the Role and Performance Effectiveness of Professional Secretaries in Selected Government Metropolis

the Role and Performance Effectiveness of Professional Secretaries in Selected Government Metropolis. A Study of Three Selected Government Parastatals

2.1     Review of Literature

The literature of the study is going to be received along the following head.

  • What is a professional secretary
  • Appraisal of the definition
  • Definition of secretary
  • The role of the secretaries in Government houses.
  • Qualities of a secretary.
  • List of professional performance effectiveness.

2:1    What is a Professional Secretary

Millerson (1994) defined profession as higher non manuals occupation with both subjectivity and objectivity recognized occupational status, possessing a well-defined of study or concern and providing a definite service occupation.

Hornby (1995) defined profession as a paid occupation thya6 requires advanced education and training.

  • Appraisal of the Definition

On the basis of the above definition, easily say before any occupation attains professional status, it must first and foremost involve posses a well definite service to whoever that desired it after which the professional must have been well nurtured in training and education.

The stimulating issue for this study is find out how far those individuals in the secretarial profession today  are carrying out the supposed professional performance effectiveness in order to enhance their professional competencies and therefore make their impact to be felt in the society.

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  • Definition of a Secretary

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

Place (1992) defined a secretary as someone who, without direct responsibility assists another with communication and public relation in business, professional and personal affairs.

Hornby (1995) defines a secretary as one who deals with correspondence who deals  with correspondence and keeps and appointments for a particular or other organizations.

The National secretaries Association  (N S A) (1989) defines a secretary as an Executive Assistance who possesses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises  initiative and judgement and who make decisions within the scope of an assigned authority.

Austin (1978) however added that a secretary do not just deal with correspondenc4e, keeping records or booking appointments for the boss, the secretary is the boss personal organizer.

Goldhaber (1979) defined a secretary as the communication center of any organization. She is the administration center of an organization.

She is the interaction and organization.

Her functions bother on handling of correspondence and   keeping of records. It follows of record keepers may borrow the title secretary’ for want of appropriate descriptive nomenclatures the proper class entitled to the appellation is that class which by training, education and  growing in the art of record keeping is secret or confidentiality oriented.

According to Okafor (1097) a appropriately to that class of correspondence or record cooker who by training and orientation assumes the position of repository. Of confidence.

Orisenya (1988) stressed a secretary is an import office in any establishment whose contribution and effectiveness can either enhance or diminish the efficiency of an organization.

These definition suggest  that not all who bear the kettle (secretary of secretarial work comform to these definitions but those who know how to locate information and assist with research how to write many types of business communication how to use their languages and styles, how to behave like displomates, politicians, and confidential advisers and how to be real business women and men.

It must also be stressed here that the definition applies only to the proficient and not just to any secretary. To qualify must undergo a course of study lasting for a specified period, on the rudimentary ethics and techniques of the profession, she must develop some dexterity in typing and shorthand obtain a prescribed certificate in the profession as well as relevant allied and general knowledge.

It is therefore good to distinguish between a typist, a  shorthand typist and a secretary.

A Typist

According to Ikeagwwuanni (1977) a typist is a junior staff member. The main duty of a typist is to type manuscript  or hand written  drafts.

To be able to perform effectively the typist needs.

i         A good general education.

ii        A reasonable knowledge of  English Language.

iii       A typewriting speed of 35-50 words per minute.

A Shorthand –Typist

Ikeagwuanni said that this is a skilled worker who combines the skill of shorthand with that of typewriting. A though  training in both skills is necessary.

To Perform Effectively, The Shorthand Typist Needs:

i         A minimum of general education of west African school certificate or general certificate in Education at ordinary level with a good pass in English Language.

ii        A shorthand speed of 100 words per minute.

iii       A typewriting speed of 50 words per minute.

iv       A good knowledge of office routine.


A secretary combines shorthand and typewriting skills with a sound knowledge of secretarial duties.

