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PROFESSIONALISM, MADATES AND ETHICS OF A SECRETARY BY   DALYOP, MICHAEL GYANG, mnips NATIONAL VETERINARY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, VOM-JOS, PLATEAU STATE,

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Presentation on theme: "PROFESSIONALISM, MADATES AND ETHICS OF A SECRETARY BY   DALYOP, MICHAEL GYANG, mnips NATIONAL VETERINARY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, VOM-JOS, PLATEAU STATE,"— Presentation transcript:

1 PROFESSIONALISM, MADATES AND ETHICS OF A SECRETARY BY   DALYOP, MICHAEL GYANG, mnips NATIONAL VETERINARY RESEARCH INSTITUTE, VOM-JOS, PLATEAU STATE, NIGERIA.   PAPER PRESENTED AT THE 5TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF PROFESSIONAL SECRETARIES FROM WEDNESDAY 17TH TO SATURDAY 20TH OCTOBER, 2012  

2 KEYWORDS Attributes, Confidentiality. Ethics
KEYWORDS Attributes, Confidentiality. Ethics. Information, Retraining, Technology ABSTRACT A secretary is an assistant to an executive. He is trained to type and perform many office duties. He possesses personal and business attributes. He guards his professional ethics of confidentiality, superb appearance and absolute loyalty. Bearden, J.N., Murphy, R.O. Rapoport, (2005). There are legal, medical and bi-lingual specialists in their own way. The personal attributes of a secretary include adaptability and self-confidence while his business attributes include secretarial skills and responsibility. The employment of new technologies in the office threatens the secretary. The secretaries are jittery and apprehensive about their jobs. The executive thinks he can use the computer himself and thus not needing the secretary.

3 This is so because the modern laptop does not require the executive to know keyboarding because he can talk to or write on the screen and everything would be typed. He can employ internet teleconferencing facilities for meetings. All these notwithstanding, the secretary is indispensable. This is because the executive needs an assistant who invariably must be the secretary who is trained in receiving visitors, answering and making telephone calls when the executive is busy on very important engagements. What the secretary needs in order to keep his job is to be abreast of the new technologies. He should continually undergo retraining in secretarial or office skills and communication skills.

4 INTRODUCTION The role of secretary is one which is absolutely central to the smooth running of an organisation, particularly an organisation of notable size. Secretary– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. March, 2008). It is the responsibility of the secretary to not just ensure that telephone calls are curtly answered and appropriately handled, but also to deal with all other communication and make sure that appointments are made, kept and handled meticulously. Regardless of the industry, a secretary must present themselves as an example of the ethos, mentality and professionalism of an organisation in terms of both their correspondence and on a face to face basis. Organisation is absolutely imperative to first rate secretarial work but by no means the only factor to be taken into consideration. A secretary should have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the company they work for; they should know the structure of the organisation whilst also possessing the ability to make potentially critical decisions; think on their feet and have exceptional communication skills. In the modern office environment, the key attributes of a secretary have grown substantially. Jamie Lyons (2008) A high level of competency with computers, complex telephone systems and both digital and physical filing systems are now likely to be equally as important as good interpersonal skills, initiative and time management. Whilst skills such as touch typing are to all intents and purposes obligatory in the modern business environment.

5 INTRODUCTION The role of secretary is one which is absolutely central to the smooth running of an organisation, particularly an organisation of notable size. Secretary– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. March, 2008). It is the responsibility of the secretary to not just ensure that telephone calls are curtly answered and appropriately handled, but also to deal with all other communication and make sure that appointments are made, kept and handled meticulously. Regardless of the industry, a secretary must present themselves as an example of the ethos, mentality and professionalism of an organisation in terms of both their correspondence and on a face to face basis. Organisation is absolutely imperative to first rate secretarial work but by no means the only factor to be taken into consideration. A secretary should have an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of the company they work for; they should know the structure of the organisation whilst also possessing the ability to make potentially critical decisions; think on their feet and have exceptional communication skills. In the modern office environment, the key attributes of a secretary have grown substantially. Jamie Lyons (2008) A high level of competency with computers, complex telephone systems and both digital and physical filing systems are now likely to be equally as important as good interpersonal skills, initiative and time management. Whilst skills such as touch typing are to all intents and purposes obligatory in the modern business environment.

