So your boss steals your best brainstorms. (We should all be so lucky.) Plus, should an MBA work for rupees?
Q: My boss takes credit for my ideas. How can I set the record straight without seeming petty?
A: Be thankful that your boss is stealing your ideas, because the best way to make your boss love you is to make him or her feel smart.
I say this because I’ve stolen ideas. I’d be in the car or the shower, and I’d have an idea for my company that had to be implemented immediately, so I’d grab a pen and start writing notes to myself. I’d get to the office and announce the new plans. Everyone would nod in agreement, affirming my brilliance. Afterward, in private, my best employee would say to me, “You took my idea again. I told it to you yesterday, remember?” It’s not as though I intentionally stole them. I was always shocked to hear they were not my own. And it’s not like I thought I contributed all the good ideas. I didn’t keep count. I knew we were both very important to the company. But I never understood the point of her making sure I knew it was her idea. You couldn’t say I didn’t appreciate her. After I cashed out of the first company I started, I hired her at my next company. I gave her glowing evaluations and solid raises. Everyone knew she was the person I depended on the most. What else could she have wanted?
Credit for ideas is overrated anyway. In most cases, one’s job is not to sit in an office and think up ideas. On your resume, you list projects completed, money saved, sales achieved — not your brilliant ideas. In today’s market, the phrase “I’m an ideas guy” carries about as much weight as a stack of dotcom stock options.
And listen: Don’t go over your boss’s head. Your boss’s boss does not care about your stolen ideas. If your boss stinks at her job, your boss’s boss will figure it out without any help from you. If your boss is good at her job, she will not be fired upon your whining. Think of it as selflessly donating some ideas in exchange for a good relationship with your boss.
Q: I’ll be graduating from a top MBA program soon, and obviously I’m battling a very tough job market. I’ve been offered a job in India with a top multinational. The salary, paid in rupees, is only equal to about $30,000 a year, but I have no other offers as yet. What should I do?
A: Paid in rupees, eh? It really is tough out there for B-schoolers. But despite the seemingly paltry salary — enough to live well by local standards — I’d say go for it. International experience always looks good on a resume, and few people have it. Once you’re back in the States, you’ll be worth more to the company because of it. In my opinion, that beats holding out for a domestic job that may or may not appear.
I have just one reservation. Not everyone is cut out for work abroad, so before you sign on, take a good look in the mirror. Research shows that the three most important factors for success are a strong sense of self (because you’ll be cut off from your old network of friends), the motivation to fit into a foreign culture, and having a mentor who can show you exactly how to do that. (This research is not my own, I hasten to add, but comes from Joyce S. Osland, a professor of organizational behavior at San Jose State University. Who am I to take credit for someone else’s ideas?)
Written by Penelope Trunk.
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