About 15 years ago, I was involved in a management situation that I still think about from time to time, because it made me so uncomfortable at the time. Here is what happened:
As a call center manager in a large software company, I was tasked with finding a solution to a problem that was impacting customer satisfaction and increasing our support costs. At the end of the project, I was to present my findings and recommendations to the company’s Operating Committee for their approval.
The project was a blast, and I pulled in several managers that reported to me to help with data gathering and analysis. I also pulled in people from the product team to determine the feasibility of my product-related recommendations, and some financial analysts to help crunch the numbers to create a cost/benefit model.
At the end of the project, I was really proud of our results, and the Operating Committee funded us to act on my recommendations.
OK, sounds like a happy ending so what’s the problem? In a word, the issue was “credit.”
One neck to wring?
You see, when I prepared my findings document and presentation, my first draft had a list of all the people who contributed to the research. When I reviewed it with my VP, he told me to take those names off the report.
“You own this – you’re the one throat to choke,” he said. “I know they contributed to this, but you drove it and you are accountable so your name is the one that should be on there.”
I did what I was told, but it still bothers me to this day that they didn’t get their props in front of the Operating Committed. If I had it to do over again, I’d probably add a section in the report listing the contributors and/or outlining the process I followed so I could mention them by name. At least the VP knew who contributed, and most of them were in his division…
Remember the supporting cast
From this experience, I learned that I am uncomfortable taking credit for other people’s work. Maybe it’s my desire for “fairness,” or perhaps it’s rooted in my own ego – I don’t like it when people take credit for my ideas, and I don’t want them to feel like I’m taking credit for theirs.
The “star” gets the limelight (and the big paycheck) in movies, but the people behind the scenes are still listed and recognized. I think that’s a good model for any team.
What do you think? Are you a manager who’s cracked the code on this? Share your secrets, please.