The Office Idea-Thief

22 Jul

Letterbalm Unhappy WorkerDear LetterBalm: How do you handle someone who unfairly takes all the credit?  One of my co-workers is a real master at doing very little but somehow coming to the attention of our bosses as the guy who does everything so well. We all know what he does – he’s careful to take credit for only the things that don’t have a paper trail, like verbal suggestions in a meeting or embellishing someone else’s idea. If any of us try to toot our own horn, we come across as “spoil sports” or “not working for the team” or “we’re all in this together, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” This is making a real problem for morale. The guy has been promoted to leader of one of the teams, and people are pissed off. Is there anything we can do?

–Workplace Saboteur

Well, you can always kidnap him, tie him up and keep him in his own home. Oh, wait. That was a movie, and the victim was an insufferable boss. Ms. L.B. says there isn’t much you can do. He sounds like he has the ear of his bosses who believe everything he says. Your best bet is to wait until he trips up – but there’s no guarantee he will. And, your bosses have made it clear that complaining isn’t an option. For now, everyone should continue to be professional, give their all for the team and document everything – who actually made the suggestion/strategy/plan, those who implemented them, and the results in real terms. If you’ve watched too much CSI, you can always type an anonymous letter off-site without leaving an e-trail, fingerprints or DNA, mail it to him and don’t tell another soul. It’ll make you feel all righteous; it probably won’t make any difference, however:

Dear Dick,

Congratulations on being named team leader. You know, and we all know, you don’t deserve the promotion.

Continue claiming ideas and results that aren’t yours. Continue sucking up to those in charge. Continue watching morale on your team and all the teams deteriorate and know that your dishonesty and unethical behavior are the chief reasons.

You could have been a true team player, but you’re such a fearful little person, you think that you have to cheat those you work with to be successful. You don’t care about the company or your co-workers. You care only about yourself. Eventually, your actions will catch up with you – maybe not now, maybe not in a long time, and maybe not on this job. But, eventually. And, when that happens, think back to everything you did and know you have only yourself to blame.

                                                               Your co-workers

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