Keeping Your Boss’s Time Under Lock and Key: Tips for Effective Gatekeeping

Keeping Your Boss’s Time Under Lock and Key: Tips for Effective Gatekeeping

It is our job as a PA to manage the boss’s time and eliminate all distractions. And as you know, some days this simple sounding task can be extremely difficult.

The role as official gatekeeper and EA extraordinaire could see you handling sales calls and other non-essential individuals. Or maybe there is the need to weed out the unnecessary information to eliminate time-wasting conversations.

Whatever the task – think savvy thoughts and don’t let others trick their way through to the boss.

Filter out the relevant information

Much of what goes on in the span of a day has no relevance reaching your manager’s ears. How well you know your boss, will determine how well of a job you do.

If you can address it yourself, then do so.

If it is important and needs to be handled by upper management, then put them through or take a message. When the boss is happy and less distracted, then everyone benefits.

Ask pertinent questions

There is only one way to get to the brunt of the subject, and that is to ask questions. Some won’t like it, others may even hang up – but that’s all part and parcel of your role.

  • Who referred you?
  • Why do you need this information?

Asking questions is the only true way to gauge the nature of the call and ascertain whether it can only be handled by your boss. In most cases you can deal with it yourself!

Saying no is part of the job

While being nice is part of your job and even smiling when you don’t feel like it, so is being tough and saying no to those trying to monopolise your time. Sales associates are the worst culprits, and they will try (and ultimately do) any trick in the book to speak to your boss. Stay strong and take a message but never let them pass.

Dealing with difficult people

You have the authority to not let people past, despite what others may think. Saying no can offend some people and there is not much you can do about it. These tips will help you to when saying no can be hard.

  • Stick to your guns and remain assertive.
  • Do not waver from your intentions.
  • State the situation as best as you can and always remain respectful and devoid of sarcasm.
  • Don’t sink to the level of others if they lower the tone of the conversation.
  • Take a message and move on.

Recognise the tricks at play

If you Google the term “gatekeeper” you will see that there are hundreds of articles on how to get past the gatekeeper. Read these over during your quiet moments and familiarise yourself. These tricksters will stop at nothing to get five minutes of your boss’s time and this, you cannot allow. Tips to look out for include using over-familiarity, not elaborating on why they are calling or claiming they have important news that affects the manager.

Donning the cape of gatekeeper is a challenging, yet surprisingly rewarding, part of a PA’s role. Do it well and your efforts will undoubtedly get noticed.

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