How to Stop Colleagues From Taking Credit for Your Great Ideas

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Self-promotion is a vital activity for everyone, and sometimes it’s harder for Introverts. But just because it can be a challenge, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. No one but you will promote your cause. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

There are many things you can do that constitute self-promotion, and one of those is promoting your great ideas. Creative idea generation is as important as your ability to get results and take responsibility for things.

The problem you can face is what to do when you discover someone has ripped off your great idea. It’s more than just irritating; it won’t enhance your career if you aren’t acknowledged for an idea whose ownership is given to someone else. Especially if that idea is a seriously good one.

Here are some tips for you to consider to help prevent or to deal with this issue:


1. Be Realistic

There is some good news, and that is that someone thinks your idea has merit, or they wouldn’t have chosen to share it as their own. Being mimicked is a high form of flattery. That said, the downside to this situation is that you don’t get credited for the good idea. Your good ideas is part of your self-promotion — it’s how people come to view your potential.

Let me just say this to set your expectations — you can never completely protect your ideas. But you can do some things to help reduce the likelihood of other people taking credit.


2. Spread the Word

When you toss out an idea, toss it out to more than one person. It doesn’t have to be at the same time, but the more people hear your idea, the more people will know it’s yours. That way if someone does try to represent the idea as yours, others will know it came from you.


3. Document It Early

When appropriate, document your idea via email. Again, it’s hard to misrepresent something that’s in black and white and sent to others.


4. Reclaim It

This may take some effort, but you can inject a quick ownership soundbite when someone has talked up your idea as their own. You could say something like, “I guess you really did like my idea. We should talk about it some more.”

It’s important for you to realize that when someone does this, it usually isn’t done with foul intent. We all have tons of information coming at us all the time and don’t always remember its origins. I have a couple people very close to me that do this all the time.


5. Know When to Fight (and When Not to)

If you do know that someone has done this not only repeatedly, but to undermine you, you need to stop sharing with them if you can.

Understand your boss may do this to you (as well as others in your group) and that situation is different. Sometimes, management does represent ideas, work and results as theirs to simplify communication. In some ways, they have to represent everything going on in their group, and it may not be appropriate to detail out every single person’s contribution. The main thing is that the boss does recognize your ideas and contributions.

You may need to ultimately confront your offender or discuss this issue with your boss for their guidance. Only take these steps if the tips outlined above have failed to stop a “repeat offender.”

Have you ever suffered idea theft? How did you handle the situation? Share your stories in the comments!

Image: Flickr

Brought to you by Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – dedicated to unleash your professional potential.

About Dorothy

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is the Introvert Whisperer, Career & Leadership, speaker and author.

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