What to Do When a Co-Worker Steals Ideas From You

workOne in four (25 percent) employees said a co-worker had taken credit for their ideas, found a survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam. It?s not just ideas co-workers have been known to steal; at the top of the list is lunch taken from the office breakroom.

So what should you do if you nab a co-worker with sticky fingers red handed? ?Before speaking to the person who has stolen the idea from you, assess the situation to determine if it?s worth taking action. It may not be worth addressing if it?s something minor. Bringing it up could damage your reputation or work relationships,? notes Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam.

How can you prove to your boss these were, indeed, your ideas? Talk about your ideas with your boss and others in the office, even if it is just to bounce them off of someone you trust. ?Share your thoughts during meetings so others are aware of the ideas you?ve come up with,? says Britton. ?Provide a regular report to your manager highlighting your ideas and accomplishments so there is no confusion about where credit is due.? ?But she adds, be cautious. Says Britton, ?Don’t expect co-workers to be as trustful as you are. Avoid telling anyone your ideas without others around to witness.?

Leaving a paper trail is also a great way to keep your ideas ?your ideas.? ?Try to ensure you save your work to the company server or company computer with your name somewhere on the document. The file will be timestamped with your last save which hopefully would be an earlier date than the time your co-worker presented their own version. That makes it even more important to save your work frequently,? advises Brooke Straiton, founder/career coach at A-Lister WorkForce Academy.

How can you complain without looking like a complainer? ?Whether someone is stealing your lunch or your ideas and it?s something you feel is worth fighting for, it can be best to have a one-on-one discussion with the individual before bringing it up with others,? Britton points out. ?If a coworker continues to steal from you even after you?ve spoken with the individual, alert your supervisor. He or she will likely be able to offer additional suggestions for handling the situation.?