6 There is no limit to the tasks a secretary could be expected to undertake and different sized organizations have different needs. In many cases the secretary could be responsible for handling expenses, organizing transport arrangements and even be highly involved with payroll and other areas of financial administration. One of the universal requirements however is that a secretary is able to take the initiative to make decisions quickly and to all intents and purposes correctly. Within a company, the secretary is the individual most likely to have the highest level of interaction with the office equipment. From the printer, to the photocopier to the filing cabinet they need to be aware of the machinations, requirements and maintenance of all forms of office equipment and highly competent in terms of its use. From the perspective of the employer: it is in their best interests to ensure that the office supplies and equipment they invest in is up to the task and capable of performing day in day out without issue. Even the most experienced and proficient secretary will struggle to keep the office running smoothly if they don't have access to the most appropriate tools for the job.

7 Gnedin, A. (1994). A secretary is a person, whose work consists of supporting management, including style of leadership, using a variety of project management, communication and organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit of more than one. In other situations a secretary is an officer of a society or organization who deals with correspondence, admits new members of staff to function or oriented them in their new offices, organizes official meetings and events. According to Lecture Notes of HND II PLSP (2008). His/her role in an organization as the secretary has many administrative link-up. Traditionally, technically, tactically, confidentially his functions were mostly related to correspondence, etc. The advent of word processing has significantly reduced the time that such duties require, with the result that many new tasks have come under the purview of the secretary. These might include managing budgets and doing some bookkeeping or given reports on daily performance, maintaining websites, and making travel arrangements. Secretaries might manage all the administrative details of running a high-level conference or arrange the catering for a typical lunch meeting, management meeting or board of directors gathering. Often executives will ask their secretaries to take the minutes at meetings and prepare meeting documents for review.

8 They put files in order base on priorities as they come, and also write letters and answer the phone. Secretaries use computers, fax machines, and copiers. Secretaries make sure that the information that leaves the office is right. Other people in the office rely on secretaries to keep things going well. There is apprehension in offices by secretaries as to what is their fate due to inventions and innovations in modern technologies. The computer has been invented to do many things that are hitherto done by the secretary. A chief executive can stay in his office or room to make flight and hotel reservations. He can manage information. He does not need any knowledge of keyboard to input his information. He can now use a pen to input his letter or document on the computer and with internet facility and with efficient server he can send his mail and receive reply. He can store, edit, retrieve and print his information. However, the secretary’s roles and personal attributes still make him somebody to reckon with in the office and in the organization. This paper will focus on who a secretary is, types of secretary, secretary’s nomenclature, his personal and business attributes, professional code of ethics, the secretary’s fear of new technologies, his fear is allayed and why a secretary is indispensable. A conclusion is given at the end.

9 WHO IS A SECRETARY The word Secretary has been defined variously by different authors and employers. Some of these definitions are: Onifade (2004) defined a Secretary as “An assistant to an executive, possessing mastery of office skills and ability, assumes responsibility without direct supervision, who displays initiative, exercises judgment, and makes decisions within the scope of her authority.” A Secretary is the person who performs the myriad of daily chores that nibble away at an executive’s time. “A Secretary as the principal administrative support position in an office increases the effectiveness of program staff by coordinating the paper flow of the office and carrying out the day-to-day administrative support activities required to accomplish the work of the organization.” (http://www.cs.state.ny.ns/tsplan/tsp) Talking about Etymology, “A secretary’s main purpose is to; bring food to meetings, especially ice cream and hot chocolate. The term is derived from the [Latin] word secernere “to distinguish” or “to set apart,” the passive participle (secretum) meaning “have been set apart,” with the eventual connotation of something private or confidential. A secretarius was a person, therefore, overseeing business confidentially, usually for a powerful individual (a king, pope, etc.). (http://en. Wiki pedia.org/wiki/secretary). “A Secretary is either an administrative assistant in business office administration, or a certain type of mid or high level governmental position, such as a Secretary of State.” Having expressed a few shades of opinion about who a secretary is; the ingredients that must be contained in explaining who a secretary is should include – confidentiality (secrets), assistance or support or help, professional code of ethics, typing skill and communication skill. A Secretary should be able to keep secrets of the organization and that of his boss. His role is principally that of support, assistance or help. He carries out activities assigned to him by his executive or takes initiative which is within his authority and responsibility. A secretary is a professional who has some code of ethics which he should guard jealously. He should be dynamic and versatile because he works in an environment that is not static. He should be

