What To Do When Your Boss Steals Your Ideas

Realizing that your boss has taken the credit for a project that you’ve worked on for weeks is one of the worst job-related situations you can find yourself in. Not only does it make you feel powerless, but it’s also one of the worst ways for a boss to depreciate their employee’s hard work.

The big question is—How do you react to such a situation? While you may feel like the just thing to do is to stand up for yourself and let everyone know that your boss has wronged you as soon as possible, chances are that your rushed actions will only hurt your career.

Let’s take a look at some of the more strategic approaches that you can take.

Evaluate the Situation

Before you decide to take any action, you should take a step back and make sure that you’re right. While it may seem like your boss is wronging you, chances are that the situation is not what it looks like. There are a few explanations that you should consider.

It could be that your boss is aggregating all the work to present it to the rest of the team efficiently. There’s also a chance that you came up with the idea but it went through various iterations before the final version. In such situations, crediting you might be impractical, but it doesn’t mean your boss won’t give you the commendation that you deserve later.

Document Your Work

If you’re certain that your boss is stealing your ideas, you should do your best to document everything. Keep all your notes and emails, and create audio recordings throughout the project if it’s allowed. 

When you’re exchanging emails about your work, you can put all the appropriate people in the CC and give them access to specific files. This way, you can make most of your colleagues and supervisors aware of what you’re working on.

Share Your Ideas With More People

Don’t let your boss be the only one that knows about your ideas. You should find appropriate situations to share them with the rest of the team whenever you can. 

Aside from referencing your work during conversations, you can talk about what you’re doing on social media channels. Present your ideas in broader terms while still making it obvious that you’re the source. The best place to do this is LinkedIn because it can have more severe consequences on your boss’ professional career if the truth comes to light.

You should also let your colleagues know that they can ask you anything they’re interested in about the project. By showing that you’re the expert on it and that you can provide some information that your boss can’t, it’ll be obvious that you at least took a crucial part in it.

Talk to Your Boss

If you know that your boss can be reasonable, you should try approaching them directly. Do your best not to be hostile. You should present your case by trying to make the boss see the situation from your perspective. Let them know how it made you feel and how it reflects on your career goals. 

You can try telling your boss that you worked hard on that project for some time and that not getting the credit for it discouraged you. If you’re a valuable asset to the company, it’s in the boss’ interest not to lose you because of their mistake.

Keep in mind that your boss might not be fully aware of what they’ve done. Instead of accusing them, try finding out more about their intentions. Chances are that they’ll realize that they’re in the wrong and remedy the situation.

Let Others Know

If talking to your boss works and they admit they’ve made a mistake, you should move on. In case they steal your ideas again after you’ve discussed it with them, you need to talk to other employees about the issue. Ask your mentor or other higher-ranking co-workers for advice. You can also go to the HR department and let them know about the situation. They can help you file any necessary paperwork and verify that you’re in the right.

If nothing works and your boss keeps devaluing your work by stealing it, you should look for a different job. Let the HR department know why you felt that leaving was the only solution, and present it to hiring managers as a situation that made you realize how important integrity and cooperation are.

If you want to read about other work-related situations, check out: