Gatekeepers, usually so poised under pressure, have human needs just as the rest of us do. Generally they are the Type B enablers of Type A driven bosses. Gatekeepers receive more than their share of annoyance from above.
When you are dealing with a gatekeeper, you would do well to remember the following.
- When you phone a gatekeeper, always ask if this is a good time to talk. You’ll find 50 percent of the time it isn’t because he or she is either waiting for the boss or a priority call to come in.
- Avoid calling at high-demand times. Monday mornings, for example, are generally poor window to reach offices dedicated to high performance.
- Listen. A gatekeeper can be your best source of information on a manager’s decision-making habits and preferences. The gatekeeper may also give you important scheduling and availability information on the manager just in passing conversation. Don’t overlook it.
- Be specific in identifying yourself and your purpose in calls and e-mails. These beleaguered folk have tons of information swimming across their desks. Be precise in identifying why you are calling. If it relates to a particular document, call it up on your computer before you make the call.
- Learn who the gatekeeper’s backup is. Generally there is one, and this person often plays an important role in absorbing overflow work. I can’t tell you how key this ofter overlooked tactic is.
I have much more career advice and job hunting tips in my book “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door”