The Contribution of Secretaries Towards the Achievement of Organizational Goals

The Contribution of Secretaries Towards the Achievement of Organizational Goals

The essence of literature review is to show and examine the extent of work already done in the field of the study and its related filed which will definitely establish some ground for correct research. To be able to find out the contribution of secretaries towards the national economic development, a number of books, journals, magazines and other available relevant materials were reviewed in the following other

  • Definition of secretary
  • Types of roles of secretary in an organization
  • Qualification, qualities and training of efficient secretary in an organozation
  • The secretaries in modern times
  • Problems encpuntered by secretaries
  • Salary structure – its impact on secretaries
  • The need for manpower development in secretarial administration
  • Secretaries and the use of modern office equipment
  • Secretaries and human relations
  • Secretaries and job satisfaction


The word secretary is derived from latin word “SECRETIUS” meaning something known only to one or few persons and kept secret or hidden from the view or knowledge of others.

A secretary has been defined by the National Association of Secretaries, United states of America, as an “executive Assistant who posses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrate and assumes responsibility without direct supervision, who exercise initiatives, good sense of judgment and makes decision with the scope of assigned authority.

However, office skill include, Typewriting, shorthand, ability to operate photocopying machine and duplication machine

(Horuby 1974) defined a secretary as an employee in an office who deals with correspondence, keeps records, makes arrangement and appointment for a particular member of the staff usually known as his or her boss.

According to Austin (1980) a secretary is known as a person who has acquired the basic secretarial skills of shorthand and typewriting including enough practical experience in office, being able to cope with filing, simple office and reception duties. From the above definitions, secretaries must get all the skills associated with office and cannot leave responsibilities even though he or she initiates and takes decision under his assigned authority.


          The various types of secretaries are classified as follows


This is a person employed to perform duties of personal or confidential nature. He or she also deals with correspondences and this involves taking down dictations and transcribing it on the typewriter.


In the government department or ministry, permanent secretaries act as the executive head of the ministry. They perform such functions as advising and assisting the minister or commissioner in the federal and state ministries respectively.

They are however, called director general now after civil service reforms embarked upon by the Babangida administration in 1988.


Show (1974) defines a company secretary as an important executive who is charged with supervising the legal implications of companies status and keeping registers of shareholders to assume the responsibilities of company secretaries.

Roman (1975) said that these categories of secretaries are senior members of the organization. They are usually knowledgeable in legal and accounting matters to the extent that they sometimes are members of the Board of d   Directors as valued advisers.


They are people employed by another ranging from the head of an institution, managers or an administrative officers for as the purpose of assisting in getting information of other confidential matters.


This is a term mostly used to describe secretaries who can speak and use tow international language, e.g. English and French. They are mainly employed by multi-National companies.


An analysis of secretaries position reveal that no two secretaries position are exactly alike. There are factors that determine the nature of secretarial position in various business.

They include

  1. The size of the business
  2. The nature of the business
  3. Willingness of the boss to delegate work and responsibilities.
  4. The willingness and ability of secretaries to assume responsibilities.

In essence, he performs the following

  1. Secretaries handle the day-to-today routine work. Eg. Correspondence, filing and indexing
  2. Taking dictation in shorthand and transcribing same accurately’
  • He/she organizes meeting and take down minutes of such meeting
  1. Secretaries lease between staff and top management
  2. Keeps the boss diary and arranges his appointments
  3. Keeps and maintain the confidential and secret files of the organization.
  • Supervises subordinates to ensure policy implementation, keeps financial reports and handle imprest account

Hanna, popham and Titon (1973) have described the secretary’s role in the office as that of public and human relations experts. For them, the secretary within the capacity of the office portrays a positive image of the employer to the public and generates good human relations in working with all employees in the organization. They also observed that the secretaries identifies with her daily business associated, those above her level, on her level, her subordinates and apply the best principles of human relation at each level.



Secretaries must have a good general education and must be proficient in shorthand, typewriting and posses a good knowledge of secretarial and office procedures. Harrison (1975) opined that secretaries should at least be holders of National Diploma (ND) in secretarial studies, Higher National Diploma (HND) in secretarial studies or B.Sc in Business Education or Humanities.

In addition of formal education and training successful secretaries should have a wide business experience and possible and should belong to the professional body or organization of his/her field. Also, a secretary must have interest in current affairs and good standard of general knowledge and proficient in English.


According to Onasanya (1990) in order to achieve an acceptable level of effectiveness, secretaries should posses the following personal and professional qualities.



This concerns daily bathing and brushing of teeth


secretaries must dress properly and not tattend, the make up ought to be moderate.