10 ready to accept change and challenges of the office and the world of work. His title changes in conformity with his responsibilities. For example a legal secretary has some professional responsibilities different from those of a medical secretary. The computer’s functions now change. You can now talk or use pen to write on the computer and what you say or write is typed devoid the use of the keyboard. What an amazing innovation in the world of modern office technology! Because the secretary interacts with people as the first contact of people visiting the organization and because of the operation of the telephone for the organization and his boss, his communication skill, human and public relations skill must be super. His appearance must be superb. TYPES OF SECRETARY There are two major categories of secretaries. We have the generalist and the specialist secretaries. The generalist secretaries are those who can work in any organization with some limitations when we talk of special or technical terminologies and skills. The specialist secretaries are the legal, medical, educational, bi-lingual, technological, and government secretaries Legal Secretary Wilson (2008) identified the following peculiar characteristics of a legal secretary: Must be an expert at time management, juggling many activities and roles at the same time. · Must possess psychological skills, dealing with many personalities. Must possess excellent judgment to make dozens of critical decisions, and Must have talents as a travel agent, personal chopper, living calendar, telephone directory, and mentor.

11 Government Secretary In the USA, they have Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Defense. In the United Kingdom they have Parliamentary Private Secretary who is the chief assistant of a Secretary of State or minister of the Crown. In Nigeria, we have Permanent Secretary who is the highest civil servant and there is Secretary to the Federal or State government. Medical Secretary A medical secretary works with doctors or pharmacists in hospitals and helps to provide necessary support services. Bi-Lingual Secretary A bi-lingual secretary works in foreign embassies and helps to translate correspondence accordingly. Many typewriters have German, French and English characters and only the trained secretary in foreign languages can use them. Educational and Technological Secretaries These are secretaries who are very conversant with relevant terminologies and provide necessary support services to their chief executives.

12 NOMENCLATURE It has been said many times that a secretary is an assistant who plays a supportive role to his manager or boss or executive. Because of the new roles or responsibilities of the traditional secretary, the modern secretary has such title or nomenclature as office coordinator, executive assistant, office manager and administrative professional. Personal Attributes of a Secretary Lauria (1972) highlighted the personal attributes of a secretary as Adaptability, Level headedness, Good observer, Intuitiveness, Flexibility, Tact, Friendliness, Accuracy, Thoroughness, Fore-thoughtfulness, Initiative, Self-confidence, Good listener, a good telephone personality and a good appearance. Business Attributes of a Secretary Harrison (1979) gave the business attributes of a secretary as Secretarial skills, Organising skills, Efficiency, Reliability, Responsibility, Discretion, Initiative, Tact, Diplomacy, and Punctuality. Professional Code of Ethics of a Secretary Tied to the personal and business attribute of a secretary is the professional code of ethics. The ethics of a secretary and office professional are moral principles relating to the job that he will be bound by. These ethics include confidentiality, honesty, loyalty, reliability, responsibility, work unsupervised (meet deadlines, set priorities), cooperativeness, flexibility, multi-skilling (learn as much as possible about computer program and other positions in the firm), and bribery (do not be tempted to accept gifts or favours from internal or external clients just in case there is an underlying reason). (http://www.secretarialsite.com/ secretarialethics.htm).