A secretary is an executive assistance who performs her duties without direct supervision and within the limit of assigned authority.

Being an executive assistance and performing her duties without direct supervision portrays her as one who uses every  sense of ingenuity direction, initiative, empathy and she goes beyond having the skills typing as she deals with human resources, planning and controlling which are psychologically oriented.

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However a secretary has now been known not  only as one who can type or write shorthand but one who passed through qualitative training in institution of higher learning and  literate in the areas of psychology, economics, law etc. has the ability to shrewdly decide issues without going ultra vires and has seen as the image maker of an organization and any impression created by her has great impact such organization.

Evelyn (1978) defined the secretary as an employee not just dealing with correspondence keeping records, or booking appointment for the boss, the secretary is the boss personal organizer, deciding who to speak to or who to speak with what matter receive her personal alteration and what can be redirected to the other executive.

  • The Role of Secretaries in Government Parastatals in Enugu Metropolis:

The performance of secretaries are vital and need to be given special attention.

Harma (1974) gave constructive appraisal of the role and importance of secretaries in Government parastatal in general especially in the part and parcel of the daily performance which are involved in government houses like imparting her knowledge to the family system the organization of her boss work as well as keeping secret documents from the eyes of the public (especially government houses where there is a lot of private files). All these performance makes a secretary to become second only to her direct boss.

Harma also states that secretaries should undertake some performance which must make for her systematic effectiveness in order to perfect her profession. He further assessed the importance of secretaries in government organization when he maintained that secretarial training qualifies her to function well in matters relating to secretarial  functions as assistant supervisor in the organization.

The innovations of computers, dictating machines and transcribing machines have helped improve her job very well without supervision from her boss or anybody.

In explaining the secretary’s roles Elendu (1988) said that secretarial roles involve the provision of essential management service at a level first below that of the executive.

Form the above, the secretary is identified personally as contributing towards achieving and maintaining efficiency of operation the secretary must have a good understanding of the establishment structure information, co-ordination, co-operation and inter personal relationship between the different level of management staff.

The American Association of secretaries also defined the secretary as an Assistant to the Executive, possessing a mastery of office skills, and ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervision, exercises initiative and judgement and makes decision within the scope of her authority. She is also a confidential Clark.

From the above, it is understood that a secretary is one who assist the executive in the performances of his duties. The secretary gives her assistance in many ways for instance, she reminds her boss of duties, there by  work easier for the boss. This secretary makes travelling arrangements in her boss absence. She can also take over some of her boss activities in his absence.

According to Harrison and leistiraften (1989). A person who  types correspondence mainly technical report, memos and presentation of materials make travel arrangement including itineraries for complex journals schedules and organizations meetings and shifting of current correspondence is a secretary.

After acquiring the necessary training the sectary must be able to handle with dexterity, all types of business materials in modern business offices. She must also develop acceptable social and  professionally and effectively with people of different social ethics, religious and cultural background that she might come across in the course of performing her official duties.

Royal and Laois (1988) said a secretary in a professional point of view. They said that a secretary is a person who takes and transcribes dictation, composes routine correspondence, acts as a receptionist in assigned areas maintains files and records pertinent to the department and performs miscellaneous clerical duties as assigned.

Orisenya (1988) defined a secretary as an important officer in any organization whose contributions and effectiveness can either enhance or dimish the efficiency or my any organization, indeed she is the after ego to the executives and  the organization.

Austin E (1974) defined a secretary as a person who manages her boss appointments, makes his travel arrangements, books his hotel reservations, reminds him of pounding important matters,  arranges,  his meetings and shields him from unwanted visitors.

  • The Relationship Between the Secretary and

Chief Executive

Secretaries have a lot of work to do both within and outside the organization. There are some relationship between the secretary and the chief executive sectary and discussed as follows:

The secretary as a professional requires no external supervision. All she requires  from the principal is an outline directive or target. Once the chief executive provides the assignments, indicating what is required, quality, deadline and classification the secretary goes ahead to provide the technical inputs required to executive the job independently and in accordance with the established guidelines and goals of the chief executive or establishment.