Secretaries ought to be very sound in health, since taking care of the office is not meant for someone who is always sick.


The secretary must polite and audible in speech and an offensive language or slang should be avoided.



Secretaries should cooperate with other workers in the organization and offer help when and where necessary. He or she should cooperate with them without losing self respect.


Secretaries should be loyal to the boss in the office. And should never disclose any of their boss secret to the out-siders.


A secretary must be well coordinated keeping in place all materials or documents relating to her duties in an orderly manner.


Secretaries should be patient while dealing with visitors and should not be hash at then and should always be tactful in dealing with people.


Secretaries should be trust worthy, reliable and dependable and should not disclose secret information to unauthorized person.


          He or she should be able to identify problems find solution to it and anticipate what has to be done and follow it up immediately.


Secretaries must be punctual in his or her office or work place. Again lateness being a social evil, should be automatically avoided by a secretary.


Apart from basic qualification and qualities of secretaries, they are expected to continue to learn and grow on their job. No age is tow advance for learning. Ironically, most secretaries who have just left school know little of nothing about office work and the challenges that go with it. Not much in learned is learned in our polytechnic or universities in this direction and most of such institutions do not make provision for office attachment in their curriculum for the training of secretaries. Worse still, some lecturers who teach secretarial courses in those institution lack the necessary exposure, knowledge and equipment to prepare their students for the ever increasing challenges of office life.

The secretaries play a special role in the office and this call for special training. The ever changing demands of the modern office environment and the introduction of complex office machine such as fax, computer, electronic typewriters, facsimile transceiver, E-Mail (internet) etc business organization pose a great threat to the office of the secretary. The skill and competence required to cope with the rapid and changing introductions have  multiplied along with the equipment. The paper work explosion and the resultant emphasis on computers have added new dimensions to the job of the secretary and related office personnel.

Secretaries education in today’s and tomorrow’s complex technology necessitated the fullest expansion of secretary’s knowledge and national ability in business related discipline without which this form of education will become merely training in technical skills. There is no reason a secretary cannot aspire for a higher position in management, law or even in diplomatic circles opportunities abound for further education for those willingly to continue. Workshops , seminars and symposia in related topics help a lot to sharpen the skill and enrich the ideas of secretaries.

There are also some problems which aspiring secretaries encountered in their training environment, which include late admission of student into the polytechnic, lack of modern equipments, shortage of relevant textbooks and materials, poorly equipped lecturers, vocation and frequent strike by either the students or lecturers.


Most polytechnic admit students up to one month to the commencement of the first semesters examination. Secretarial profession involves mastery of skill subjects like shorthand and typewriting and in some cases, a foreign language like French. A number of contract hours are expected to be covered within the semester before examination. A student which came late in the semester is always affected and find it difficult to meet up with those who started on time. In other words, he or she will develop hatred for the programme from the very first day he or she attends class because he or she did not start from the grass root with others.


Due to the non provision of adequate number of equipment and facilities, the non availability of certain vital or specialized equipment and supplies in some of the institutions. It is sad to note that secretarial administration programme in this country have existed for years and graduated set of students within the period without owning a single electronic typewriter, a photocopying machine, a duplicating machine not to talk of a scanning machine for cutting stencils, drawing and printed materials.

Inadequacy of equipment is extremely acute in the commercial and secondary schools where about 60 to 80 students will be making use of 30 typewriters, while about 40 typewriters will be available for students over hundred in number in our higher institutions of learning, for learning of typewriting.


Most secretarial text books used in educational institution in Nigeria are by foreign authors and this has made their cost to be high and often beyond the reach of the average students.


Some lecturers of secretarial courses in our polytechnics are poorly equipped professionally and lack the experience, exposure and skill to impact any qualitative knowledge in the profession to the students. Although some of them may posses sound academic qualification in the skill areas is very vital to impact the required knowledge. Worse still, most of them remain, most of them remain incompetent and not make any effort to reread themselves by attending shorthand classes, seminars, workshops or symposia in the profession. Such people cause more frustration to their trainees secretaries and in order to cover their inadequacies they pass the students half backed.


A good number of students find their way into the department of secretarial studies in our tertiary institutions do not have the necessary vocation for the profession. They merely use the department as a transit camp either because they did not obtain the relevant credits required for entry into their choice departments or that they merely wanted to be in higher institutions to boost their personal ego


Constant supervisors or shifting of the academic calendar affect learning and has greater effect on a programme that has to do with constant practice in the skill subjects. Long period of lag-off can frustrate a learner.



