Dear Aunty B,
SmartCompany is for bosses, so maybe you can peer into my boss’s head and tell me why he takes all my ideas and presents them as his own. It is really annoying.
The other day I came up with a great idea to expand our sales strategy into a new distribution channel. My boss asked me to outline it to him before the meeting, and then walked into the meeting, presented it to the team as “our” idea (that is, “we’ve had a really good idea on…”) and asked me to expand on it.
I was so angry that I did a bad job explaining it. My team also complain about him stealing our ideas. Should I confront him in a meeting and point out it was my idea?
Oh, I had a boss just like yours. The way it worked was this. I would present an idea and he would screw up his nose, make disparaging noises and walk off. Then a few weeks later he would walk into my little cubicle and re-present my idea with a “I’ve been thinking,…”
So I made a huge sign. It read: “My ideas sound so much better coming from you.”
Whenever he walked in to re-present an idea, I would point to the sign, smile and then get on with fleshing out the idea.
The first lesson, my friend, is I didn’t sulk, carry on and write letters to Aunty B.
My second point; all bosses “steal ideas”.
In fact, if you turn it around the other way, bosses pay you to come up with ideas to help them run their business. After all, your boss had his one big idea when he hired you!
Now, before I offer a solution may I point out there are two types of bosses who filch ideas.
First, you have the incompetent idiot boss who really has no idea what he is doing and is desperately insecure. These people tend to be managers, who are smart enough to know they are stupid and are highly political. They should not be managing people and you will get nowhere having a word to this type of person except to turn yourself into a target.
Then there is the boss who is so focused on growth, so desperate for profit, running so fast, that he or she simply neglects to give credit where it is due. A gentle reminder to this type of boss can work wonders.
But Mick, there is another alternative. Many entrepreneurs start their own business because they have more ideas – and better ideas – than their employers. It could well be that you need to contemplate a different future!
Your Aunty B.