The Impact of Human Relations Skill on the Effectiveness of the Office Manager

THE IMPACT OF HUMAN RELATIONS SKILL ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE OFFICE MANAGER

The purpose of this research study was to study the impact of human relation skill on the effectiveness of the office managers.  Therefore, a review of related literature on management was done.  The review has been organized into the following sections:

2.1     MANAGEMENT AND ITS FUNCTIONS

Management is a popular term which means different things to different people.  According to E. F. L. Brech (1995) management is a social process entailing responsibilities for an effective planning and regulations of operation of an enterprise in fulfillment of a given purpose or task.  Other understand it to be manipulation of finance especially when it concerns capital. 

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It can also be taken to mean the body of man and woman who are responsible for running the affairs of the firms.  Heresy and Blanchard (1997:3) defined it as working and through individuals and groups to accomplish organisation, organizational goal.  Appleby (1998) also defined it as a “process by which scarce resources are combined to achieve given ends”.

From the above definitions it can be deduced that management is a continuous process.  The basic managerial functions consist mainly of planning, organizing, directing, controlling, and co-ordinating.  The manager plans what the organisation would achieve and how to achieve them, then he would organize the resources, people, capital, equipment, information etc.

In organizing the resources, he delegates responsibility to his subordinates and direct them on how to do it.  Not only does he direct, he equally co-ordinates different units to operate as a unified whole for the achievement of objectives.  After these  he compares the results with what had been planned to determine the extent of achievement the organisation has made.

 

2.2     EVOLUTION OF MANAGEMENT THEORY

According to Quible (1997:7-10) and Hersey and Blanchard (1997:90-91) what people today call modern management goes through many stages.

The stage of scientific management evolved in the 1900’s stemming from the work of Charles Babbage in the 1830’s who is considered by many to have been the forerunner of this stage.   Considerable amount of emphasis was placed on increase of production by the  use of time and motion studies.  This view was criticized as being detrimental to the psychological needs of the workers.

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This gave rise to administration stage, which focused, on the firm as a total entity.  The managerial process of this stage was though to consist of planning, organising, directing, co-ordinating and controlling.

Later, human relation’s movement was evolved.  This movement focused on treating employees as humans and not as production machine.  The relationship between the superior and subordinates was stressed particularly in terms of inter-personal relations and communications.  The advocates strongly believed that treating humans as humans has a greater effect on operating efficiency and output than do any of the technical factors.

Also Read: Human Resources Management In Commercial Banks

Some people who received their formal education during the time of the human relation movement were influenced to move for modern management by the manner in which decisions were made and how they ought to be made.

While scientific management emphasized only production and the finance that is for the maintenance.  The administrative management viewed the firm as a whole.  It brought about division of labour so that other elements in the organisation such as human elements would also be given attention.  As a result other areas of  management evolved, marketing was introduced in order to dispose off goods, as the quantity produced was becoming greater than quantity demanded.  The personnel management was introduced to carter for the welfare of all the workers in the organisation and to improve their condition of work.  The organisation needed to keep record as paper works increased so as to process information that would be useful for decision making when needed.  All these and many others activities necessitated the information of another function known as office management.

2.3     OFFICE MANAGEMENT

The rapid growth of information processing in organisation is increasing the number of career opportunities in office management.  Along with the variety of work performed the scope of work covered ad well as office management authors while some call it office management, others call it office administration.

Mills and Standinford defined office management as “that branch of management which is concerned with the services of obtaining recording and analyzing information, of planning and of communicating by means of which the management of a business safeguards it assets promotes its affairs and achieve its objective.  Apart from the general managerial functions of planning, organizing, co-ordinating, controlling motivating etc.  Office management has some other functions that are unique to it.

Quibble (1997:13) opened that administrative office management activities support individual in the organisation by freeing them of the responsibility of such activities, for example by office manager taking the responsibility of maintaining the records management programme, other individual have more time to perform their designated duties.

Osuala (1994:8) said administrative office management provide individuals with accurate information and data in the form in which they would be requested.  He added that their functions were helping individuals in the various units of the organisation to achieve their objectives effectively as well as making the organisation’s environment physically and mentally attractive and a pleasant place to work.

2.4     THE OFFICE MANAGER

Appleby (1998) explained that there is often one person in charge of central general office.  Who is responsible for the provision of clerical special skill is economical use of office machines, planning and co-ordinating of office procedures and knowledge of results oriented techniques.  Such person is called office manager.  To be successful as an office manager, certain minimum educational requirements are needed, coupled with appropriate work experience.  Professionalism is also important.  However, the most desirable qualification is human relation’s skill.

In terms of educational preparation, office management being primarily a service function designed to help all other units to achieve their objectives and the organizational goals.  An office manager should not only be knowledgeable in general management, but should also have a solid education in all functional areas of management particularly in accounting, marketing and personnel.  In addition, he needs to have a specialized knowledge of the following recordings, management form design, electronic data processing, job evaluation, office layout, office equipment performance appraisal and also employee selection and the likes.

