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Shield yourself from ‘idea theft’

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The boss commends a co-worker for coming up with a brilliant way to do something. Trouble is, it’s your idea, the one you told your co-worker weeks ago.

The next time a bright idea tumbles out of your mouth, protect yourself from idea theft. Two ways to do it:

1. Follow-up a meeting with e-mail. Whether it’s a casual huddle in the hall or a scheduled sit-down, e-mail a brief recap. Example: “On Nov. 20, at 10 am, John, Sue and I discussed ways to improve customer service. I suggested x; Sue added to the idea by suggesting y; and John plans to start working on it.” Send it to all parties, and “cc” your boss. At the very least, the group understands that the idea was a team effort.

2. Record accurate, brief accounts of conversations in the Notes or Journal section of your e-mail software. It could be worded as in the previous example. If you need to refer back to the facts, you have a dated record. It also gives you something to cut and paste into a weekly report, if you do them.

Bonus benefit: Keeping copious notes with dates and times also acts like a shield against false accusations. You can always refer to your notes and say, “Yes, we did talk about that on Oct. 4, and you said, quote: ‘We’ll have Jon’s department take over fulfillment after Thanksgiving.’” When co-workers and management become aware that you document thoroughly, they’ll rise to the occasion and communicate more clearly.

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