Extenders:The new term for the gatekeepers of the office

I recently had the pleasure of serving as one of the MCs at the latest Q1 Productions Executive Leadership Support Forum at the Hotel Chicago. During a panel discussion with an executive and his assistant, he mentioned that assistants extend themselves in many ways. For example, helping clients and customers by either providing a service directly or finding someone who can if it not within their power to help. This was a profound concept because for many years, administrative professionals have been regarded as the 'gatekeepers' of the office, implying that no one gets past them without proper clearance. With this new idea, everyone is given considerable attention until the task, inquiry, or problem is resolved.

Today, with the evolution of the administrative assistant due to the expansion of roles and job responsibilities, the term extender will do quite nicely. So, what exactly does an extender do differently from the gatekeeper?

  • Extending skills. Performing job tasks that are not in your current job description.
  • Extending knowledge base. Using internal and external resources to find solutions. 
  • Extending a hand. Helping a colleague accomplish a goal and complete a task. 
Many of you have already been acting as extenders and didn't realize it. Being an Extender means making connections inside and ouside the organization; to eliminate confusion, the Extender still has the subtitle of gatekeeper. Performing additional job duties are valuable points to bring up during the performance review. Adding someone to your extended network will pave the way for forging strong alliances. Lending a hand to a colleague will bridge workplace relationships that increase the productivity of the company. 

Extenders, as well as gatekeepers, are valuable company assets. 

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