The Prospects of Secretaries in Office Administration and Management

The Prospects of Secretaries in Office Administration and Management

This chapter deals with the review of related literature. To enable an indept appreciation of the study the literature review shall be treated under the following sub headings.

1.       Types of secretaries

2.       The role of secretaries

3.       Secretaries duties and characteristics

4.       Problems of secretaries

5        Prospects of secretaries

6        Summary of related literature review


Edun, (1986) Azuka (1990) and  may (1990) respectively agree that there are different types of secretaries: these whose duties generally  centers on management and formulation of policies such as the uno secretary general, common wealth secretary general, secretary to the (SS as). They explained that despite the job litle, a company secretary does not do secretaries  work but is responsible for ensuring that the firm complies with its legal obligations, we deals with the works of the company.

On the other hand, there are those whose primary functions are secretaries. Their secondary functions include office administration and management, supervision of junior office workers etc, prior to the civil service reform of 1988, these calibre of secretaries were referred to a “confidential secretaries”. After the reorganization, they were redesigned as “ secretarial assistants” in line with the general poor- perception which does not have officer cadre in the civil service reformation of 1988, Decree 43.


The secretary plays a very significant role in the life of any organization such that the or she is looked upon as the pivot upon which office administration and management information is processed, preserved or delivered for management decisions as and when required.

Oladunjoye G.T. and Nwaokolo P. O. (1992), in recognition of the role of secretaries they have been called by many names: the mirror of the office” the gate keeper of the office”

and the life wire of the office” 1.

Moreover, Aniagolu (1976) on  his part help that “the duties of a secretary very with size and native of company and the terms of arrangement made with them.2 apart from certain statutory duties, law does not fix the duties of a secretary of an organization. But the evidence on records shows that the secretary had arrogated to himself so much of the functions pertaining to the organization that the is not only acting as the secretary, but also as the chartered accountant. The above assertion was confirmed by one top executive who testified that  the best thing that ever happened to him was having a secretary who wanted to work for a chairman in that the secretary had a tremendous impact on his effectiveness (Wirtson 1983) 3

Further more, a good secretary can be as important to a company as a good manager (Coleman, 1983) 4 the professional ethics 04 secretarial profession and self development such that the sectary could reason or think at the same frequency with the boss for effective results .

According to powell (1975) the two members of boss/ secretary team should have a similar rate of thinking and tempo of working otherwise; it could be difficult to achieve a really good working relationship.5

The proper understanding of support role of secretaries to management should, there fore not portray the secretary as an inferior character in the management team. He or she is a professional just as the executive.

Each takes his or her place and recognizes their dependence on one another for effective result just as Smith (1975) asserted “the boss and I work as a team, but he is still the bodss.6 I anticipate his needs but don’t try to be one stepahead of him.

If I am, I don’t let him know” thus, the ethics of the profession demands that the secretary should take his or her place. Conversely, they to be progressive and effective, and therefore should acknowledge the professionalism of the secretarial profession and to relate with the secretary on partnership basis, rather than on master slave or superior- inferior relationship.


Foster (1991) reiterates that above every thing else, an efficient secretary has to be a good organizer, she needs to be able to get her own priorities right, and to plan for her employers day so that he or she puts his or her own time to the best use. In addition to this, the ability to get 0on with people is a great asset, especially when the supervision of other staff is part of the jos.7

Oladunjoye Nwaokolo (1992) adduced that ideally (professionally) secretaries are experts in public relations, assisting staff, and being the bosses office memory. Competent secretaries keep their bosses informed about development that will affect the efficiency of the office. They make sure that they do not bother their bosses with petty problems that they themselves can handle with a little through or research.

The Dictionary of occupational titles summarizes the duties of a secretary as follows

-Takes dictation using shorthand or stenotype machine.

– Transcribes dictation or the recorded information.

– Handles personal and important mail.

– Writing routine correspondence on her own initiative.

– May supervise other clerical workers.

It should however, be noted that the duties of a secretary vary from organization  to organization. Azuka (1990) noted that a careful analysis of secretarial positions reveals that no two secretarial positions are exactly alike. He said that there  are  factors, which determine the dustier of a secretary, which include.8

– The size of the business or organization

– The nature of the business or organization

– The status of the secretary immediate boss.

