By Jamé Jackson We’ve all dealt with an office hyena, or a person who slyly takes credit for the work or ideas of others. (They’re lurking around, waiting to feed off of the people around them, get it?) It’s a super frustrating experience, but don’t fret, whippersnappers. These tips will help you handle the situation.
Take the high road.
Easier said then done, but this industry is small and you don’t want to make enemies. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with the hyena, but stay gracious whenever possible. It also goes without saying that in the future, you should try to bounce your ideas only off of colleagues you know you can trust. And if you’re working as a group and you notice the hyena isn’t pulling their weight, take comfort in the fact that your manager or editor will likely notice your effort. “I never say anything but I always notice who’s working and who isn’t,” says a style and beauty director for a large media brand who’d rather not use her name here. “At some point, you begin to know each individual player’s work style, so you can usually tell which portions of a project come from who. When it’s time for promotions or performance reviews, I’ve kept a mental log of your work.”
Keep track of all your work.
Important emails, Slack messages, and even draft edits should all be kept in a folder on your desktop to ensure that you always have proof of your work, just in case. This could prevent a hyena for taking credit for your work and it might also come in handy when it’s time for your performance review, says the beauty director. And if you worry that that’s not enough, you can always CC your editor on important emails. That way, they’ll have the receipts right in their inbox.
If things get real, it’s time for a discussion.
This step is the hardest but sometimes the only effective way to change. The important thing to note is you should actually attempt to politely (but assertively) speak to this person first, lest your manager question why you never tried to work it out with them. In the best case scenario, the hyena will change their behavior once they realize that you’ve noticed what they’re doing to you and your colleagues. Worst case scenario, you’ll have attempted to remedy the situation and can then get backup from your manager or HR department. Anything’s better than letting things continue in such a negative way, right?
Jamé Jackson is a freelance fashion and beauty columnist and writer based in NYC. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheBlondeMisfit.com, a site geared for women of color in the fashion and beauty industry. To keep up with her love for color, blonde obsessions, and random beauty antidotes, check her out online at Theblondemisfit.com and follow her on Instagram at TheBlondemisfit.