Pooh Claimer (n): Person who claims credit for someone else’s work. Derives from popular expression “if I took a pooh in the corner, he/she would say he/she had done it”

In my last job, I came across a number of pooh-claimers. These are people who claim your work for their own to such an extent, that were you to take a dump in the corner of the office, they would tell everyone that they had done it.

Pooh-claimers come in all shapes and sizes, and often find themselves in management sooner or later. Most of them are completely unable to do any kind of “work” themselves, so end up with a team who do it for them, but you will find some bottom-feeders who claim pooh from almost everywhere. It’s almost as if they have a professional pooper-scooper and they’re lurking behind hedges waiting for some pooh to claim.

One of the greatest pooh-claimers I ever happened upon was at my last company – that HR Outsourcing company of a medium size that we’re not going to disclose. Unbelievably, this pooh-claimer was a member of Mensa, which would indicate to the outsider that this person was of above-average intelligence. Alternatively, it could mean that this pooh-claimer was very good at solving multiple-choice puzzles. Your shout.

The aforementioned claimer of pooh started off in a sort of “consultancy” position, which as we all know is shorthand for “knowing fuck all”, but that shortly merged into a “knowledge management” position. Who the hell manages knowledge? However, this enabled the pooh-claimer to move into prime hedge-lurking territory. Given free reign to go around the business and “amass knowledge”, this person had the ultimate opportunity to claim other peoples’ work en masse.

Pooh Claimers operate principally in organisations with shit management – which is most of them. In this particular unnamed organisation, management was thin at the top and thin in the middle. Reporting directly to a Director who knows fuck all about the jobs taking place below him, this Pooh Claimer was quick to seize upon someone’s work and inform the Director that she had done it – so quick, in fact, that the person who had done the work was blinded by the dust left in her wake.

What do you do about a Pooh Claimer?

When you believe a Pooh Claimer is operating in your business, you have to be constantly on your guard. Ensure that your work is signed – for example, if you are presenting a Word document, lock your name into the document, or put it in the footer so that it’s on every page. Pooh Claimers don’t have a clue how to operate simple document changes, relying on bottom-feeders to make the changes for them – so lock yourself in.

Alternatively, you can use them to your advantage. What pooh-claimers are good at is finding the right people to do the work around the business. If you are in a large corporation with multiple locations, the pooh-claimer will fish around for the right kind of pooh to claim, saving you time.

The third option is to trap the pooh-claimer with something that is likely to blow up in their faces. This is dangerous, as a pooh-claimer is often a blame-shifter, but done in a subtle manner, can be highly effective. Look for a long-term strategy – one that appears, on the surface, entirely kosher, but with detailed analysis, reveals itself to be wrong.

What about you? Have you ever met a pooh-claimer? Got any ways of dealing with them?


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