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Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at www.gladysedmunds.com

Don't Upstage the Boss

Don't Upstage the Boss

Dear Gladys,

I am not an entrepreneur and I don’t own or have any investments in a business. I work in a major corporation and yet I find much of your writings helpful. I am a cog in the wheel at a large health insurance company and I’m working hard to reach a higher level. Every time I give my manager a good idea she takes ownership of it and I get pushed to the background. So, at the advice of a friend, the last idea I came up with I took it straight to the CEO myself. He was very pleased with it and implemented the idea into the company. The problem is that since this happened my supervisor has become my biggest nightmare, and I feel like she is trying to drive me out of the company. How can I handle this situation?

Thanks - Miles

I think it was Voltaire who said, “Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies.” Your friend gave you poor advice. Everyone has insecurities, and the very worst can come out of a person when you expose his or her insecurities, which is what you did to your manager.

Many people believe that displaying their wit, wisdom and intelligence will reap rewards for them. And in some cases, that’s true, that is, until it comes to an insecure boss. A good clue here is presented with your manager taking ownership of your ideas and not giving you credit.

Unfortunately, this occurs often in both large and small companies. And, I can imagine that your manager is making life tough for you. However, according to the wise counsel that I’ve learned from my grandmother there are only three things that you can do when faced with any problem in life – change it, accept it completely, or walk away from it.

Now let’s review these options. To change it would require you to participate in a game in order to make life bearable. Go to your manager and have a heart to heart talk. Tell her that your ideas are merely a result of her brilliant leadership and that it was not your intention to distress or offends her in any way. Spoken properly could bring about a change of heart on her part.

Next there’s accept it completely, this option would require you to accept the situation as it is and deal with the nightmare and do your best to focus your attention more on your work and less on her behavior. However, I would imagine that a manager who carries bad feelings for a prolonged period and acts on those feelings is probably pretty close to losing her cool altogether and a couple more good idea trips by you to the CEO would probably throw her completely over the edge and she would leave. Or, she will figure out a way to get rid of you!

And finally, there’s walk away from it. Now this option would mean that you completely escape the environment and find other employment.

These kinds of situations can be a real pain and yet they are real and must be handled. I have given you a choice of three things that came to mind as I read your email. The real lesson to be learned here is one of exercising caution in upstaging your manager or supervisor in the future. I understand that you want to be rewarded for your brilliance or, at the very least, recognized. However, there are other creative ways to get your just due without exposing the insecurities of someone.

I once had a young man who worked in my company and he had brilliant ideas all of the time. And I couldn’t help but to notice that he was always involving other staff people (his manager included) to help him refine the ideas. By the time the idea or project got to me it had ownership of the entire staff and nobody felt put out or insecure. You might want to try that with your next boss if it doesn’t work with the current one. Folks like to believe that they are a part of the process.

And by the way, the next time you ask your friend for advice, sit down and brainstorm with a few more people before you act. And consider the options that I have suggested here as well.