Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Jul 15, 2005

Workplace Dangers: Idea stealers

Freshman Seminar with Miss Minchin - Session 2

It's happened to nearly everyone. You pitch an idea to your boss, or share a thought with your colleague and next thing you know that other person is taking credit for it as their own. What does one do in this situation? Well, there are several approaches:

Vigilante approach: Demand justice at high noon. Set out to expose the idea stealer’s traitorous ways, regardless of whether he or she is your boss. Set out on a smear campaign designed to make others see him for the slimy weak thoughtless leech that he is. Be sure to jump up and shout "that was my idea" and offer to "take it outside" when it happens.

Passive-aggressive approach: Secretly fume and imagine the idea stealer being crushed under a giant boulder while you pout in meetings. Give him the cold shoulder. Refuse to meet with him unless he agrees to have your conversations recorded. Then as these guys did, feed him an awful idea that he just can't resist taking credit for, and then sit back and enjoy his demise.

Zen approach: If it's your boss, accept the fact that your job is to make your boss look good. Your boss probably doesn't even realize the idea came from you, but will remember how valuable you are to her success, and will keep you close by; even taking you to the next company she works for. If it's your colleague, remind yourself that you are all part of the same team and be happy for him when he gets promoted over you. Remember that it's accomplishments, not ideas that you list on your resume. Get yourself on the projects you want to work on and contemplate letting go of your attachment to recognition while you practice yoga on your lunch hour.

Direct approach: If a colleague tells you that the boss just congratulated her for suggesting your grand idea, you can march into the boss's office and say "Bernice tells me you really liked my idea! I can't wait to start implementing it." Or as suggested in this excellent article on e-magnify.com, if the idea-stealer makes his move during a meeting, stand up and say 'Thank you, Bernie. I'm so happy to hear that you were listening when I proposed [idea]. I'm looking forward to working together on this project..."

Collaborative approach: As Nigel Nicholson put it, you can feel good about the clear value of your ideas to your boss and your colleagues. Be proactive by scheduling meetings to discuss specific project ideas and document everything. This makes it easier for the boss to remember that the idea came from you. Nicholson also suggests that you give feedback to your boss. Let her know how much you appreciate recognition for your ideas.

You'll see that some approaches work better than others, and a good combination of approaches will likely work best. In any case it is never a bad idea to document everything. At the very least, during your annual review you can remind your boss of the ideas you suggested and how successful the implementation of those ideas has been. Having a timeline to refer to makes this conversation much easier, and reminds you of the value that you know you bring to any job.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger