A Survey of Roles and Performance Effectively of Secretaries in Modern Communication Industries

A Survey of Roles and Performance Effectively of Secretaries in Modern Communication Industries

This chapter will  discuss the topic under investigation by highlighting also contributions made by eminent people on the subject.

To this end, the researcher wishes to discuss this literature review under the following headings:

  •  An overview of roles of secretaries in communication industries
  • The responsibilities or duties of secretaries in communication industries
  • The true image of secretaries in communication industries
  • Secretaries as a personal officer
  • The role of secretary in developing the office
  • The roles of secretaries in selected communication industries
  • Factors that affect the performance of these roles
  • Summary of literature review

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For over a century, a lot of technological developments hare taken place, as a result of industrial innovations which were introduced by the early colonial educationists as a means of time-saving devices aid business or professional life in various field of endeavour.  Businessmen and professionals were interested in the use of these devices in order to facilitate business transactions.  as such secretaries are involved in the system.

The word secretary comes from the latin word ‘secretin’ meaning ‘secret’.

The evolution of secretary ship started very early in the development of commercial and industrial organizations.  The office of the secretary emerged, whether  under that title or some analogous one such as ‘clerk’ because it was inevitable that some person should be made responsible for recording and translating into actions, the deliberations of whatever council, committee or board was charged with they conduct of an organizations affairs.

Job responsibilities entail enumerating some of the primary and secondary functions of recording incoming and outgoing mails receiving telephone calls and the interpretation of top management policies of motivating planning, organizing, controlling and supervision of all the secretarial the secretarial staff.

Harding Boultan (1972) states that it is perhaps a little unfortunate that the word ‘secretary’ is used to describe two very different kinds of occupation or position.  We all know that there are great many people, know that there are great many people, most frequently women office workers, who desribe themselves as ‘secretary’  with many of them, it is correct description, with many others, it is correct description, with many others, it is really a courtesy title given to a shorthand or audio typist who works solely or principally for one business executive.

The genuine secretary of this type, however, is a custodian of secrets (hence the name secretary) who works as a kind of personal assistant to an executive, not only typing his letters but also acting as his extended personality arranging his appointments. Receiving his telephone calls, reminding him of his obligations, writing routine letters on his behalf, and often being an intermediary between him and the people with whom he has a deal but for whom he cannot spare time for personal attention


“A secretary is a trusted and responsible one, and the person of whom he is the servant and representative and whose secrets he holds, is the legal person which is the company, corporation, council, or other authority which he serves”.

Boutton (1972) also enumerated further that the duties of the secretary depend on the size and nature of the company and on the arrangements made with him.  In any case he will make proper minutes of the proceedings, and will be able to take dictations in shorthand and transcribe effectively with the aid of the typewriter.

To these  duties, however may be added others as the contingencies demand.

Josephine Shaw (1977) while writing on the same subject started that secretaries have specific functions within the organization and their duties must be closely related to those functions.  She added that if communication are to flow smoothly and if each person is to make his or her maximum contribution to the efficiency of the organization, the duties must be closely related to the functions performed.

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Eva Roman, (1975) in his own account writes that, there is a vast and ever underlying difference between a secretary and a typist.  Whereas the secretary is in effect an extension of the personality of her boss, the typist is the detached user of a piece o machinery i.e. typewriter.  He however noted that no two secretarial jobs are exactly alike.  They may appear so, but the truth is that every job is different even though the general principles remain the same.  Each type of office has its practices gear towards its own requirements, there is a form of specialization peculiar to each concerned and an effective secretary will adapt herself to the demands of the office in which he or she is employed.

In the office of an Accountant, typing for example, will be largely the tabulation of figure, the production of balance sheets and so on.

While those in the communication in industries engage themselves in the following roles:

Proof reading out-going correspondence for  procedural grammatical accuracy, conference with general policy and factual, corrections and advising on deviations. This is to ensure that all letters going out of the office are meticulously checked and  certified to save the industry an embarrassment that may arise from errors dictated by the public.

The secretary makes it a point if duty to ensure  an all-season cleanliness and security of principal’s office and working environments, this entails establishing proper contacts to procure appropriate furnishing, staffing and equipment among others”.

Drafting letter of commendation, notification, appointment etc.  when the need arises.  Where the executive makes it a practice to acknowledge remarks, on the establishments, programme, secretary will have to review newspapers, periodicals and publications for such remarks and prepare appreciate letter for the executive’s signature or endorsement.

Hanna et al (1973), classified secretarial works “Routine duties consisting of opening mail, filing, replenishing supplies, answering telephone calls, and safeguarding confidential materials after work.

Josephine Shaw added that one of the qualities of the secretary is to be tactful, responsible, honest and so on. In receiving telephone calls, one has to be very careful because the many customers of the organization may come to make enquires and a secretary who is rude would portray a very bad image of the company to the outside world.

A secretary would be capable of handling telephone calls and should be fluent in English language.

Another important role of a secretary in the communication industry is the making of travel arrangement for the boss, taking and transcribing dictations of reports and telephone messages especially of highly classified technical nature and having the proceedings of large seminars, conference and workshops.

The secretary also performs the functions of receiving and dispatching mails.  This function entails the secretary either delegating some of the junior staff to the post office to collect mails or he performs the function of going personally to collect and dispatch mails to individuals who had mails.

Book-keeping:  the secretary as a jack of all trade and master of also must be conversant with the ideals of book-keeping so as to assist the division of accounts when the need arises.

The secretary who sometimes reeive visitors serves as a receptionist ot he company where he works.  His ability to treat visitors will  in so small measure portray the company in good light in the eyes of the company’s customers.

Evelyn Austin (1980) opined that it will be noticed that while the functions of various departments are totally different, some of the general roles of a secretary are the same, no matter in what department she finds herself.  Whether her chief is the accountant or the sales or even a more junior executive, she will have to arrange for any meeting he has to attend, make travel arrangements and reservations necessary, handle telephone calls effectively.

The secretary should be able to keep diary to help remind the boss of his appointments or other facts that might escape his memory and to types and file his letters.

John Harrison (1975) supporting views expressed by Evelyn Austin (1980) and Josephine Shaw (1978) opined that “the secretary is usually responsible for a certain amount of her employer’s routine work, which she should carry out cheerfully  and efficiently”.  He expatiated on the roles of secretary as being able “ to effectively efficiency receive dictations and transcribing the typewriter, the personal and business correspondence to her employer, taking care of her employer’s petty cash and bank transactions, handling reception duties including the receiving and entertaining visitors and handling telephone calls”

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Harrison added, that “a secretary’s role are enormous, for she is his personal organizer, generally deciding whom he sees and whom he speaks, what matters receives his urgent attention and what can be re-directed to others”.

It is this opportunity of personal service which makes the secretary’s job so different from that of other employees and indeed so much more rewarding.

Geoffrey Mills and Oliver standing Ford (1966) stressed that “the secretary holds an intermediate position between the office manager and the clerks.  He has a definite field of responsibility for a part of ahte office, and will normally but not necessarily have group leaders”

Nweke A.O.C. (1986) noted that there is no doubt that secretarial profession is a pilot of administration in every well organized office.

The secretary is, therefore, an indispensable member of the communication industry.  He and his Boss are a team welded together by the sequence of action.  A secretary can represent his boss in the latter’s absence, and to be able to do this in communication industry effectively the secretary has to acquire certain basic qualifications.  A sound knowledge  of basis English language is quite relevant.  A secretary does not find the daily performance of his duties hectic because he plans such activities ahead of time.  If the boss is to travel, he ensure that all the documents the boss requires for his journey are gathered and placed in a file jacket.

An NTA secretarial staff reveals that one of his role sin that organization includes recording messages and appointment and to remind his boss (i.e the general manager) about them.  He further stated that he does not allow his boss to be distracted by some visitors whose problems he can solve as a secretary.

Nweke concluded that a secretary is not expected to memories all pieces of information but his function as reservoir, for his boss, of all source of information, in other words he should be able to know where certain information could be obtained.

The secretary in communication industry should be polite enough in order to be able to handle customers courteously, this is because customers are valuable to the business and any attempt by any secretary to scare them away will surely earn him or her a bad reputable both from inside and outside the organization.

Elendu O. Elendu (1983) stated that the roles of a secretary varies from one office to another, depending on the nature of the organization and the type of office he finds himself.  The functions enumerated by Elendu seems to support Josephine Shaw, Evelyn Austin and John Harrison views.


          Industries cannot work effectively and efficiency without secretaries backing it up, and the secretary is the image maker of any successful  industry.  This he does through the ways he handle matters in that organization.  The way the secretary receives visitors, answers calls, gives attention to customers and his general behaviors has a lot to do both internally and externally.

Asogwa (1998) recognizing the need for secretaries in communication industries in an interview stressed that the roles of secretaries are enormous.  He said that organization cannot function effectively without a secretary.  In his opinion, secretaries represent the organization in which they find themselves and that the patronization to general behaviour of office works depend solely on efficiency of secretaries.  In his view secretaries perform Ambassadorial role, directory, and distribsutory managerial and messengerial roles in every given organization.  By qualification, secretaries are graduates from any institution of higher learning.

He outlined some of the roles of secretaries as including the following:

i.        A secretary drafted letters and circulars on behalf of his boss. He writes it types and proof-read for the boss to sign.

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ii.       The secretary distributes letters to the people concerned but before he does that, he makes sure the letters are error free to avoid embarrassment from the receivers.

The dispatching f letters are done by secretaries through the errand boy and this is where we (secretary) performs directory roles any department they find themselves and retrieves them when needed by the boss. This shows that they know everything that is going on in the office more than any other staff and this is where they apply the content of their name “secret” for the organization’s good image to be maintained.

A secretary makes sure that barriers are removed in communication.  This is achieve from the way he encodes his information applying words correctly, if it is oral communications, the tone used in replying questions and how careful he is while writing.

Without an efficient secretary, the economic level of any given country   will fall.  This is true because where figures are to be used in a letter for instance, the president of Nigeria is to be addressed on the issue, of payment of worker’s salary and a particular amount is stated for the secretary to type in.

He may not put the Naira sign (N) in the figure given and consequently, the information will be wrongly interpreted by the receiver.

Above all, he or she must always be punctual to work and this create a very good image of that organization to the outside world.

Again, the outward appearance of any secretary is a credence to his organization.  Secretaries are known for their smartness and always modest in their dressing.

To summaries it all, any person who thinks good about his country can now think for the competency of a secretary.


The secretary is a good ambassador of his office to the outside world.  He ensures that he makes a unique representation of his boss and office to the outside world by appearing very neat and pleasant at all times and tries to avoid making rebellions and defamatory statements.  Summarily, a secretary in any communication industry must be polite and become a frequent user of word/phrases like ‘please’, thanks you, in the enhancement of the execution of his ambassadorial obligations.

The secretary is administratively regarded as the next man in the office.   Although his primary functions in the office include taking of dictation from his boss and transcribing them.  A secretary has many other roles to play in the development of an office which really give him the next seat in every office that maintains the actual administrative functions.

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  1. Stephen Dangkat Plems says:

    I need a research material on the societal conception of confidential secretaries in modern business organization

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