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Young VP can't get any respect from senior executes

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in Dealing with Bosses,Office Management

Q. I’m a 28-year-old female vice president. I’ve been at this company for five-plus years. My bosses live and work at our affiliate company in Brazil. When I send e-mails or memos explaining a problem, solution and repercussions if we don’t act, I get no reply. I know they receive my messages. I feel as though they treat me like a receptionist instead of their VP!

How do I get the respect I deserve? I’m ready to quit because it seems that I’m unimportant to them, but if I leave they have no one to run the company. I’d rather get their replies. I have addressed my concern of not getting replies, but I don’t get a reply!

A. When you’re operating far from your company’s home office, you cannot afford to wait around for your remote bosses to give you the go-ahead to act on your ideas. The only reason to remain in a job where you’re in an isolated outpost is if you wield full autonomy to call the shots. Otherwise, as you’ve discovered, you have the worst of both worlds: You feel ignored and immobilized at the same time!

In your case, you’ve come to a head with your employer. It’s time to put things to the test. Arrange a meeting (in Brazil, if necessary) to delineate with your bosses your specific responsibilities, the size of the budget you control, the ways in which your performance will be measured, etc. Get everything in writing. Make sure they let you assemble the systems that you need to function effectively (such as investing in the proper technology) and keep you in the loop (such as by giving you access to vital company resources and introducing you to high-level executives).

If you get really frustrated, try the “implied consent” tactic: Send messages in which you state that you’ll consider a lack of a response as a “yes.” (For example, write, “If I don’t hear from you by Feb. 1, I’ll begin implementing Step 1 of the plan described below.”)

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