13 DO THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES THREATEN THE SECRETARY’S JOB?
Jamie Lyons (2008). There is no doubt that the modern technologies have thrown some secretaries out of job and the trend will continue for some time. The innovations and inventions in computer and its facilities have made the office to reduce the number of secretaries. Seale, D.A., Rapoport, A. (1997).The jobs which the secretaries perform in the office and the errands they run have been taken over by the computer. Let us look at the functions of the computer and its facilities which aided the reduction in the number of secretaries needed in the office. These functions of the computer and its facilities are: 1. Information which is the most important ingredient of the office can be stored, processed and retrieved by the computer facilities. 2. It can be used to produce fast and accurate information. 3. It provides very cheap services. 4. Messages can be sent to many people simultaneously with the use of computer’s internet. 5. Security of information is assured. 6. Time, effort and money are saved. 7. Stress is minimized. 8. You can purchase office items online. 9. You can book airline tickets and hotels online. 10. Space is saved as little or no paper is used in the office. There is no doubt that any secretary who works very hard to benefit from the opportunities provided for him through the programs stated above, cannot be afraid of losing his job. If an organization sacks him or refuses to promote him, he can easily get another organization. A secretary is very versatile. If an organization says “No” another one will say “Yes”. The “sky is the limit.”

14 The most recently manufactured laptops accept voice whereby you talk, your message is typed without having any need to use the computer’s keyboard. In the same vein, this computer accepts handwriting whereby you can write with a particular pen and all that you write is typed on the screen ready for editing and printing. An executive who does not know how to type may use either his voice or pen to produce his document. An office that has two or more secretaries can afford to sack one of them and keep just one of them. Looking at these functions, the secretary is not needed to go to the airport to book flight for his boss. Many jobs which were hitherto performed by the secretary are now performed by the computer.

15 THE SECRETARY’S FEAR OF LOSING HIS JOB IS ALLAYED
Harrison John (1979) Organizations and secretaries are now working to ensure that secretaries are retained in their work stations. What are these efforts that are being employed to ensure that secretaries keep their jobs? Some of these efforts are highlighted below. 1. Secretaries are continually retrained in order to keep abreast of innovations in the office machines, organization, attitude and responsibilities. 2. It is said that “As office automation continues to evolve, retraining and continuing education will remain integral parts of secretarial jobs. Changes in the office environment have increased the demand for secretaries and administrative assistants who are adaptable and versatile.” secretary training.htm 3. Secretaries are encouraged to tackle challenges through assignment of new responsibilities. 4. Secretaries are motivated in order to accept changes in the office. They are introduced to change in the office. They can see reasons for flexibility. 5. Secretaries act as members of a team work and thus making them to participate in some decision-making process. Secretaries are encouraged to use their initiatives in taking some decisions that are beneficial to the organization. 7. Secretaries are encouraged to be financial and active members of professional organizations. 8. Secretaries attend workshops, seminars and conferences which may be self-sponsored or organization-sponsored. 9. Secretaries are encouraged to own a laptop or personal computer. 10. The organizations have computers which secretaries use for office work. 11. In order to ensure continued use of the computers, most organizations have standby generator. 12. Employers look for good customer service and interpersonal skills. Well trained secretary should possess good human and public relations and communication skills.

16 WHY IS THE SECRETARY INDISPENSABLE IN AN ORGANIZATION?
Seale, D.A., Rapoport, A. (1997). First and foremost, the secretary is indispensable in an organization because he is a very versatile human being. He is a human being unlike the other office ingredients or resources that do not have initiative that can only be manipulated by the secretary. He is the organization’s image maker. He is the most important officer to be seen first and last by visitors to the organization. Although the computer does many jobs hitherto one by the secretary, the computer cannot replace the secretary because of the following peculiarities of the secretary. 1. It is the secretary that is trained to manipulate the computer and thus making it to function. 2. The secretary is trained to receive visitors in a manner that neither the computer nor any other person can do. 3. He knows how to keep secrets and confidential documents. 4. He is the custodian of office information and correspondence. 5. He is in charge of the supplies of the organization. 6. He possesses good communication skills and thus making him good in human and public relations. 7. He keeps a good imprest account. 8. He ensures an efficient and effective office by being current in records management and organizational ability. 9. He organizes meetings making sure that preparation before the meeting is faultless and activities during the meeting are carried out properly and after the meeting, things are put in order. He ensures accurate recording of minutes and prompt dissemination of the minutes. 10. He is the acceptable assistant of the chief executive since the chief executive cannot perform all the office functions despite his knowledge of the computer. He prepares light refreshment for the boss. He keeps his diary and constantly reminds him of his schedule. He prepares his itinerary and makes flight and hotel reservations for the chief executive. 11. It is the secretary that other office workers look up to for solving office problems and who can help them with required information.