There is a great difference between the present day secretary and secretary of yester-years. In the past the relationship between a boss and his secretary was that of “Master and servant”. The secretary was regarded as a mere support staff, benefits of ideas and initiative and way only to be seen and not heard. All functions in the office were performed manually and the office environment retarded efficiency. Training opportunities were limited and advancement through secretarial cadre was not easy as it is today.

The present day secretary was advanced from the level of a mere support staff to the position of an indispensable arm of the chief executive. With the advancement in modern office technology, his work has become more pleasurable and less boring. Most office machines are automated and the improvement in the office environment also increases the satisfaction secretary derives from his or job. With the introduction of word processor or computer as vital secretarial tool, letter or other documents goes a long way to speak well of the image of the secretary. The use of such devices enhance the secretary’s efficiency.

The modern time secretary makes use of sophisticated office machines. Telephones is more efficient today than it was in past and with the introduction of international. Direct Dialing (100) which is an optional devices connected to most business telephone and the use of mobile phone has also made things more easier than before. Secretaries could transact business through the telephone with anybody in any part of the world without having to go through any local telephone company like NITEL and SATCOM

The modern secretary uses rapid copiers, improved model cyclostyling machines, business organizers etc. to perform her duties. He or she greater confidence of her boss and therefore offers useful advice that will enhance the quality of her job. He or she is more independent and has the privilege of being exposed to serious management ideas and decisions. He or she enjoys greater incentives due to their service training opportunities to which he or she is constantly exposed to which he or she has knowledge is up-dated to cope with the rapid development in office technology and the ever increasing demands of her office.


Inspite of all the contributions made by secretaries towards the National Economic Development, they are not given their right place in the organizations. Lack of adequate equipments which will enable them improve in their jobs effectively are also their constraints and they are not sent on course, relating to their jobs or to any seminars workshops or symposia as done to people in other professions. They suffer how social status arising from low acceptance in the society.

According to Okeke (1991) “The low regard for secretaries have been assumed by many to be never-do-well or drop-out who has no option than to learn how to write shorthand and type letters.

Worse still, inspite of the daily effort and contribution they make they are not properly remunerated. According to Okeke (1991) he said that “Inadequate rewards is an economic problem which secretaries have been battling with over the years”

Round (1978) said that secretaries should be paid well and when they work beyond a standard working day, they should be paid overtime. The establishment of this plan will assist in attracting them to the job.

Flippo (1980) in his view said that “As far as the organization is concerned there are need to upgrade the salaries of secretaries” He further said that this will attract capable secretaries to the organization, motivate them towards superior performance and retain their services over an extended period of time.

All these go a long way to say that secretaries are the most hardworking classes of employees and should be compensated for that.


It is known that salary is the reward which employees receives either fortnight or monthly and this effect the performance of workers despite other benefits.

  1. Mills and O. standingford (1978) said that the aim of salary structure are economy morale bossing and recognition of skill and effect. Individuals need to be able to develop potentialities so that they can do more responsible work and reap the rewards of their efforts

Salary based on the type of work done, grade and merit is perhaps the most practical method of giving these objectives.


The evolution of secretary-ship according to Button (1972) stated very early in the development of commercial and industrial organizations. The office of secretary emerged because it was inevitable that somebody should be made responsible for recoding and transaction of the daily activities of the organization.

Mac – Naghton (1902) maintained that the duties of a secretary were limited and of a somewhat humble character. These statements having been made before the 1948 Act, Britain made it mandatory for every company to have a secretary.

Functions of secretaries according to Shaw (1977) include the supervisor and training of Junior secretaries like typist, stenographers to mention but a few. The secretary should be able to recruit and assist in recruitment of junior staff, arrange meetings, prepare minutes and reports, deal with press, enquire and take primary care and not to disclose confidentially matters.

However, secretaries position have improved from what it was in the past. Sometimes in the past, secretaries are regarded as disposable employees who could be hired and fired at will because they are taken as mere servants. But, this enhanced role and status of secretaries was given credence in the present development. Time has changed when secretaries are not regarded as important in the organization.

Omotosho (1980) said that secretaries have increased in the manpower developments in all the organization.

The importance of secretaries cannot be over emphasized, bearing in mind that in business coordination, industries, educational institutions and government and private sectors, the people who ensures efficient and smooth running of the office are the secretaries. They are indeed the image makers of realizing the organizational objectives.

He also said that in business world and in the professional field that secretaries are an essential link to the daily activities of the company and links up the various arms of organization and outside world.

According to Fache (1979) the office is the nervous system of any organization where the routine activities of an organization are carried out e.g. receiving and giving information, recording and analyzing information and the safe guarding of records and assets.

