4 ways NOT to lose your mind when coworkers mimic your work
This snapped us to attention.
Evan Spiegel, Snap’s CEO, took on copycats with a chuckle during his first-ever earnings call with investors on Wednesday. “You have to get comfortable with and enjoy the fact that someone is going to copy you if you make great stuff,” Spiegel said in response to a question about Facebook allegedly copying some of Snapchat’s endeavors like its Stories.
He continues with another dig at the social media giant, noting that even though someone is supposedly copying you, doesn’t mean they’re doing what you do as well as you do it. When comparing Snap’s current rivalry with Facebook with that of Google and Yahoo years back, he says: “At the end of the day, just because Yahoo has a search box, it doesn’t mean they’re Google.”
Oh, snap! In other words, make sure you’re the best — and copying (at least copying that isn’t just straight plagiarism) isn’t a problem. Of course, that’s easier said than done — and no one likes a copycat even if they do their work better than that pesky mime. So Moneyish asked experts what to do if a workplace copycat is annoying the crap out of you.
Use this to make yourself even better. “You first have to consider why this is so annoying to you,” says career coach Roy Cohen. “Is it because you’re not doing enough to manage your evolution as a professional.” Cohen says that a copycat can be a sign that you should change and grow in your career — developing new skills or processes that enhance your work product further. He adds that this may also be the time to ask to take on more leadership at the company, offering to mentor others, for example.
Subtly encourage the copycat to develop their own talents and style. “If you can catch them doing something good that is not a copycat of what you would do, then you can praise them for it and encourage them that they have talents that need to be further explored,” says Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer. “This is a way of discouraging them from being copycats without overtly telling them that you don’t appreciate their copying you.” If you must say something, let the copycat know that you’re flattered that they are mimicking your style, but that maybe they want to do something more or differently so that they can stand out on their own too, says Cohen; make it about helping them rather than simply putting down the copycatting.
Be more secretive. If it’s really bothering you, Cohen says there’s no reason you can’t be a bit more secretive about what you’re working on and how you do what you do. “You might have been showing off before,” he says — and that’s why the copycat is on your trail.
Remember that this is flattering — and can lift up the whole team. That someone is copycatting you “is a good sign professionally,” says Cohen: “It means that what you are doing is impressing other people enough that they want to do it themselves — that’s very flattering.” It also can help the entire department, field or even industry do better, as Spiegel points out himself: “We believe that everyone is going to develop a camera strategy,” he said. “I think we really help everyone understand how valuable the camera is.”
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