The Role of Effective Communication in the Performance and Productivity of a Secretary

The Role of Effective Communication in the Performance and Productivity of a Secretary (A Case Study Of Enugu State Ministry Of Finance)

In this chapter, the researcher will make an attempt to look at the works of various authors and authorities on the subject matter of this project. So that she will have an in-depth knowledge to enable her achieve the objective of the study. “A chameleon of a word changing the color of its meaning with a change of a speaker more than most”

for instance the military historian thinks of an army’s lines of communication, the sociologist of newspapers and broadcasting thinks of their, civil engineer thinks of road of railway, the secretary thinks of words, letters, people equipment and papers.

She thinks of a common elements in these varied meanings, the idea of connection between people. In other words message passing in an wider sense, refers to the act of messages passing the channel along with the message passed on to the message itself.


This is the process of transmitting and understanding information between tow or more people.  Or the process by which information is passed between individuals or organizations by means of previously agreed symbols. It always involves at least two parties sender and receiver.

Joseph et al in their word modular programme for supervisory development Vol. II (1983) defined communication as the sharing of information, knowledge between tow or more individuals.

Molokwu defined communication as “the means by which an organization exchange information regarding the operation of an enterprises”

Agbo (2003) defined communication as “The process by which information is passed between individuals or organization through accepted system of signs, symbols, words or behavior and through well defined medium or channel of communication.

He further stated that communication should be confined to the area of meaning a system of channels which permits communication to take place in an institution or geographical area. That is to say that communication refers to how the message gets there. This may be a matter of roads, railways, civil air routes posts, telegraphs, internal telephones etc. on a general note, little saw the ability to communicate with others as an essential attributes of human life and all of us grappling with communication tasks most of the time we are awake. Specifically, this is true of the secretary, she slopes communication only when she is alone, of course not in the office. To the secretary communication is always at work. The question cab only be

  1. What should be communicated or what should she communicate
  2. To whom should she communicate with
  3. How does she communicate most effectively

Harold define communication as “The transfer of information from the sender to the receiver with the information being understood by the receiver”. The researcher shall settle on the definition because it contains the necessary basis elements of the effective communication

Sending                Encoding                        Transmission

Receiving              Decoding                        Understanding


The life of a secretary is just a matter of communication, she depends on it for her very existence for without communication there is no work for the secretary.


This can be defined as :Transmission of message or information from one person to the other, using agreed symbols and appropriate channels and the message transmitted being understood and consequently a feedback or a response will be initiated”

Nwachukwu on his work, said that effective communication is a vehicle for the transmission of polices, plans, procedures, strategies and the goals to the different levels at the organization. In other words, it is the process by which ideas, feeling and images of a person or organization are made known to another. He went on to say that effective communication requires the existence of favorable climate that promotes the exchange of ideas.

But then, looking at Nwachukwu view, he agree in principle and practice that a secretary as one who maintains high standard of confidentiality and a repository of information by all means needs communication for effective execution or performance of her duties.

Furthermore, Nwachukwu calls on management to see effective communication as one of the most important functions of management. In other words, he calls on the secretary to see communication as his most important function, this is because effective communication assets or stock in trade and vehicle for discharge of his numerous functions, she must give accurate and complete information. Anything short of this is demoralizing and of course an insult to her intelligence, her organization and her client.

Move rover, Nwachukwu opined that effective communication promotes good employees, management relationship, improve attitude, increase job satisfaction and motivation bringing an increase in productivity. In a real sense, effective communication promotes good customer, organization relationship, improve attitudes and increase business dealings and satisfaction and in a way, ensuing high productivity.


          It has been the belief of people that anybody or employee who sits behind the typewriter is a secretary. This is not true of who secretary is. Therefore to make this project more understandable and appreciating it is the duty of the researcher to tell who a secretary is.

A secretary may be defined as the communication center of any organization. She is the administrative center of an organization. She is the vehicle for interaction and the image maker for any organization.

Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of current English (1984) defined a secretary “as one who deals with correspondence and keeps records, makes arrangement and appointment for a particular or other organization.”

Elanor (1980) defined a secretary as “someone who, without direct responsibility assists another with communication and public relation in business, professional and personal affairs”

The definition suggest that not all who bear the title “secretary” or who performs some aspects of secretarial work confirm to this definition, but those who know how to locate information and assist with research, how to write many types of business communications, how to use their languages and styles, how to behave like diplomats, politicians and confidential advisers

A secretary is an important officer in any establishment or organization. The contribution and effectiveness of a secretary can either enhance or diminish the efficiency of an organization.


  1. Serve as an action vehicle: Action can only be initiated and executed when that was communicated is interpreted accurately. Effective communication is therefore a vehicle through which management, put into action, company policies and programmes. For the secretary he acts when an understanding of that was communicated has been clearly understood.
  2. Vehicle for execution and discharge: It is one thing to know what to do and quite a different thing to put into action what is supposed to be done. Effective communication performs the functions of making sure that action takes place.
  • Development and improvement: In every man or woman lies an undeveloped potential acquired or endowed by nature. It is through communication that development or improvement will be ensured. Effective communication enable the secretary to update his knowledge with the latest innovation in technology that will help him perform.
  1. Education and enlightenment: This saying that half-education is dangerous is very true in the communication world. In effective communication can be very devastating. Effective communication educates and enlightens. The secretary as information executor will be at his best when he is properly guided. This is also the function of effective communication.
  2. Vehicle for change: We live in a changing world. The entire universe and all that are in it are in a state of flux. The only thing that remain permanent is change. Likewise organization and methods thrives with changes. This means that the operations of the secretarial professions will be better of when the culture of changes is imbibed. This also is the world of effective communication.


