I am working as a scientific project manager in a small startup Pharma company. Unfortunately, I have realized that  I am not getting any kind of feedback from my team lead. The most frustrating part is that, even though the team-lead consistently uses my ideas and works, but never give me the credits. 

As a result of these, I am feeling quite demotivated. I also fear that if I want to leave the company, then I would not get a proper reference. This might also hamper my future possibilities.

I would really appreciate it if there are any suggestions about how to deal with it.

  • 1
    The obvious: why not talk to your team lead? – Tymoteusz Paul Jul 20 '20 at 9:45
  • @Tymoteusz Paul I have done so. Despite this, he is reluctant. In fact, after this, he ignores my emails even more. – chiara Jul 20 '20 at 10:44
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    @chiara - Have you talked to him in person and/or on the phone? It's easier to ignore an email (or delay replying to an email). It is more difficult to ignore a phone call and/or ignore the person in your office. – Donald Jul 20 '20 at 17:27
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    Do they give credits to other employees? Do they actively try to pass off your suggestions as their own or frame them as a team effort? I'm asking because the approach might be different depending on whether they're out to steal your ideas or are simply bad at giving recognition. – Llewellyn Jul 20 '20 at 17:58
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    Is team lead your manager? – Michael McFarlane Jul 20 '20 at 18:01

This can be a very demotivating and complex situation, as a former manager who was a new manager once and knowing that most workplaces do not have formal New Manager Training and often Start-ups have not invested the up front time in setting up a proper HR system or outlined expectations as a manager I would suggest the following to be sure you create visibility for your work and to set expectations with your Manager:

  1. Set reoccuring 1-1 sessions with your Manager (if you feel the need, cc that persons manager as optional) -- Be sure to set the expectations of the 1-1s and send an agenda for the session -- Create a 1-1 Doc, o 15-5 to track notes and feedback; if your company uses Confluence they have great templates
  2. Track your work -- if your company uses Jira, Trello, Basecamp etc. begin outlining and tracking your work. Provide highlevel information (Problem, Scope, Goal, Collaborators). -- The main point is visibility not only for your manger but mostly for others in the company. If your company doesn't have a platform - signup for free and share your link with others! (now you have taken an initiate to improve communication company wide! ;)
  3. Chat with your higher ups to understand not only what they expect from you but what they expect from your manager and how they would like to see communication handled.

Good Luck!

  • Careful though with signing up with an external time tracking software. Many companies will not be happy when an outsider potentially gains insight into what you (and therefore the company) is working on. You might also easily violate some data protection laws depending on how detailed you track your work. So if you need to track your work and no system is available, rather use something that can be used offline. Or first clarify with your manager (in writing, email would be fine) that this is okay. – Frank Hopkins Jul 22 '20 at 3:17

Gaining visibility in the workplace is important, which is why you need to make sure people know your name and what you are doing. So a manager who hides your existence from the rest of the company can be really bad for your career. Piercing that veil might require that you do some things to make sure people notice your accomplishments:

  • Make sure your work has your name on it. Whenever you create a document, presentation or other work artifact, make sure it mentions you as the author.
  • Don't be afraid of sending emails to people directly, even those who are a level higher in the company hierarchy. Don't communicate with the rest of the company solely through your manager. When you are asked to do something, find out who you are doing it for and communicate with them directly (CC your manager so they don't feel out of the loop). Should someone ask you to stop, tell them you wanted to save time by making sure the information goes to the people it concerns as soon as possible.
  • Make sure you are sitting in meetings which concern your work. Tell those people who organize them that you will take part because you might have something important to contribute. Also don't be afraid of inviting people to a meeting yourself from time to time when there is something important to discuss.
  • Use such meetings to present your work results in person. When you don't yet know how to do good slideshows and how to present them well in person, learn it.
  • While this can be a reasonable approach in some cases, this can also backfire as it might go totally against the company hierarchy. In my company it would be weird if you tried to establish one-to-one connections when the spirit of the company is to always use placeholder channels, be it group mails, chatrooms or the like and otherwise use your manager for most communication, some detail clarifications aside. In my setting I fully support this, as it let's me focus on my work and the manager deals with all the chit chat. Same for presentations etc. the team is supposed to be a unit. – Frank Hopkins Jul 22 '20 at 3:22
  • So what I'm saying is, at least for points 2-4, one should make sure this isn't going against company culture. – Frank Hopkins Jul 22 '20 at 3:25

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