A co-worker and I are both responsible for a project in our office. Recently, I overheard him discussing the progress with our supervisor. The way he was stating the information, it sounded like he did the majority of the work which hasn’t been the case. We have both been working hard on this project, and I’m concerned that these sidebar conversations are creating a different picture. What should I have done?
Undermined in Utah
Dear Undermined in Utah,
Anytime you overhear a project that you’re directly involved in being discussed, and assuming it’s a casual conversation and not a closed-door meeting, I would take the approach that you belong and pop in. “Hi. Couldn’t help but hear that you were discussing the X Project. Thought I’d join in so we can all be on the same page.” Your presence will put the brakes on your co-worker’s spin of who is doing what.
At this point, I would have a conversation with my co-worker that sounds something like this: “Bob, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation you were having with Mr. Boss the other day. If I heard you correctly, you said (repeat what you heard). I’m concerned because this leaves Mr. X with the impression that I played a smaller role in this project than I did.” Chances are he’s going to say, “No, I didn’t mean that or that’s not what I said.” Just listen. When he’s finished, close the conversation by saying, “I would appreciate if you’re discussing the project at any length in the future to include me. It’s important that we both get the credit for our participation.” Hopefully, this will nip it in the bud.