Unfortunately, that happens too often in the workplace.
Here’s how to deal with it and to keep it from happening to you:
Put your idea in writing before presenting it privately. For example, draft a quick Word or PowerPoint version laying out your ideas or send a quick e-mail after a private discussion.
Example: “Frank, thanks so much for chatting just now about my idea. I love the tweaks you suggested. I’ll incorporate those revisions to my plan and share it at next week’s staff meeting.” That way, you’ve given Frank credit for his ideas and made it difficult for him to pretend it’s his idea.
Cut idea-stealers short, if they try to pitch your concept in front of others.
Example: “Jane, remember that I wrote you to say I’m going to present my plan, with your additions, at this meeting? That will happen in about 10 minutes. Let’s wait until we reach that point in the agenda.”
Don’t fear tooting your own horn if you discover that someone pitched your idea to the boss behind your back. Address the thief in public to assert that the idea is yours.
Example: “Wonderful! You took the idea that I shared with you yesterday and added some terrific touches! Well done!”
That way, you reclaim the idea in a positive way, and show that you know what the pilferer is doing.