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Anonymous Career Advice

Stealing Ideas

This week’s anonymous advice column is quite common and something you will likely face, stealing ideas and passing them off as their own.

Dear Focus, one of my colleagues steals ideas and passes them off as their own. It happens multiple times a year, what do I do to ensure the company know they are mine or my team’s ideas?

Firstly, I am sorry you are experiencing this, unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence and is something that I would imagine that everyone goes through once or twice a year.

What worries me if it happens multiple times per year and if this is an occurrence of the last couple of years, it is either
(a) they do not know they are repacking ideas,
(b) they know they are doing it as you have not brought it up with them or
(c) potentially they are in a better position to push this idea forward.

We are always taught to apply the best intentions first, I imagine in this scenario the best way to address this is to arrange a meeting and raise these ideas with dates and how they have taken them on and packaged as their own. Conflict is difficult for many staff members especially between colleagues, however, you have to address it.

Many businesses are built so the best ideas bubble to the top and brought forward for the best of the company, this is something to keep in mind and ensure you remember whilst having the conversation and response you may receive.

Importantly, moving your career forward you will come across this situation and resolution in most companies, the way you deal with it is addressing in a positive manner and the first move is to raise and then address this. In times of conflict, many will see the best of you, versus the worst traits of you.

If the ideas are being repackaged and they are aware, this is where you have to make a decision, bring the best ideas to the right management team or action these ideas in your team and write the specification to bring other teams into the project.

Working transparently and showing off your work and ideas are essential, not only for more transparency within your business but for colleagues recognition but personal development within the business.

It’s important to remember the jobs in this situation:
– Your job is to make the company successful.
– If you have a manager or fellow leadership team, this is their job to take notice, attempt to address or be made aware of this is happening and how you are going to resolve this while making the company progress.
– The company’s job is to push these business decisions forward and enable success.

Good luck with address this, if you cannot address this personally, I would recommend bringing in your manager and showing examples but keep in mind this is likely going to raise more questions. I would recommend not raising this issue with the management team unless you are in the MT and consider how you work transparently and present ideas.

Best of luck.


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