the credit. You will not always get the credit you think you deserve or actually deserve. The key is how you handle it. My strategy is to embrace the situation. If the supervisor/credit taker thinks of you two as a team, the next time the individual might be inclined to share the spotlight.

Jay Johnson

“It’s okay. Let your ego push you to be the initiator. But tell your ego that the best way to get something shipped is to let other people take the credit. The real win for you (and your ego) is seeing something get shipped, not in getting the credit when it does.”
— Seth Godin (Poke the Box)

Andrew Soper

Thanks for the advice. In my non-profit days anytime we had an organization wide meeting (it only consisted on 15 people), we would have an award ceremony where we would come up with awards for people. There was no tangible item other than a ribbon, I know it sounds cheesy, but it always reminded us that everyone was appreciated for thier contribution. I think it may be time to bring it to government. 🙂


Check out the book Drive. Shows most rewards that work aren’t about money but are about recognition and opportunity and impact. It’s pretty simple – I think of Coach Taylor in Friday Night LIghts – he rewards his players with very simple things. Let them out early. A pat in the back. Thanking in public

Carol Davison

1. Perhaps your boss was surprised and had no time to think to include you in his speech or could not do so because he was required to X, Y and Z.

2. However, from that day forward your conscience will hold you accountable for rewarding those who deserve it.

Nathan Greenhut

Rewards are great motivators. Recognition can sometimes be a greater motivator than a financial reward. I have heard that people are more motivated by recognition than a financial reward over both the short and long term. If you have any examples, metrics or analytics for this, please post them to this group on analytics (link below)

Analytics to Outcomes