Dear New Shrink,
I often come up with new ideas at work which I enjoy sharing with my team. However, several times now I have shared ideas with no immediate feedback. However, soon after someone else will re-state my idea and it will then move forward. I am concerned that I am not getting acknowledged for my ideas and that others are taking credit for my ideas. I realize that it may come down to the way I state my ideas or communicate to my team. Do you have any suggestions to ensure that I can get acknowledged for my ideas without seeming pushy or selfish?
Dear Needs Credit,
You’d be amazed at how many books, articles, and resources are written on this very topic. Taking and getting credit for one’s ideas is a problem that exists in many workgroups and industries.
First, consider your delivery method. The most effective communicators are those who speak with confidence. Be direct in your approach and be sure to speak loudly and clearly so all members can hear you easily. Share your ideas with conviction. If you do not believe in them, how do you expect others to? However, speaking a lot or using an intense or harassing tone may not get you the results you want. Spend time evaluating your style and noting areas where you can improve to get your desired result.
Now, consider the delivery method or techniques used by those who are recognized for their ideas. What is their style like? How is it received by other staff? How is it received by you? Pay particular attention to gender, age, and seniority dynamics. Is it that certain levels, genders, etc. get more recognition for their ideas? Exploring how others communicate and receive results will help you to better understand the styles that work for your team.
You should also consider the culture of your team and your workplace. If it is a competitive work environment, you may need to stand up for yourself and defend your ideas. For instance, if someone takes your idea and sells it as their own, it may be helpful to note how much you appreciate their support of your idea and their ability to build upon that foundation. If your workplace is focused on collaboration however, this approach may make you seem as though you are not a team player. Find ways to acknowledge the ideas of the team and the unique contributions of each member. Modeling the behavior you would like to see others display may be the first step to getting the results you want.
Make sure that your boss or direct supervisor knows your contributions. You may assume that just because that person was present in the meeting that they were actively noting your contributions. Unfortunately, your boss probably has many other things on his or her mind, so do not be afraid to mention your ideas.
If group meetings do not present ideal times for your ideas to be acknowledged, create your own system of sharing and getting credit for your ideas. When you come up with a great idea, share it with those around you. This will help you craft and perfect your idea and help to show numerous individuals that this was your idea. Self-marketing your ideas may also help you to build the confidence necessary to bring up your ideas in a clear and confident manner during larger staff meetings.
KATRINA DAVY is a Santa Monica-based professional career counselor who holds degrees from Cornell and Columbia universities. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions are kept anonymous; let us help you with your life matters! Visit us online at www.newshrink.com.