I remember it like it was yesterday; the outdoor kindergarten party where a piñata was brought in. If you don’t know or remember the game/activity, it’s where you are blindfolded, given a wooden stick, spun around until you’re dizzy as hell and ready to bring up your lunch, then expected to strike and break an object (often a decorated figure, shaped like an animal or a symbol such as a star) filled with candy.
I watched for what seemed like an eternity as each child swung and missed, swung and missed, swung and missed, all to no avail. It was like watching an Atlanta Braves game (yeah, I said it). Nobody could break that sucker open. Then it was my turn.
Dizzy as I was, I was hoping to complete a swing without falling flat on my face for lack of equilibrium. I started to swing, paused, then swung as hard as I could and the first try, THWACK! I broke the bottom side of that sugar shack wide open and heard screams and cheers from all around, followed by the increasing rumble of running feet and diving bodies. I stood there smiling as I slowly removed the blindfold to take in the victorious scene.
Despite my triumphant moment, what I got was not at all what I’d planned. For the life of me, I don’t know why I expected to find a sea of sweets waiting for me to collect and go about my day. No, what I saw was a blanket of bodies and clothing of different styles and colors, covering what should have been my reward. Or so I thought…
These mutha-(expletive) were stealing my candy!!!
Not being very aggressive at that age, I made no attempt to push and dig my way through the zombie herd. I just looked for open spots to grab a piece here and there. In the end, I had to settle for the few (and I do mean FEW – like two or three) pieces bouncing between kneecaps or being kicked around by tiny feet.
I didn’t cry, but I was miserable for the remainder of the party and throughout that evening. My work was being enjoyed by everyone but me, celebrated by people who had contributed nothing. I had to watch others enjoy the fruits (aka “snacks”) of my labor.
If you’re a hard-working person in the working world, particularly someone responsible for innovation, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.
There is nothing worse than putting in your greatest effort only to receive zero recognition or see someone else take credit and/or reap the rewards.
I still remember the day I told a co-worker what I thought would improve a work process and she turned around and submitted the idea to the company AND received a $100 gift certificate for her idea. All I could do was give her that “you know what you did, heifer (or “heffa”, as we say in the hood)” look as everyone congratulated her for her creativity.
Telling management that it was my idea was pointless and would have gotten me labeled as petty, jealous and dishonest, especially since I had no proof. Silently and bitterly, I took the “L”.
Now I’m confident that you’ve already determined your course of action to prevent this, or anything similar, from happening to you. Again. But, if you haven’t thought about it or prepared yourself, here are some suggestions you might consider as preventive action:
- Think things through. Weigh the pros and cons of each and every idea.
- Keep your ideas to yourself until such time as you are ready to formally present them. Share the credit if someone assists you in its inception or along the way.
- Keep track of your work, including drafts. One day you could be called in to the office about your productivity and you’re going to need to show your progress or “prove your worth”.
- Don’t be afraid to voice your disapproval/disagreement, providing supporting information, during planning stages. It’s equally beneficial to have been the person who was right (or “not wrong”) if plans go awry. Remember, the Groupthink concept (going along with the group) is what led to the Space Shuttle tragedy and the successful attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Take notes from instructions/conversations. Document everything. Write down who said what about what, when and where they said it… …and who was present (witnesses). I had a boss who was not at all interested in supporting the safety process and I made it a point to document everything he said. Having that foresight actually saved my job when something eventually and inevitably went horribly wrong.
- Save your emails. Yes. Save them. Print (be careful forwarding) emails and take them home. You can also “BCC” (Blind Carbon Copy) yourself at your personal email to keep record of conversations.
- If possible, save everything you create to a flash drive and take it home for safe keeping. Samples of your work go a long way in an interview and they also serve as a good template to save you from “recreating the wheel” at the next job. Yeah, I know – anything you create at the company is “company property” and must be surrendered at the time of separation. Man, to hell with that! If you’re not taking company trade secrets, keep samples of your work!
If you do these things, you won’t have to worry about CYA (“Covering your ass”) and like my earlier employment-related example, appearing to be a “glory seeker” or hater. You can maintain your modesty while enjoying the praise from on high. Remember, these are the kinds of things that lead to promotions and bonuses but more important, company trust, job security and longevity.
So don’t be afraid to speak up, but know when. Choose your battles wisely. Stand behind your ideas and decisions and don’t look back. If you’re sure, speak with confidence and never doubt yourself. Do your research and anticipate any questions or challenges.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t miss your opportunity.
Bust that piñata open. And git’cho candy…
Did you like what you read? Do you have a point to add or contest? Leave a comment in the section below. As I always say, “I am not the authority” – but I don’t mind sharing my opinion and/or what’s worked in the past.
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Thanks for reading!