Oladunjoye et al (1992) states that ideally, the qualities of a good secretary may be classified under two categories.


Ii        BUSINESS

The personal qualities include being intelligent, responsible, well mannered, courteous pleasant, mature and understanding.

While in business it includes being effective, reliable organized, punctual, corchal skilled, tactful, and warm-minded.

Azuka (1990) and foster (1990) respectively agreed that the personal qualities of a secretary include a good personality intuitiveness, prudence, self control, sympathy for others, neatness in work and reliability.

Edun, et al (1986) asserts that the duties of the secretary are many varied and exciting.

Fries (1994) opined that most secretaries perform many of the tasks that stenographers perform but are given additional responsibilities that require greater ability to make judgements and exercise initiative. As a matter of fact, this is the demarcation between the secretary’s duties and those of duties and those of typists and stenographers.

Holmes (1987) asserts that the current perception of the duties of the secretary is greatly opposed to the old  fashioned  perspectives where by there is clear distinction between managerial and secretarial role; high less career progression from one to the other; high level of formality in dress and forms of address and relationship with superiors in the organization; emphasis on perfecting practical skills’ ’pendent upon instructions form above; and regarded as a more decorative or status  symbol by the boss.

Against the above old perception of what secretaries do; they assert the current perspective of the duties indicate that there is a blurring of line between the secretarial and management roles; opportunities for the secretary to more into management /administrative job; part of team/support function more freedom in dress; degree of informality in   relationships; more secretaries in partner ship with bosses, joint agreement on division of work; delegation, use of initiate, valid and responsible role.

Efficiency and creativity should be their trade mark. They should be flexible in adjusting to changing situation, and recognize the importance of meeting deadlines. Competent s secretaries keep their bosses informed about development that will affect the efficiency of the office. They make sure that they do not bother their bosses with petty problems that they themselves can handle with a little thought or research.

On their own part stanwell and shaw (1978) view a secretary as any staff who is concerned with the preparation, preservation, and transmission of all types of communication as well as conventional secretarial duties of confidential nature at various levels.


In a seminar organized for secretaries by the resource development center, department of Business administration, federal polytechnic, Nekede, owerri, in September, 1994, the participants, during one of the sessions, were asked to share their experiences in their places of work; their experiences were nothing to write home about: frustration, exploitation, marginalization, over laboured, yet ill- compensated; lack of facilities including  vehicles to convey them home after working far into the night etc. one of the participants complained bitterly that he had been made to sleep in the office on several occasions after working far  into the night and being abandoned by the boss who joined his official vehicle without regards of concerns as how his secretary would get home. The co-ordinactor of the session, Mrs. C. N. Njoku appealed to the secretaries to accept those experience as in line with the nature of the profession. She however advises them that they should read to improve themselves to become managers and thus help secretaries working under them by relating very well with them. This advise goes to confirm why many secretaries use  the  profession as a stepping stone to other ones, such as management. (winston 1983).

Pringles is saying that secretaries are classified  as being in bracket with management even though they are being paid like management   quoted  pam as secretary.  You were expected to work the same hours with the management.

You were expected to work the same hours with the managing director but you were on these shit wages. I would see all these other company staff who  has company cars and hopes of promotion and these was I in a dead  end job and expected to feel grateful. It was put over to you all the time that you were in this position but it was dreadful. This is a realistic assessment of what secretarial work is and could be.


Secretaries occupy a very important place in economy. The job market for secretaries is the most reliable of all office positions, and sectaries are in demand every where. A cursory glimpse at job adverts in the daily papers in this country will confirm this statement (Oladunjoye and Nwaokolo 1992).

Segun (ND) asserts that secretaries are occupationally mobile and the training of secretaries  is tailored to meet the  demand of any establishment or organization. In other words, a well trained and competent secretary can adequately cope with the working situation in any organization. For example, secretaries are engaged in public and private office accounting, engineering even in societies. Most young men and women have now realized the good prospects of taking to secretaries professions, and like the other areas of specialization such as accounting, medicine etc, the sky is the limit for those who want to make a career in secretary ship.

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The Prospects of Secretaries in Office Administration and Management

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