So you’re an admin or executive assistant and you want to be a great one. However, if you’re not a ninja-level gatekeeper, you’ll never hit your goal. Great gatekeepers are experts at managing flow. They are more about filtering out the noise than blocking people, and they do it all to ensure their bosses receive all necessary information and communication while still having plenty of time to accomplish their workloads.
To be the best gatekeeper you can be, make sure you’re doing the following key things.
You look and act the part.
To be a real rockstar gatekeeper, you have to first be a rockstar assistant. You must do all parts of your job competently, calmly, and efficiently. You must be an A+ communicator both verbally and over email. Be pleasant but firm. Dress the part. Command authority without going on a power trip. You have to be able to seamlessly manage your and your boss’s time by dealing with distractions. Being the best involves knowing your job, your boss’ job, and your industry inside and out.
You demand respect.
It’s probably a given that your boss is expected to receive a certain degree of respect, but you have some coming to you as well. If anyone isn’t properly respectful of both your boss’ time and your time, then it’s appropriate for you to deny him or her access until you both start receiving the consideration you both deserve. If people are rude and dismissive of you and your position, any good boss would be fine with you denying them access—especially if they want a favor.
You read minds.
Reading minds may seem like a magic trick, but it’s actually an achievable skill when it comes to gatekeeping. It basically involves figuring out what anyone trying to schedule a phone call or meeting with your boss is after. What is their motive? What do they need to discuss? Is it something that really requires a meeting or your boss’s time? If not, and you can get them what they want or need through other channels, it will limit the strain on your boss’s brain and schedule. The more time you put into your job, the better you will get at sniffing out what people really want when they ask for a few minutes of your boss’s time. One you recognize patterns, you can ask directly: “Is what you really want time sensitive? Tell me why, but if not, then I will have to schedule you when my boss is not in a crunch time.”
You use discretion.
According to a survey performed by Staples, administrative assistants are the most trusted members of any office. Always remain among the trustworthy by keeping your head high while wading through office politics without getting bogged down by gossip or distractions. Be comfortable and clear when handling confidential information. Be reliable. Be a vault. Cultivate and exercise unimpeachable good judgment.
You establish a system with your boss.
You and your boss need to function like a dynamic duo to make both of your work lives run smoother. Perhaps you two can develop a secret signal she can give you when someone is monopolizing her time. Or maybe you can color-code your online calendar: red meetings are crucial and yellow meetings aren’t time-sensitive and can be rescheduled as needed. Work together so you can become her ideal gatekeeper: keeping out the unnecessary and letting in the crucial.
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