Most of the work in the office are performed by the secretary although such jobs are supposed to be done by the chief executive himself because he is the man on top of the organization while the secretary is the co- ordinate.

Place (1980), also observed that the role of the secretary in relation to the chief executive is supportive. A secretary is usually defined as someone who without direct responsibility assists another in communications and public relations in business professional and personal affairs.

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In view of this, it is clear that secretaries play supportive roles. They assist the chief executive and should be needed to perform their unchangeable functions. The secretaries are always in demand. There is the need to employ professional secretaries in the office.

Harma (1974) defined the secretary as an executive who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises initiative and who makes decision within the scope of assigned authority.-

This definition infors that the secretary is an executive in certain matters as the chief executive deems fit and in acting for her boss, the secretary exercises initiative and takes the interest of the chief executive or the organizational goals and policies into cognizance.

Hence the secretary has to be conversant with her  chief executive mannerisms in attending to official matters and to apply such in acting in his place.

The secretary has to be sensitive to her boss moods and feeling s as this is important in the relationship between chief executive and secretary to know when to bother him with certain works and when to take iniative.

The secretary should also demonstrate the ability and willingness to assume responsibility and be accountable to endear himself to her boss as a partner in progress.

The boss should respect her because of her intelligence, discretion, honesty, firmness and reliability as a dependable representative or delegate who can stand for him in his absence. Apart from people coming from outside, the relationship between the chief executive and his subordinates depend very much on the secretary. If the secretary has good inter personnel, the chief executive should have no problem with her, but if she does not have, the chief executive will have the chief executive will have problems with her.

The secretary also makes appointment for the chief executive and reminds him of them, and where the chief executive made any w3ithout the knowledge of the secretary he should inform her of such as improves working relations between them.

It is a known fact that the secretary is the public relations expert as she receives calls and acks as the boss’ office memory.

It should be noted that the secretary is not an appendage to her boss.

She is truly in progress and an indispensable all in making the organization services grow and to be socially relevant to the society. Hence a good and sound working relationship should be nurtured and maintained between the secretary and high productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Duties and Business attributes of a Secretary (Heimann Sech (1974)

The duties of an effective secretary go far beyond taking notes at high speeds and producing letters that are readable and mailable.

The main duty of an effective secretary is to assist the executive. This is accomplished when the secretary handles most of the routine duties. The effective secretary should be able to work without supervision in accordance with laid down procedures. A secretary who always asks question is not being helpful in the office.

A good secretary should be able to arrange meetings compile minutes and reports and exercise control over subordinates. A secretary should be able to keep simple and correct records of accounts and consumable stocks.

A secretary in the office is one of the first contacts an organization has with the outside world. This may be through the telephone the teleprinter or through letters composed and mailed by the secretary.

The impression that a secretary creates influences public attitude to the organization. Just like a public relations officers, a secretary must not forget the common saying that a first impression lasts long. If the public impression portrays the organization in a stab by  way the secretary helps to tarnish the image of the organization. This impression may take a long time to  earse. Politeness on the telephone, fine diction and due respect all add to the efficiency of the secretary as a worthy ambassador of the organization.

A good secretary must help the executive to handle and solve miner problems by acting as the medium through which the executive initiates and concludes actions, by reminding the executive of outstanding matters and try furnishing the executive with facts and figures that will enhance communications and therefore the successful discharge of responsibilities. Indeed a secretary is an invaluable source of information for the executive.

Though the job may appear thankless, a secretary must learn to avoid self justification and protect in an understanding way.

Generally, the executive success rests upon the secretary’s ability and job commitment. All secretaries  must bear this in mind.


