Posted in web business

The importance of giving credit

I was talking to a colleague the other day about a work situation that is less than admirable.  Tension, uncertainty, and now, backstabbing.  Not the kind of place where any sort of real work would be expected to get done.  But what do you do when your team, or even worse, your company, has gotten to that point?

The obvious first thing to say is don’t let it get to that point form the first place.  When I’ve taught classes, both formally and informally, on project management, I am always sure to not glaze over the section on people skills and team dynamics.  This is sometimes the hardest area for a great leader to grasp – that s/he wouldn’t get there without the people that helped them along the way.  Project managers who are big task masters sometimes forget simple niceties like “please,” “thanks,” and “hello.”  But by in large, one of the most damaging actions a leader can do to their team, is not give them credit where it is due.

Most of the time, this simply an acknowledgment of a good job or task completed.  “Thanks for finishing that project” or “I really appreciate your weekly reports.”  Neither is required, but over time they make the difference between a happy employee who feels appreciated and one who doesn’t.  Practice makes perfect, here.  A person can tell when you are being canned or insincere in your delivery – so don’t say it unless you mean it.

The worst, though, is when a leader doesn’t acknowledge that their employee came up with an idea, or worse, steals it from them completely.  It sounds like an obvious no-no, but it happens all the time.

I developed an entertainment property concept once.  It was a preschool property, then called Superinas, about a troupe of super-hero ballerinas.  I even sewed tutus for the company pitch so myself and another gal that I brought in to help me flesh out the idea could twirl around and show how fun a series it would be.  I had no intention of writing, drawing, directing or producing the series, so giving the idea to the company was a no-brainer.  All I wanted was a simple nod from time to time, acknowledging that I come up with it initially.  And thankfully, everyone did that and all was good, all the way up until the last day I was at the company.

Acknowledgment goes so far.  Don’t overlook it.  If you do, you may just find you have less employees to be acknowledging overall – which is not a good thing.

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Joi Podgorny has spent the better part of the past 2 decades working on the bleeding edge of the technology and entertainment industries, from content/brand development and production to leading international support, moderation, community and social teams. Most recently, Joi founded Good People Collective, a consulting agency focused on helping companies and organizations establish, assess and pivot their internal and external cultures to help maximize their potential. She and her team are currently working on an exciting new software project, combining corporate training and virtual reality.

5 thoughts on “The importance of giving credit

  1. I have no details to work with, but one would wonder – were you an employee of the company? Did you work on their time? If so, I think they officially would own the concept, so the idea that they are stealing may be a bit unfair. Creative people need to be aware that if they are working on company time and getting paid, then their ideas belong to the company. If you want to retain any kind of rights, do it on your own time and shop it around yourself.

    Perhaps instead of giving the idea away, you should have negotiated something – even if it was just a credit you were looking for. Assuming that a profit driven business will go out of their way to credit you is a bit naive.

    People overestimate the value of an initial idea – much time, effort and money ends up being invested to develop a property, beyond the initial concept. Everyone has a great idea, but it takes money to take it to the next level.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh – but I work in a similar capacity, and I am fully aware that I am trading “ownership” for “opportunity”. I read the contract and know what kind of deal I signed, so I don’t expect anything over and above.

    Now get out there and come up with the next great idea! Or make a better preschool dance show…

  2. Thanks so much for your comment!

    I completely agree on every point and apologize if it came across as me thinking that the person coming up with the idea had any sort of rights to that idea after giving it to the company.

    What I see happening, often time, is the lack of respect a company has for the individuals who have helped the ideas grow along the way. Those individuals who MAKE the company work need to be respected and treated a proportionate value to the effort they give forth.

    I wrote this post after hearing ANOTHER story about a company treating it’s creatives badly and wanted to say “Stop it – you can’t do it without them”

    Your points are just as valid on the other side of the spectrum and I appreciate you writing them.

  3. I reread your first comment, and I was probably a bit overzealous in my own comments – I had read into it a stronger implication of theft than what you actually wrote.

    You are absolutely right – the creative minds behind the work are often undervalued and treated as disposable, as there is always someone else who will step in and fill their shoes in exchange for a turn at bat. I’m currently trying to limit my “work time” so as to focus on my own projects. It’s hard to do, but worth it, otherwise you’re always just chasing the paycheque and letting others cash in on your ideas.

    I came across your blog quite by accident – and this is the first post I read. You’re a class act, Joi!

    Just Some Guy

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