However, the above duties need an efficient and good coordinator to carry them out and without the secretaries, the management of any organization would eventually be paralyzed

Mignini (1982) while appraising the dynamic and tasking position of secretaries in the office, remarked that the secretaries work is a carrier indeed.

According to her, highly skilled secretaries possessing organizational skill are assets and they are the one who have a general knowledge of all phases of the office and business procedures.

Finally, Austin (1972) opined that it will be noticed that while the functions of the various departments are totally different, some of the general duties of secretaries are identical no matter in what department he/she finds himself or herself.


Modern office technology is changing so rapidly that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the secretaries to perform effectively. With the advent of sophisticated modern office equipment, the jobs of secretaries becomes more technical, especially computerized to the extent that people fear that secretaries may be rendered redundant.

Olivero and Pasework (1977) stressed that the invention of modern machines have given a long way to eliminate repetitive handling of information but increase secretaries performance.

According to Ronald (1975) “New technology does not replace people, it mainly increases their skills and in the process opens new avenue for those who are able to meet its changes”

The advent of word processing once again added a new dimension to the secretarial profession

In his contribution James (1982) maintained that “The introduction of these machines have increased output generally and technological changes have speed up office operations.

It could be seen that the advent of office automation has not rendered the secretaries redundant but rather increased job opportunities to many people.


Your performance as a top flight assistance your happiness on the job will closely link to your ability to communicate and get along with people and this in turn will depend on your personality.

According to Jennings (1981) “To be an effective secretary you must be aware at all time that the person with whom you are dealing is forming an image of the organization or your boss or both, based on your business personality to communicate effectively with everyone with whom you come in contact within your business activities”. You cannot depend on knowledge and skills alone for success on your job, but on your boss’s counterparts and their assistance, your immediate co-worker and the entire organization.

In his opinion, Kusik (1985) said “as public relations representative, a secretary should first get to know her boss’s personality in effect, should become his alter ego, in this case, she can act on his behalf when necessary

A secretary deals with people everyday, therefore, a secretary should be courteous in his or her speech and in understanding people, that is why some course like psychology and Human relations is introduced in the curriculum of secretarial administration

Hanna, Pophem and Titon (1973) have described the secretary’s role in the office as that of public and human relation experts. More so, secretaries within the capacity of the office portray a positive image of the employer to the public and generates good human relations in working with all employees in the organization.


          According to Oxford Advance Learners Dictionary of current English (1976) satisfaction means “The state of being satisfied, or act of satisfying, feel “satisfied” at having ones ability?

The lexicon welbster Dictionary (1986) defines “Job” as a piece of work, especially an individual work done in the routine of ones occupation or trade as far fixed price, a piece of public or private business carried out with a view to improper private gain.

In his work, Taylor (1961) explained that workers should not be placed under simply job and should not be taken as machines, that is boring.

He maintained that bored workers often do things that were not in the interest of workers. He maintained that where there is job satisfaction, there is incompetence, lack of appreciation which will result ti unimproved conditions.


From the review made in this chapter, it was crystal clear that the roles of secretaries cannot be dispended with the sense that they have contributed a lot toward the national economic development and more especially at NEPA Enugu District office, the case study of this project.

The researcher in this chapter started with who secretaries are, their roles, classes, qualification, secretaries problems and constraints, secretaries and modern office equipment

It was reviewed that secretaries portray the image of the organization and their bosses to the public in general and that the advent not modern office equipment does not replace secretaries instead it increases their output and speed office operations.

So the contributions of secretaries in the organization towards the achievement of National goals cannot be dispensed with and apart from their basic qualifications they are expected to continue to learn and grow on her job.

There are also some constraints which secretaries encountered in the course of their training and for someone to become a professional secretary, he or she must posses personal or professional qualities that will enable him carry out the job.

Finally, the duties of a secretary will depend on the  nature and size of the organization and willingness of boss to delegate work to work and to work effectively, he has to generate good human relation in working with all employees in an organization.

However, the above duties need an efficient and good coordination to carry them out, and without the secretaries, the management of any organization would eventually be paralyzed.

Mignini (1982) while appraising the dynamic and tasking position of secretaries in the office, remarked that the secretarial work is indeed.

According to her, highly skilled secretaries possessing organizational skill are assets and they are the one who have a general knowledge of all phases of the office and the business procedures.

Finally, Austin (1972) opined that it will be noticed that while the functions of the various department are totally different, some of the general duties of secretaries are identical no matter in what department he or she find herself or himself

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