“It’s like Vidal Sassoon said: if you don’t look good, I don’t look good.”

Three business people toasting in officeA ways back when I was a wee little PR minion at my first agency I scored a TIME Magazine exclusive for a client early on in my tenure. My boss was pleased, the client was ecstatic and I thought I might just have the knack to make public relations a career.

One afternoon the CEO of the agency was making his way through the halls and stopped outside my boss’s office, which was a mere 30 feet from mine, and congratulated her on the great media success for our client recently featured in TIME. Naturally, my ears perked up, and I expected to hear my boss take the compliment and move on with the day. Instead my boss, the great Anne (whom I’m coming to reference far too often on this blog!) told the CEO – “hey the person you should congratulate is Kristen, she has gotten some big hits for them lately.” Up until this point I was sure the CEO did not know I existed. He turned around, told me keep up the good work and moved along.

When the CEO was gone I thanked Anne for the recognition and told her she didn’t need to give me the praise for the coverage, we were a team. She said “Kid, it’s like Vidal Sassoon said; if you don’t look good, I don’t look good.”

I wish I could say that I have had multiple experiences like that day with Anne, but the truth is I have found credit tends to be hoarded and in the end it not only hurts the individual employee, it hurts the overall team.

I feel like there were three solid lessons that came from Anne’s statement that day which have sustained me in the years since working in this business with both my managers and the employees I was in charge of managing.

  1. Managers like Anne are one in a million, most love taking credit, and I wanted to strive to be like her to have that effect on someone else in the future
  2. I like getting credit for work I am truly proud of – no matter how much I blushed that day when the CEO congratulated me
  3. Team members need encouragement to know they are doing a good job and giving them props for good work can change their outlook/view on a job

As I saw other managers take credit for stellar work either I or my colleagues completed I got fired up. I didn’t understand how it is illegal to plagiarize content yet a “boss” can take your intellectual property or success and blatantly claim it as their own? Where was the happy medium?!

I found that answer when I was bestowed the honor of becoming a manager I made it a point to give props to those who earned them. I have noticed that when you give credit to the person who has done phenomenal work for your team as a whole that person will want to work even harder to please you and the “big guys” in your business. It is also my great hope to leave the same mark on them as Anne left on me, so when they make the step to manager they will remember the Vidal Sassoon motto and remember there is no “I” in TEAM.

So what has your experience been and how have you handled it? Managers – do you see a difference in your employees when you acknowledge their hard work or do you feel it is part of the growing pains of the business for the “cogs” (no pun intended Cog) to earn their credit – and place – as they grow in their careers?  Team members – how do you feel when someone takes credit for the work you do and how do you handle it?

kreeKristen Massaro, a born and raised NYC-ite, has worked in the agency world for a little over six years, focusing on public relations, communications and branding. With a love for volunteering all over the globe, Kristen has a passion for non-profit PR and is currently in the process of starting her own non-profit, the Fearless Heart Fund, which was inspired by her 2 year old goddaughter who received a heart transplant in 2008. Now that the winter months upon us, Kristen spends her disappearing spare time vegetating in front of the TV watching basic cable Christmas movies and online holiday shopping.

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