There are basically two types of communication and these are verbal or oral communication.

  1. Verbal or Oral communication: This includes all forms of communication that bring about face to face and ear to ear contact between the communicator and communicate. The spoken words serves as vehicle for transmission of messages or information.
  2. Written communication: This refers to the translation of oral message to alphabetic symbols. Written communication can be used in personal and business letters in issuing and answering queries, in reports, memos and circulars, in essays and creative written in drawing up proposals as well as designing questionnaires etc.


  1. Formal communication:- This has approved or established channels through the introduction of formal systems, authority and responsibility. It may take any of the following forms.
  2. Downward communication structure:– Order and commands originated from the upper echelon of the organizational hierarchy and descends gradually down like company programmes and policies are made known through this form of communication.
  • Lateral communication structure:– This is usually used by coordinators in the same level of authority from different departments in an organization. For instance the production manager may like to know from the sales mangers, the movement of goods to avoid over and under production.
  1. Diagonal communication structure: This is normally takes place between line and staff and sometimes in project type organizations. It is a deviation from the approved channel of communication
  2. Informal communication: This is not patterned or structured system of communication sometimes it is called the grapevine. Truths half-truth, rumors etc. spread quickly like wild fine unofficially and unapproved before the time they are supposed to be made known to the public.


On the various levels of the communication network, we experience interference or barriers that impede effective communication. Some of these levels are

  1. POOR OR INADEQUATE COMMUNICATION MEDIA: When the channels through which communication is transmitted like radio, telephones, television, newspapers, magazines, post offices are poorly maintained or inadequate for effective coverage, they act as interference or barriers to effective communication
  2. LACK OF PLANNING TO COMMUNICATE: Commendable success in most things we do in life requires good planning and so is communication.

Communication need proper planning especially in an organization. Whenever a new directive is to be given, we should have sufficient reasons to justify it. With this you are able to carry your followers along

Secondly, we have to select the most appropriate channel of communication. The choice of a channel is very crucial because you should have the background of your audience in mind.

  • NOISE: In communication, noise is regarded as anything that interferes or impedes effective communication. It could be mere noise from machines at work. Emotional, psychological, semantic, or other types of noise, the presence of which certain degree of understanding or reception is being impeded.
  1. LACK OF CONSIDERATION FOR OTHERS/INFORMATION OVERLOAD: As long as communication cannot be an individuals or one part affair, we have to consider the circumstances of the other person or party. We should empathize imagine our selves to be in the other’s place, always a position of disadvantage. Does the other party hear and understand us well? It is necessary to make sure that he does; therefore do not give too much information more than the receiver can handle at a time.
  2. INDIVIDUAL BIAS AND SELECTIVITY: We often carry our basics into many things we do and as a result often hear or see what we want to hear or see but not what the other party is experiencing. Our biases usually influence our communication, often selecting what we like to hear or do, instead of what we are being told to do or not to do. When this happens effective communication is impeded or is impossible.
  3. SEMANTIC AMBIGUITY/INADEQUATE VOCABULARY: In communication we should try to avoid use of words that are capable of double interpretation for we may mean one thing but the hearer or the reader means another. The problem of semantic ambiguity is even worsened by inadequate vocabulary which limits people’s ability to communicate effectively.
  • NOT ASKING QUESTIONS WHEN IN DOUBT: When a message is so coded as mentioned above or it is not so well expressed, there is the need to ask question so as to avoid being in doubt. In communication and in many other things in life, it is wrong to assume we know when actually we do not. So always ask questions when in doubt. As the Igbo say “One who asks question never misses is way”
  • UNCLARIFIED ASSUMPTIONS: Most of our assumptions are often wrong. Do not assume you know, you had better find out. It is only when this is done that we talk with certainty and leave nothing in doubt. Assumptions are usually emotions and prejudices.
  1. POOR LISTENING AND HASTY CONCLUSION: No one can be a good communicator if he is not a good listener. It is necessary to listen patiently to the end in order to arrive at accurate conclusion.
  2. USE OF TECHNICAL JARGONS: As the specialized vocabulary of a particular, profession, group of activity, jargons are usually confusing or meaningless to people outside that particular profession to which they belong. When such jargons are used in communication with non-professionals, one can hardly conclude that effective communication has taken place.

According to Molokwu performance and productivity is generally communicated with effective and efficient communication.

Molokwu finally gave ten steps to minimize these barriers to effective communication as follows

  1. Simplicity of language
  2. Use different channels of communication
  • Always ensure that there is feedback
  1. Reduce levels of supervision
  2. Use follow-up
  3. Be logical in organizing tour thought
  • Maintain efficient means of communication
  • Reduce personality conflict between the communicator and the communicated
  1. Avoid communication overload
  2. Remove distractions.


The literature review reveals that effective communication is one of the most important function of management in other words, secretary must see it as his most important function.

Again, the literature reveals that performance and productivity is generally tied with effective and efficient communication system.

It further shows that effective communication enables the secretary to update his knowledge with the latest innovation in technology that will help him perform.

Finally, it can be seen from all the reviewed literature that the role of effective communication in the functioning of an organization and the performance of the secretary can never be over-emphasized.

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