17 What Makes a Successful Secretary?
Among "core competencies" are: understanding the company's business thoroughly; having a working knowledge of law; demonstrating a "presence" and having excellent communication skills; being sensitive and intuitive to what the CEO and directors are thinking and feeling; being able to read signals on the horizon and provide early warning to management; being able to mediate and assist in achieving consensus; knowing how to overcome bureaucratic thinking in the company; being detail-oriented; being flexible, creative, maintaining a sense of humor and balance no matter how pressured a situation.

18 CONCLUSION Secretaries have their own personal challenges because, they have to be retraining regularly in their duties and all their schedules in their tables need to be updated. They have to be specific with the words they use in every statement they write. Furthermore they are always in constant pressure from the governments of the day in which they served and have to ensure that their importance be recognized as employees who need every nook and corner in their offices to function or working. Most secretaries in Nigeria now satisfy the minimum professional qualification requirements which were not there before now. However, there are fairly widespread concerns about the overall effectiveness of pre-service training in dealing effectively with the practical aspects of real life working relationship. Although the working conditions of most secretaries are poor, the situation has been literally been improving during the last four years. As part of the present administration agenda, secretaries can rise to level 13 as per the present civil service, also a lot of improvements as per the contribution of the awareness and learning, schools have been provided with some basic facilities and material, such as computers to upgrade the teaching of ICT. There is no gainsaying the fact that the secretary is one single employee of any organization that is most important and needed. No matter the innovation or invention brought about by

19 the computer, the presence of the secretary (a human being) is needed for the computer to function. The secretary is a subordinate and an assistant that is needed by the chief executive for making telephone calls and receiving telephone calls. He is the only person trained in the efficient and the effective management of information, office correspondence and human resource for the benefit of the organization and in attaining the organization’s objectives. The computer is only an instrument or tool in the hand of the secretary and it cannot replace the secretary. The secretary will always be required in the office. Although they may not be many as it used to be, they are still needed and useful. One thing the secretary needs in order to keep his job is retraining, which can be done by attending classes or participating in online education for more knowledge on how to operate new office technology such as internet and teleconferencing computer facilities. As long as the secretary keeps abreast of challenges in modern technologies he will not be redundant or found wanting and he will always be relevant in today’s modern office. The importance and indispensability of the secretary in any organization cannot be overstressed. We now have automated offices or what some people call “paperless” offices. These offices use modern machines and methods in order to save such resources as time, effort and money. Human labour is also reduced greatly. The automation, notwithstanding, secretaries are still indispensable for the attainment of organizational objectives because of their roles and characteristics which are already highlighted in this paper.

20 REFERENCES Bearden, J.N. (2006). "A new secretary problem with rank-based selection and cardinal payoffs". Journal of Mathematical Psychology 50: 58–9. doi: /j.jmp   Bearden, J.N., Murphy, R.O. Rapoport, (2005). "A multi-attribute extension of the secretary problem: Theory and experiments". Journal of Mathematical Psychology 49 (5): 410–425. doi: /j.jmp   Ferguson, T.S.[2] (1989). "Who solved the Secretary’s Problem?". Statistical science 4 (3): 282–296. doi: /ss/ Jamie Lyons (2008). DGOS, experts in office supplies Macclesfield and office supplies Salford. Seale, D.A., Rapoport, A. (1997). "Sequential decision making with relative ranks: An experimental investigation of the 'secretary problem'". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 69 (3): 221–236. doi: /obhd    Gnedin, A. (1994). "A solution to the game of Googol". Annals of Probability 22 (3): 1588–1595. doi: /aop/   Harrison John Secretarial Duties. London: Pitman Publishing Limited. Lauria Morrie How to be a Good Secretary. London: Pitman Publishing Limited. Onifade Adewale Management: Office Business Education. Abeokuta: KAPPCO Professionalism in secretarial ethics com/secretarialethics.htm December, 2008. Secretary– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. March, 2008) Secretary Training. December 5, 2008. The Role of Secretary in Modern Offices. March, 2008)


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