The office manager can become more professional by being active member of professional organisations such as Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Nigeria Institute of Marketer, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administration (ICSA), Nigeria Association of Business Education (NABE) more so, an office manager must have the desire to continue to learn and to develop by participating in seminars and conferences.  An important personal quality that an office manager needs to have is adequate leadership ability in making effective decision by showing good example.  He should be tactful, punctual, pleasant and have a sense of fair play and an understanding of human nature.

 

2.5     EFFECT OF HUMAN RELATION

Quible (1997:15) believed that the position of the administrative office manager is very broad and this role is becoming more challenging because of rapid advancement in technology, new equipment and work process unlike before when it was a mere supervision of office employees.

The office manager usually assigns duties and make sure that all employees perform their jobs properly.  Some office manager have the responsibility of recruiting and training new employees.  They often have to deal with problems that arise.  Some employees are absent to often, cannot get along with other workers.

In addition, Pasewark and Oliverio (1998) believes that “in general, managers of office services are responsible for maintaining an accurate and prompt flow of information throughout the organisation and without siders who are customers, suppliers and clients.  From above discussion, it could be concluded that an office manager is not only a supervisor or office workers (personnel), but also information managers, record maintenance manager as well as an office environmental manager.

The term human relations applies broadly to the interaction of people in all types of endavour.  Much of the interactions is in work organisation when the engine of business organisation as portrayed by the assertion Arora (1999) that office management is the function that moves the wheel of business efficiently.

2.6     PERSONNEL MANAGER

Office managers must possess human relations in giving leadership to individuals and groups.  I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun says D Rockfeller one of the greatest entrepreneurs as conducted in Gozda lies in his ability to bring out the best from others and this is achieved through interaction between him and them.  This interaction should be initiated by him mainly because his subordinates will see him as inferior to the managers and so will not have courage to initiate it.  Also, the office manager is the physiology of office workers, he should therefore know and encourage conditions necessary for a change to occur.

Gozda et al (1999) when talking about helper and helpee, said of the helper that “he must control his own behaviour and create an atmosphere of security and trust”.  An office manager in this instance is the helper while the other workers are the helpee.

Lack of effective communication, according to Osuala (1998) is one of the major causes of human relation’s problem.  A good communication enhances human relation in the office workers and is afforded the opportunity to interact effectively with the office manager in a free flow of communicating their problems without fear of retribution.  Also effective listening habits are important in the office.  Communication between the office manager and the office employees can preferable be accomplished by face to face contract rather than a written method.

Recognition of informal groups is also very important.  Good interaction among the office workers may breed informal groupings in the organisation, which if recognized and well manipulated, can help in the betterment of the organisation.

Information grouping would tend to be destructive and rebellious to the organisation only when the organizational climate is not conducive to the workers as a result of poor management owing to lack of human relations skill on the part of the office manager.  The office manager rather than attempting to break such groups should choose the group leader with whom he would be discussing their problems.  To effect good communication channels through which the organisation and the group would understand each other better.  This will make them feel that they are part of the management and will in turn enhance the organizational administration.  Ant attempt to break the groups may meet with resistance thereby resulting in disintegration, defensive behaviour, communication barrier and break down.  Thereby exposing greatly the incompetence of the office manager.

2.7     INFORMATION MANAGER

Many business organisation have developed information management which serves the whole department in the organisation especially where there is a central control system.  Mills and Standinford (1997) said that “the office gives out information from its records.  The office manager being in charge of the office, records the information.  Information is needed by managers to assist them in making decision.  For example, the production managers needs information on how people rates the quality of a product.  The office manager is in the position to give it to them based on what he is able to extract from the customer.

2.8     RECORD MANAGER

Since the smooth functioning of an organisation is greatly dependent upon the efficient utilization of information and resources, record.  Management is rapidly becoming a crucial but strategic area in many organisation.  The need for efficient management of records is necessitated by the rapid increase of operating costs.  Records kept includes forms, letters, memoranda, reports and manuals. It is essential that an office manager should keep adequate records in order to always give correct information.

 

2.9     OFFICE ENVIRONMENT MANAGER

The desired valve of human relation skill to an organisation as often expressed in the achievement of major efficient organizational environment.  The work environment must be made comfortable for those who work in it.  According to Quible (1997) social scientists conducted a research to identify factors that have effects on employees performance.  They found that poor office environment often results in decreased level of production and employees moral.

The following are some of the good human relations skill suggested by Wood and Sanders (1991).

Empathy – Ability to sense how other people are feeling to understand what make them what they are.  Since the office manager is working with people, he must be able to get along well with every office caller and every co-workers.

Thoughtfulness – The office manager must have a genuine concern for other people because he would sense and know when one  has a real concern for them and they respond with friendliness and respect.

Tact – Apart from being thoughtful, the office manager needs to be tactful in order to be able to smoothen difficult situation.  Tact is the ability to overlook unacceptable behaviour in someone and skill make that person feel accepted.

Good judgment – as the office manager deals with people in day to day work, he must endeavour to display mature adjustments because there will be many occasions when he will be required to make important decisions within the realm of the company policy.  But there are times when even strict company policy may be “bent” for the good of all concerned.

Objectivity – with objectivity, the office manager recognizes what is crucial and what is not.  Sense of human relation skill helps to be objective because humour makes human relations more enjoyable.

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