How to Get Coworkers to Do Your Work
...and take credit for it
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This is a simple, yet powerful tip on reducing your workload while retaining your bonus, promotions, and raises: getting others to do your work
Let me illustrate with an example
There have been moments where I’ve been completely dumbfounded at work, but I still made myself look competent
How do you do this without being obvious?
The trick is to get different coworkers to do different parts of your task, then explain the entire thing in-depth during meetings as though you did it on your own
Ask Coworker A about Part 1
Ask Coworker B about Part 2
… and so on
Why do we split our questions?
Suppose you’re in a meeting and you explain your thoughts behind the progress you’ve made on your task.
Your coworkers are listening in, and know that others were involved. If a single person were involved and you didn’t give them credit for helping you, he/she may be upset. However, it’s far less suspicious when there are multiple team members whom you requested help from AND when each part is insignificant compared to the overall task.
Your “lack of recognition” becomes less targeted i.e. a coworker can’t say, “Wow, this person decided not to credit me for helping them with their task” because that coworker fulfilled such a minor role, and speaking up could make them seem petty.
It’s more likely that the coworker rationalizes it with “He/She asked multiple people for clues to complete their task. I can’t possibly ask to take credit for their progress.” Sly Fox Tip: Give people a safe way to rationalize their bullshit in order to prevent them from getting upset. Protect their ego to protect yourself.
AND, if you say something along the lines of, “everyone was so helpful!” you can give off a positive vibe, while ensuring that nobody specific gets credit.
Why is this important?
Because your boss is quietly comparing your performance to everyone else. Even if you want to compliment your coworkers out of genuine gratitude, your boss will take those compliments as a way to implicitly rank you below them. Almost like being self-deprecating. How?
Consider the phrase: “Damn, I’m clumsy.”
Does that phrase have a different meaning if a junior engineer says it compared to a senior engineer? YES
If a new engineer were to say something like this, any boss would get concerned.
If a tenured engineer were to say something like this, it may get a few laughs.
Being self-deprecating builds trust, but it also lowers your relative status if you are not already high-status. High-status individuals (like celebrities) can use self-deprecation to build trust without impacting their status because their work speaks for itself.
However, as with everything, this comes with risk: how do you prevent your coworkers from becoming upset?
Be EXTREMELY complimentary while they’re helping you 1-on-1
“Whoa! How did you do that? That was genius!"
“Wow, how many years have you been here? Will I be as smart as you after that many years? Haha”
“Incredible, I never thought of that!”
Feed the ego. Let them bask in the idea that they are better than you.
But, keep your mouth shut when your manager/boss/team lead is nearby.
If you want to take this a step further, compliment them in a more general context.
Team building over Zoom? Happy hour? Lunch?
“Coworker B always has my back, what a great guy!" If you’re new, you can even say something like, “Coworker B has been answering my silly questions without judgment, always makes me feel comfortable!” Because this isn’t related to any specific task, you’re safe.
But in the context of a specific task? You did it all on your own and everyone else provided minimal input.
REVERSAL: If someone does this to you, there are two options.
Tell them that you’re busy because your boss requested progress to be made on your task. Tell them that you can help them the following day. “Sorry man, team lead wants me to make progress on this task by this afternoon. Want to link up tomorrow?” They’ll usually have found someone else to bother by then.
Hop on a call and be vaguely brief OR confusingly verbose. Once they realize that you’re clueless, they won’t pursue you any more. “Ummm have you tried [unrelated class]? Or maybe [unrelated method] could be useful but I’m not sure. Wow, this is pretty complex. Good on you for persevering through it!”
Daily Reminder: This is not an excuse to be inefficient, it’s an excuse to be hyper-efficient. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s probably a good idea to learn about it. But, if it’s a meaningless task, you can have someone else do most of the work for you using this framework.