Dealing with a credit-grabbing boss

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Rey Elbo

In The Workplace

My boss gives me impossible work assignments and when I achieve them, he simply thanks me as if my achievements were very easy to do. But what’s worse is that he continues to be an incurable credit-grabber by representing my work as his own when he’s with top management. How do I handle the situation? — Pissed Off.

A crow was sitting on a tree, doing nothing all day. A small rabbit saw the crow, and asked him, “Can I also sit like you and do nothing all day long?” The crow answered: “Sure! Why not?” So, the rabbit sat on the ground below the crow, rested, until he fell asleep. All of a sudden, a fox appeared, jumped on the rabbit and ate it. Management Lesson: To be sitting and doing nothing, you must be sitting very, very high up and make sure you don’t fall from where you are.

My point, therefore is this — grin and bear it until you’ve reached the same status as your boss. There’s not much you can do as long as you continue working for him and the organization. Probably, the only consolation you can have is the fact that he knows where all the impressive accomplishments are coming from. And he knows where to get it. Whatever happens, don’t judge him too quickly as we don’t know the real situation.

For one, maybe he’s in trouble with the big boss and he needs all the credit that he can get from everyone. If this is true, then you may want to support him on that. Be positive. Hope and pray that he can overcome the situation. But don’t ever think of sabotaging his efforts as there’s always a chance that you will be discovered. If this happens, it could be much worse than you can imagine as your boss can use that as an excuse to terminate your employment.

There’s no other way but to remain confident, helpful and optimistic that everything will turn out for the better for you and your current boss. Even if he resigns and a new boss comes in, your constructive attitude in work life may help you recover from a credit-less situation. Now, here are some techniques to help you maintain a positive outlook with a credit-grabbing boss:

One, seek constant two-way communication with the boss. Try to understand his situation so that it would be easy for you to help him. It’s difficult but it’s worth the effort than remain perpetually bitter, close-minded and emotional all the time. The best way is to have a regular eyeball-to-eyeball meeting with the boss and document everything in an e-mail for record purposes, every step of the way.

Two, follow up on all projects that you’ve submitted to him. Take the opportunity to see if he needs clarification or more information. Chances are, no matter how slim they are, that he may realize his shortcomings. After all, the usual acknowledgment in an unguarded moment is always in the form of a “thank you,” regardless of whether it’s sincere or not.

Third, stand your ground if the boss puts the blame on you. If your boss’s style is to bully people around him, then be brave enough to confront him without necessarily putting up a fight or arguing with him. Remain cool as always, but make it known to him that you can’t be easily intimidated. Remember this — bullies tend to concentrate their efforts on those who can be easily manipulated with anger.

Fourth, take your time well and think of more tasks to please the boss. If you decide to stay with that company, then your only recourse is to be on the safe side. Whatever happens, don’t criticize your boss to everyone as there’s no assurance that it will not come back to haunt you. There are very few people who can win a fight with a boss, even if he has fallen from the graces of top management.

Last, know the best opportunity to interact with the boss. And do it often as possible. Even miserable people have their lucid intervals and occasional good moments. Be an expert on this. Look for days and the right time when things have been going on well for your boss to approach him on something that is not controversial. If you know the best time, bring out certain topics of mutual interest to you.

You can’t change instantly the personality of an ingrate and incompetent boss. And it’s only a matter of time before your boss resigns or is replaced for whatever reason. If this happens, you’ll be glad that you cooperated well with the boss in the most difficult times.

Just the same, the ability to keep your boss and other top-level executives satisfied with your performance depends much on how well you do your job. There’s no other way, but this means exceeding the expectations of management on a regular basis. Therefore, grumbling against an ingrate and incompetent boss won’t help you fatten your pay check or secure a promotion. Still, there’s no other way but to consistently score good points with your boss even if he doesn’t deserve it.

ELBONOMICS: Doing an impossible task means that it will soon be part of your job description.


Check out one of our popular programs called “Cracking Leadership Challenge in the Workplace” that is best suited as an exclusive learning event for supervisors and managers in your organization. Contact Ricky Mendoza at (02) 846-8951 or mobile 0915-406-3039 or send e-mail to or