Your boss’s time is valuable and should not be wasted. Business and sales professionals, coworkers, and community members are becoming increasingly clever as they attempt to learn ways around the administrative professional so they can connect directly with the decision maker. Over the years, I have learned, tried, and perfected many strategies that administrative professionals can use in their role as “gatekeeper.” The “gatekeeper” is the person who has the responsibility and full authority to oversee access to the decision maker. Here are a few strategies I have used while serving in my role as “gatekeeper” to the CEO:
- Access to the CEO’s office can only be gained by walking through my office. So, no one can enter the CEO’s office nor can the CEO leave his/her office without walking by me first. This has strategically helped me to stop individuals from entering the CEO’s office when I know he/she is not there or is tied up and busy with a meeting, on a call, or preparing for a future meeting.
- I’ve learned to push back by asking questions of those seeking the decision maker’s time. May I help you? Is there something I can help you with? If I own these requests verses hold up these requests, I can help business to move more efficiently. I have learned that I can assist with most of the questions, complaints, or requests coming in to the CEO if I simply ask the right questions.
- The CEO and I thoughtfully plan and discuss the priorities for the week. This discussion helps me to assist him/her in meeting those priorities.
- I have full access to the CEO’s calendar on my desk computer, my laptop, and my cell phone.
- I have full access to the CEO’s email on my desk computer, my laptop, and my cell phone.
- The CEO and I have created signals that are initiated when someone is monopolizing his/her time. At that moment, I know to politely interrupt and help end the conversation.
- Administrative professionals can help to train their CEOs to direct and redirect (if necessary) people requesting their time to talk with the “gatekeeper” or administrative professional. I have found that CEOs who redirect requests of their time to their “gatekeepers” have fewer interruptions throughout the day.
- The CEO and I have worked together to be a united team (partnership). The more time I can be involved and spend with the CEO, the more help I can be throughout the day and during his/her planned absences.
- Everyone should feel that the CEO is accessible and available. However, I have often times needed to be tactful in my responses to individuals when time is being requested of the CEO.
- Treat people with kindness and offer to help. You are an extension of your boss and in my case the CEO. I want everyone to have a pleasant experience interacting with the CEO’s office and to know that we are working hard to meet their requests in a timely manner.
I have always enjoyed my role as “gatekeeper.” It’s been fun. I have met many people face to face, over the phone, via email, and online. My advice to administrative professionals is to own the role of “gatekeeper” and make your presence known.