Does your boss take credit for your work?

Rachel Farrell, Special to CareerBuilder

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You and your boss have been preparing for a presentation with the executive suite to pitch a new business initiative. During your preparations, you offered several ideas to your boss -- many of which were ignored.

During the presentation, the C-suite doesn't seem too impressed with anything you or your boss has suggested. Suddenly, your boss pitches a different idea, which they love. Problem is, he's proposed one of your ideas that he had previously shot down.

Sadly, bosses take credit for their employees' work and ideas more often than we think. Twenty-five percent of respondents in a recent survey conducted by Persuadable Research Corporation say they are not satisfied with their current boss, partially because the boss takes credit for other people's work. "The boss rejects most if not all ideas, but months later the same idea might come back passed off as his own," one survey respondent said.

"Some bosses take credit for others' work because they lack emotional intelligence and they don't realize how demoralizing it is for employees to be deprived of credit for their accomplishments," says Janet Scarborough Civitelli, workplace psychologist with VocationVillage.com.

Carolyn Thompson, author of "Ten Secrets to Getting Promoted," agrees that usually, bosses may not be consciously stealing your great ideas.

"The boss is responsible for the production of a group of people. As a leader, his or her reputation is on the line for every idea, program or product they put forth," she says. "Some employees, as they come up the ranks, lack self-confidence and sometimes their need for individual recognition outweighs their satisfaction of being a team contributor to a group goal."

Fool me once, fool me twice

If your boss steals your ideas once, Civitelli says to make a mental note to pay closer attention in the future, in case it's a recurring problem. If you find it happens multiple times, it's time to take action.

Before confronting your manager about the situation, consider the outcome you're seeking from the conversation. For example, ask yourself if you're willing to take the fall if your stolen idea fails, as much as you are if it succeeds. If it's still a problem you want to address, you need to set an appointment to discuss the situation, Thompson says.

"Asking why you weren't given credit and being ready to listen to the answer is important. Take notes and document the date of your conversation so he knows you are taking this seriously. Ask to be recognized for your group contribution in the future and let him know you felt overlooked and that his inability to recognize you made you feel trivialized as a team member," Thompson says. "Once you make your feelings known it's not as likely it will happen again."

If you're having problems with you ideas not being communicated appropriately at work, here are three tips to consider:

1. Document everything

"Stop giving away your best ideas in private conversations or emails that can be stolen," Civitelli says.

Take notes on meetings, create files for yourself and document everything with email follow-ups, Thompson adds. Make sure to copy fellow meeting attendees and other supervisors as appropriate.

"People who do this aren't just doing it to you -- they do it to others and ultimately will be exposed," she reminds. "What goes around comes around and bad word spreads fast amongst the ranks."
2. Try to be team player

You're not the only one who likes to get credit for your work.

"You need to conduct yourself as someone that isn't a spotlight hog but rather someone that gives credit where credit is due," says Thompson. "Give public thanks and recognition to others on your team in meetings, phone calls and emails. Others will appreciate it as much as you seek it and you will create an open environment of sharing, even if your culture is not that way now."

Adds Civitelli, "Develop the habit of thanking others in public for collaborative efforts where you can also make clear what your role was."

3. Look for the greater good

Sometimes, the boss may not be actually "stealing" your idea, as much as he is pushing it through to the powers that be. If you're intent on getting credit anyway, be upfront about it, Thompson says.

"Requesting future kudos and due credit is a good way to move forward professionally, rather than asking someone to go back and make an announcement so you can get the credit you feel you deserve," she adds. "At the end of the day, you know it was your idea. You should take pride in seeing something you conceptualized come to life."

Rachel Farrell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

Last Updated: 10/05/2011 - 5:21 PM


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