Manager Takes Credit For Ideas

Question  to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a manager taking credit that belongs to a supervisor .

I am a supervisor. I have a department manager who is rude and condescending when she speaks to our department director. She always gets her way, even if it is not in the best interests of the other departments.She also turns down the ideas of her employees, only to go to the director and get credit for the same idea.All of this has created situation where, even if we feel we aren’t being treated fairly, we can’t report her because nothing will be done about it. What can we do?

Signed, Concerned

Dear Concerned:

Hello. I edited your question to clarify it.I hope it reflects your situation. If not, please let us know more. I assumed your references to “they” referred to only one person–and that person is a higher level than you. She is a manager and you are a supervisor. She isn’t courteous to your department director, but your department director allows her to get by with it. But your main concern, personally, is that she takes credit for the ideas of others and you wonder what can be done about it. You don’t mention what kind of work you do or what type of organizational layout there is. But, it sounds as though there are a number of departments and other directors. Probably everyone is aware of her actions and all have allowed it to continue, thinking nothing can be done. Or, maybe no one else is concerned about her actions.

The reality is that in most workplaces ideas are tossed around, improved upon and presented without full credit acknowledgement. So, there is probably nothing you can do to make it completely better. Unless your salary depends on how many ideas you produce or if there is a cash award involved, the main concern is personal satisfaction for having ideas recognized.

Another reality is that there is no good way to tell higher level people, “I thought of that, not her”, unless there is clear documentation of how ideas were generated, who did all of the thinking and what value each person’s contribution actually was. All you can control is your own work and that of the employees you supervise. So, put your focus on giving credit within your own work area for ideas that have been presented and are later accepted by higher levels.

*Consider presenting ideas in writing, so there is proof of your involvement and the involvement of others.

*After an idea has been accepted and your manager has taken credit for it, consider writing an email to her in which you say you were happy the ideas of your employee (or you) was accepted. Approach it as though you are interested in what was said about it by those higher up. That might remind her of the source.

*Keep a good record of discussions and meetings, so you can at least ask that good ideas you developed be mentioned in your performance evaluation.

*Ask for meetings in which concerns can be expressed and good work acknowledged. Perhaps that will encourage full sharing. Those things won’t make work completely fair, but unless you want to quit, go to a higher level and complain or talk directly to your manager about it, they are probably your best options.Best wishes with this situation. Keep the faith that your work is valued even though not everything you do is fully acknowledged.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.