Who’s in charge here?
  • sales
  • Blog post

Who’s in charge here?

I was a newly hired executive. The department secretary, Marlyn, had been working at the company since before I was born.

It only took a few days before I found out – the hard way – who was in charge. I’d taken it upon myself to mail out some press releases. When Marlyn found out, she busted me.

First, she icily informed me that it was her job to send out the mail. Then she reported me to the head of the department. I had to apologize and promise never to touch the mail again.

Marlyn was, hands down, the best secretary who ever worked for me. Eventually, we got along fine – as long as I stuck to my job and let Marlyn do hers.

Part of her job was to answer the phones. We were working in my office one day when the phone rang. I forgot myself and reached for it, but Marlyn was quicker. “Mr. Boyette’s office,” she said, staring me down with a don’t-even-try-it look. “This is Marlyn. May I help you?”

Now, I pity any hapless salesperson who ever tried to blow past Marlyn, or treat her with condescension or, God forbid, didn’t listen carefully and addressed her as “Marilyn.” They’d be done before they started. Anybody who wanted to sell to me had to sell themselves to Marlyn first.

Gatekeepers aren’t obstacles. They’re your customer too.

How about you? Have you ever run across a Marlyn? Share your stories in the Comments section!

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