Secretaries work is basically concerned with shorthand typing reading and other secretarial duties. From this it might be assumed that secretaries coming in to work in an establishment are areas filled to a large extent to become secretaries. A good qualification and the ability to defend it make a successful secretary. The qualification which make successful secretary may be discussed in four broad headings; namely:

A       formal education and training.

B       Experience

C       Professional interest

D       Personal attributes

2.8     Formal Education and Training (Okafor 1987).

If secretary should have an appropriate educational background, she should hold at least National Diploma (ND) in secretarial studies or its equivalent. She may also possess such qualification as higher National Diploma (H. N. D ) also in secretarial studies. Bachelor of science in humanities Business Education, or such professional qualification as Associateship of chartered institute of secretaries and administrators. She should be proficient in English Language and be able to communicate competently, orally and in writing. An awareness of the current extents in social economic and political sphares would be of great help to her judginaher subordinates behaviour. She should be well trained in office management systems and procedure office management systems and procedures, office management system and procedure office machines and data processing techniques.

  • Experience (Millerson,G. (1972).
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In addition to formal education and training a successful secretary should have as wide a business experience as possible. The experience should preferable be in a similar organization as the one which she is employed. The more intensified her experience, the more valuable she is

Professional Interest:

A secretary should be a member of the professional organization   in her field and be in constant touch with the publication or journals of her organization. This would reward her and serve as an investment in the future development.

Personal Attributes of A Secretary.

In order to achieve an acceptable level of effectiveness a secretary should possess the following attributes.


A secretary must be in the office earlier than the executive before the arrival of the  executive. Before the arrival of the executive the secretary brings up the diary’s outstanding matters.


The secretary should be able to determine properties. Urgent matters must be given prior attention. A secretary should avoid being in a muddle by attending to matters based on the degree of urgency. The arrangement of the office surroundings is an indicator of the secretary orderliness.


A good secretary must be loyal to the executive whilst loyalists to the executive is important the   overriding loyalty should go to the organization.

Cheerfulness and Mild Temper

Cheerful, equable temper and pleasant manners are all desirable attributes of a secretary. A secretary must be self-confident.


An efficient secretary is a practical person, with plenty  of  good sense and sound  memory. A secretary should be able to recall facts file document and telephone customers without reference to the diary or official records.


A secretary must be tactful in handling dicey situations. Callers whom the executive may not wish to receive must be kept at bay by the secretary using appropriate words spoken in pleasant tones.

Enthusiasm for Work

The working hour of the executive may be elastic. a good secretary should be prepared to work beyond the officially recognized hours.

Ability to Keep Secrets

A secretary comes across confidential information about the organization and about the men and women who constitute the organization such information must be kept script. A secretary the never discuss the employer, the work and goings on in the office. It is better for a  secretary to appear stupid than to divulge vital confidential information .ideally a secretary watch word should be keep our secret, secret.

Good Posture and Good Health

In effective secretary is a joy to the executive. A secretary must be smartly dressed all times. In order words, a secretary must keep a sound soul in a sound body.

Ability to Mix with People

A good secretary should be good mixer. A secretary should have a friendly but firm disposition in dealings with other people. The competent must be capable of cooperating with coueagues in order to make a success of office work. In fact a secretary should be able to dine with the kings, be able to mix with the commoners, that is, a secretary should mix freely with both the upper echelon and lower cadres of the employees in an organization.

Refresher Courses

By the demand of this profession, the secretary is a professional, student reading searching and learning always to broaden her knowledge and know-how.

The role of training a secretary in all spheres of the office work can not be over emphasized. The training of the Nigerian secretary was  manifested in a write up by Ademolagun Ladipos. He stated the problem of secretary development, utilization and orientation. In that paper, Ademolagun wrote that there is the need to give the secretary the right training in order to meet the standard required of her.

To further equip. the secretary for the  efficient performance to keep her in readiness to meet the challenges of today’s demands on the secretary, training

the Role and Performance Effectiveness of Professional Secretaries in Selected Government Metropolis. A Study of Three Selected Government Parastatals


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