No one feels happy when someone else fails to acknowledge their contribution. Sadly, this is the growing complaint among many employees. They do all the hard work, and their boss takes all the credit. Businesses with supervisors who are into this sort of practice will, over time, witness low turnover or decreased morale.
The practice sometimes takes a disturbing turn. You pitch the idea to your boss and they decline, but weeks later you watch them present the same idea they declined to the executive suite. They applaud the idea, but your name is never mentioned.
In most instances, the fear of losing your job intimidates you into silence. This is a frustrating situation to be in, but there is a way out. There are ways you can stage a comeback if your boss takes all the credit for your hard work, without putting everything you love on the line.
1. Is it really as grave as it seems?
This is no doubt this behavior can upset you. However, it is important to critically evaluate the situation to see if it is really an issue. You should keep your emotions in check and shelve your ego, which can drive you into taking the wrong step.
Try looking at the situation from a different perspective. Bosses who steal ideas are often on a desperate quest to remain relevant. In some companies, being placed under a supervisor means they are responsible for your useful ideas.
Again, the fact that your ideas are relevant enough for your superiors to consider stealing them is a form of compliment. This further solidifies your position in the company. If downsizing should happen, you are certain your position will not be the first to go. These viewpoints can help you think less of the practice until you grow comfortable with it.
2. Ask the right questions
Words spoken cannot be taken back. This is why you should choose your words wisely. Instead of throwing accusations, ask the right questions - particularly those that have to do with “why”. This shifts the burden to your boss, as they will need to come out with a good excuse that justifies their action.
Research shows it is better to ask why it happened than to make claims. Asking your boss questions like, 'Do you feel the presentation was fine?' and 'Is there any point you think you missed?' will open up your boss to the reality of their mistake. The point is not to throw blame, but to make them realize something was amiss.
3. Equip yourself with witnesses
Some people ask if it matters who gets the credit. The truth is that in every organization, the amount of your creative input is often the criteria for promotions, pay rises and assignments, according to the author of HBR Guide to Office Politics, Karen Dillion.
If idea theft becomes a reccurring issue in your organization, it may be time for you to change your approach too. Assuming it is not the first time that your boss has stolen your idea and you feel it is becoming a clog to your career progress, try to unveil the situation to the rest of the team.
If the members of the team have no clue about what is happening, don’t disclose any ideas or make suggestions to your boss until they are present. Your co-workers should always be there to witness you pitch your idea to your boss. They will be the ones to vouch for you when it comes down to your word against your boss’. If it means shifting establishments, your witness can serve as a reference for your new job.
4. Talk to your boss about the situation
The longer you wait, the stronger the resentment will become. It is better to approach your boss early to talk about the situation. Start and end the conversation on a positive note. Discuss various projects or various aspect of the same project. The positive mood created will give you the opportunity to chip in your complaint.
Take your time to highlight the role of your idea that lead to the success of the project. Then, talk about how your contribution was erased and how the entire scenario affects your attitude to work. Use professional, productive language to present your case. The idea is to arouse your boss’ empathy and not to pick a fight.
5. Create a document timeline
If you foresee movements that suggest your boss is likely to take credit for an ongoing project, it is important you start an early paper trail that will help you demonstrate the idea was your brainchild.
Employ the power of technology to turn the tides. For example, work via emails and save copies of all sent or received emails. You can make marks on your calendar to show the timeline of past projects. These documents will help you demonstrate that you were the brain behind the success of your former establishment when you move to a new one.
6. Teach your boss how to give credit
Some bosses steal ideas without commendation simply out of ignorance, rather than to hurt your feelings. In this case, you can be the catalyst that will spur your boss into an attitude change. Tell your boss how proud you are about the other members of the team for their different inputs and how the contributions are helping you.
When you sow this seed of appreciation or give out credit in the mind of your boss, water it with constant reminders. Over time, it will help your boss relate to how the success of other members of the team is indispensable to their own success.
7. Give your boss the recognition they seek
Many bosses that steal ideas are desperately scavenging for relevance and recognition. If you discover that your boss is seeking validation, you can make it easier for them to get it by resorting to public praise.
There are many ways you can do this without making it look like you are bootlicking your boss. For example, you might be in a staff meeting where you announce that your department has made specific strides by looking up to your boss. You can also send an email to your boss congratulating them for an achievement.
Principles you should not forget:
Give yourself ample time to cool off and better access the situation. Don’t take hasty decisions.
Make your contributions as clear and simple as possible whenever you get the chance to talk about them.
Seek the help of your colleagues to blow your trumpet whenever a topic on the project comes up.
Have the mindset that you must get credit for all your contributions.
Assume that your boss has malicious intentions for taking your shine.
Resort to accusations.
No matter how well-mannered you are, watching another person take your credit can be too much of a pill to swallow, especially if it reoccurs. It can hurt both your ego and your career. Keeping calm may not always work leading to the adoption of a better technique. However, you should learn to strike a balance between the amount of credit you get and the quality of work you do.
Credit theft is becoming very popular, so you may have had a taste of it. Tell us what it felt like and how you dealt with it. Feel free to share this article with your friends to see if they have had the same experience.