Many of my business coaching clients are doing their best to advance. They’re clawing their way up the corporate ladder and do quite well reaching executive levels, however, not without challenges. One such challenge that I commonly see is when a manager steals a subordinate’s ideas. Let’s face it, sometimes you might actually be smarter than your boss.

Times are tough and competition fierce and this all too common practice can cause high anxiety and stress in the manager/employee relationship. Since the balance of power favors the manager given that he or she controls appraisals, promotions, and raises, it can render one feeling frustrated, betrayed, and unsure how to proceed. This quandary is a tough situation as you’re trying simultaneously to protect your hard work, maintain your job, and not upset or even make the person who oversees your work feel unqualified. Knowing though how to strike a balance among honesty, diplomacy, and directness is crucial in dealing with this issue.

  1. Change your thinking and try to see this for what it is: by taking your ideas, your manager is actually complimenting you. He or she is just going about it entirely wrong.
  2. Ask your manager for a review, clarify duties, responsibilities, expectations and express your strong dedication and commitment to the job. In a non-accusatory way tell him/her that you feel you don’t always get full credit or recognition for your efforts and that it’s really important that you do because you value hard work.
  3. Approach the situation gently by taking the stance that there may be a problem of miscommunication: “I’m sure it wasn’t intentional but I noticed my name was left off the reports.” This indirect approach will send the message that you’re fully aware of what’s going on and hopefully it will lead to change.
  4. Speak to a mentor within the company. A senior level employee will likely be more familiar with the corporate culture and policy and can provide direction and support. Find someone you can trust and who is familiar with your work.
  5. Protect yourself by keeping emails and maintaining a paper trail. Copy your manager on emails that show progress you’re making.
  6. Think like a leader: interact with senior level colleagues conveying your cutting-edge ideas and expertise so they’re aware of your capabilities and skills. This serves two purposes: A.) Helps to promote the perception that you’re an important and vital player in the company. B.) Sets you up for advancement within the company should things not work out with your current supervisor.

Ultimately if things don’t change, then bring human resources into the situation. Remember to be calm and respectful because getting credit isn’t worth much if it’s done at the expense of losing your job.

Originally published at


  • Jonathan Alpert

    Psychotherapist, executive performance coach, and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. Twitter: @JonathanAlpert

    Jonathan Alpert is a psychotherapist, columnist, performance coach and author in Manhattan. As a psychotherapist, he has helped countless couples and individuals overcome a wide range of challenges and go on to achieve success. He discussed his results-oriented approach in his 2012 New York Times Opinion piece, “In Therapy Forever? Enough Already”, which continues to be debated and garner international attention. Alpert is frequently interviewed by major TV, print and digital media outlets and has appeared on the Today Show, CNN, FOX, and Good Morning America discussing current events, mental health, hard news stories, celebrities/politicians, as well as lifestyle and hot-button issues. He appears in the 2010 Oscar-winning documentary, Inside Job commenting on the financial crisis. With his unique insight into how people think and their motivations, Alpert helps clients develop and strengthen their brands. He has been a spokesperson for NutriBullet, Liberty Mutual insurance, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Jonathan’s 2012 book BE FEARLESS: Change Your Life in 28 Days has been translated into six languages worldwide. Alpert continues to provide advice to the masses through his, Huffington Post, and Thrive columns. @JonathanAlpert