My boss has a bad habit of rejecting my ideas and sprucing them up a bit, then presenting it to top management without mentioning my name. Sometimes, he’s brazen enough to bring up my excellent ideas without any revision and claims credit for them. I’m sick and tired of my work situation. How do I handle his toxic ways? — Fed Up.
After the Sunday school teacher told the story of the prodigal son to young boys and girls, she asked one important question so the class could reflect on the lesson: “Was anyone sorry when the prodigal son returned to his father?”
One boy raised his hand and answered: “Yes, Mam! It’s the fatted calf.”
In every work situation, there will always be someone who must act as the sacrificial lamb, if not a slaughtered calf, to achieve a department goal. This could be revolting for you and other workers similarly situated. It’s a natural reaction of people who think they’re being cheated, except that if you’re in the workplace, there’s no such thing as being cheated as long as you remain a corporate slave.
If you’re working for a boss, expect that some, if not all of your ideas will be treated as department accomplishments rather than your personal milestones or those of your boss. Many times, the credit goes to the boss who facilitates the creation of all these good ideas. This is difficult to understand. But let me ask you this question: Why are you craving the attention of your top management, and not by your own boss?
Who will be evaluating your work performance? Is it your boss or top management? Can you imagine bypassing your boss so that your ideas are recognized by top management? Clearly, you could be courting disaster resulting in a poor work relationship with your boss, and possibly inviting him to charge you with insubordination or other offenses.
If you were not given any credit, then accept it as a matter of routine, no matter how tough it is. Otherwise, you can go elsewhere. This is not to say that giving credit to people is bad. It’s just that there are bosses out there that have a different style of managing people. For one, you may think that you have an excellent idea, but your boss could see it differently.
This is one hurdle that you can overlook, especially when your idea is not extraordinary, simple to understand, and easy to implement. And the bigger trouble is that many idea proponents often think they have the best proposal out there, when in fact, it’s not. To proceed with your situation in an objective manner, try the following approaches:
One, be the fiercest critic of your own ideas. Before showing your proposal to the boss, explore all possible arguments that he may raise and demolish them all with a much stronger and reasonable counter-arguments. You can also show your ideas to your best friends and ask them to help you strengthen your position. That is, if you’re confident that your best friends won’t copy your ideas and submit them to the boss.
Two, give credit to your friends for their ideas. This can attract good karma, if not positive vibes. Having an optimistic mindset can bring you to greater heights and glory. Just the same, always be willing to modify your ideas to accommodate their good ideas, and of course, to give justice to their contributions. Accepting other people’s ideas and thanking them for it would help solidify support and give your allies to help promote your cause in the interest of co-ownership.
Three, present your reinforced ideas in person to the boss. A personal, one-on-one submission of your ideas to the boss is less likely to be rejected. The length of time that you used in discussing your thoughts may give the boss a hint about where credit is due. Also, it will give you ample opportunity to counter any objections. Be diplomatically assertive without alienating the boss. Show enthusiasm and a positive manner. Quantify the exact value of your ideas in figures. Then prove it.
Four, confirm the submission of your ideas in writing. Do this via email. Your email must appear like the “minutes of meeting” that summarize your discussion with the boss.
This is your proof that the ideas came from you. But more than anything, it should be your protection against any blame, in case your boss decides to drag his feet, and bad things happen because of his inaction.
Last, send as many good ideas as possible to your boss. This is counter-intuitive when you’re dealing with a credit-grabbing boss. But there’s no other way. The boss must be psychologically trained to know where those great ideas are coming from. If he knows that you’re a veritable gold mine of ideas, he knows where to go. With that alone, he can’t afford to lose you.
Once you’ve become comfortable with this approach, you may soon forget about anticipating all credit and support the boss all the way. This could be guesswork to some extent. But there’s no harm in trying. The only thing you stand to lose is your ill will.
ELBONOMICS: Seek long-term respect and not short-term credit for your work.