Gatekeeping for Office Administrators


I believe that one of the most important people in any type of organization are the Office Administrators.  They do many tasks and experience great challenges. It seems that everyone in the workplace relies on them from the smallest detail to the most important ones. The workplace may be left in chaos if they are not around. What is even more amazing is that where there is chaos, it becomes their responsibility to bring back calmness in the situation. Office Administrators support a lot of people in the company and yet, very few truly understand what they do.

Administrative professionals play very essential roles in the company.  One of them is that of being a gatekeeper of information in the workplace.  They are expected to stay in control of the communication flow and manage all types of communication that come in and go out.  Office Administrators must know how to ascertain people’s needs, direct them to the right person while keeping her superior in the loop.  They are the ultimate gatekeepers for our offices.  

With such a big responsibility, the question now is how does one become an effective gatekeeper as an Administrative professional? An administrator receives a lot of inquiries on a daily basis.  Most of the time, people would come to the administrators when requesting to speak to heads or when they do not know who the right person is to talk to regarding their concerns. 

With the experiences that I’ve had as an administrator, which was actually my first job, I would like to share with you a few strategies that can help office administrators be effective while they perform their daily roles as gatekeepers.   

1. Analyse what the true issue is.

On numerous occasions, people would go to your office and tell you that they need to speak to your boss.  The first thing that you must do is to introduce yourself and inform them that you are your boss’ assistant and that you would be happy to assist them.  Ask a series of questions.  Listen attentively to find out what exactly is their concern.  Most of the time, you will find out that it is not your boss that they need to speak to. 

2. Gain people’s trust. 

Explain to people who come to your office that your boss expects you to know the important details of concerns before directing it to him.  In this way, you can give immediate assistance if there are issues that you can actually resolve at that instance.  Assure them that all information that you gather is treated with sensitivity and confidentiality.  If you think that the concern should be directed to a person other than your head, do not just transfer the individual, but rather, assist the individual in need to get hold of the right person.  Take the initiative to contact that right person and make sure that issues are addressed.

3. Let them know your next steps.

Be true to your words.  If you say that that you will get back to them at a certain time, make sure that you do it.  Consider using email correspondence.  This will provide a paper trail of the concerns and possible resolutions.  People may insist that you connect them to your boss immediately, do not give in without making an analysis of the issues.  Remember, one of your responsibilities as your boss’ assistant is to prioritize issues.

4. Provide your superior with complete information.

Determine what information regarding inquiries you should give to your boss.  You have to make sure that he is properly informed of the issues.  Provide your boss with the person’s information details.  Explain the nature of the situation.  If you handled it, how did you resolve the issue?  And update your boss of the current status.  Do it in any way you think is appropriate, but make sure that you keep documentation in you files.  It is very important that you keep your executive in the loop.

Knowing how to assist people in the company is a skill that administrative professionals should possess.  One should not be only efficient, but also effective.  You must be able to deliver your tasks properly. Remember your boss does not need to be approached for every little concern.  Administrators must learn to limit interruptions, minimize unnecessary interactions with the executive and maximize productivity.  By being effective as an administrative professional, you can develop a very good working relationship with your superior, thereby, ensuring a happier and more productive workplace.

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