A Survey of Training Opportunities Available to Professional Secretaries in Banks



A SURVEY OF TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO PROFESSIONAL SECRETARIES IN BANKS (A CASE STUDY OF FIRST ATLANTIC BANKS PLC AND OCEANIC BANK PLC OKPARA AVENUE, ENUGU)

The study an earlier stated in the introduction intends to finds our professional development activities that personal secretaries in government parastatals in Enugu state participate in the literature of the study is therefore going to be received along the following ways:

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  • Definition of profession
  • Appraisal of definition
  • Definition of a secretary
  • The role of secretaries in government parastatals in Enugu state
  • Qualities of a secretary lost professional growth and its consideration
  • DEFINITION OF A PROFESSION

Millenson (1962) defined profession as “ a higher grade, non manual occupation with both subjectivity and objectivity recognized occupational status, possessing a well defined area of study or concern and providing a definite service after advanced training and occupation”.

  • APPRAISAL F THE DEFINITION

On the basis of the above definition, one can easily say that before any occupation attains professional status, it must firs t and foremost involved non manual operation and possess a well defined area of study. Also, it should be able to provide a definite service to who ever that desires it after which the professional must have been well nurtured in training and education. This assertion seems to refute the individual view that it is status because of the importance of their service to the society.

 

  • DEFINITION OF A SECRETARY

It has been the belief of people that any hooky employee who sits behind the typewriter is 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 researchers to tell who a secretary is.

A secretary may be defined as the communication centre of any organization. She is the administrative centre of an organization. She is the vehicle for interaction and the image makes of any organization Oxford advanced learners dictionary of current English (1984) defines a modern secretary as who deals with correspondence and keeps records, makes arrangements and appointments for a particular or other organizations.

The secretaries functions both on handling correspondence and keeping of records. It follows therefore that while other classes or spices of record keepers and correspondence handlers may borrow the title secretary for want of appropriate description nomenclature the fit and the proper class entitled to the appellation ‘secretary’ is that class which by training education and growing in the art of record  keeping it secret of confidentially oriented. It is that specie which in actual work situation is more seen that heard.

In other words, modern secretary refers most appropriately to that class of correspondence or record workers who by virtue of training and orientation assures the position of repository of confidence.

The national secretaries association (NSA) defines a secretary as “ an executive assistant who possess a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who exercises initiative and judgment and who makes decision within the scope of on assigned authority. It must be stressed here that the definition applies only to the proficient and not just to any secretary. To qualify as a secretary, the secretary must undergo a course of study lasting a specified period on the rudimentary ethics and techniques of the profession. She develop  some dexterity in typing and short hand, obtain a prescribed certificate in the profession as well as reliance and applied and general knowledge

Phace (1972) defined a secretary as “someone who without direct responsibility assists another with communication and public relation in business professional and personal affairs. This definition suggests that not all who bear the title secretary or who performed some aspects of secretarial work conform to this definition, but those who know how to locate information and assist with research, how to write many types of business communication. How to use this language and styles, how to behave like diplomats, politicians and confidential advisers and how to be a business personality a secretary is an important officers in any establishment. The contribution and effectiveness of a secretary can either enhance or diminishes the efficiency of an organization. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between typist, a shorthand typist (Stenographer) and a personal secretary.

A typist

A typist is a junior staff member in an organization or office. The main duty of a typist is to type manuscripts and hand written drafts.

 

To be able to perform effectively

  • A good general education
  • A reasonable knowledge of English language
  • A typewriting speed of 35 – 50 words per minute

 

A Stenographer

This is a skilled worker who combines the skill of shorthand with that of typewriting. A thorough training in both skills is necessary.

 

To perform effectively the Stenographer needs

  • A minimum of general education of West African school certificates or general certificate in education at ordinary level with a good pass in English language.
  • A shorthand speed of 100 words per minute
  • A typewriting speed of 50 words per minute
  • A good knowledge of office routine.

 

A Secretary

A secretary combines shorthand and typewriting skills and a sound knowledge of secretarial duties. A secretary is an “executive assistant who performs her duties without direct supervision and within the limit of assigned authority.

Being an executive assistant and performing her duties with direct supervision portrays her as one who has every sense of ingenuity, direction, initiative, emptily and she goes beyond having the skills of typing as she deals with human resources. Planning and controlling which are psychologically oriented.

However, a secretary has now been known not only as one who can type or write shorthand but one who has possessed thorough qualitative training in institutions of higher learning and literate in the area of psychology, economic, low, etc. she must have the ability to seriously decide on issues without going ultra vines and must have good listening habit. She is seen as the image maker of an organization and any impression created by her has great impact on the public attitude towards such organization.

Austine Evelyn (1978) in her book “secretarial practice for secretarial profession defined the secretary thus: “ the secretary is not just an employee dealing with correspondence keeping account or booking appointment for the boss, the secretary is the chief executive organizer, deciding who to speak to or who to speak with, what matters receive her personal attention and what can be redirected to other executives.

A personal secretary is one who is privy to almost all the chief executive’s corporate and personal affairs. She often at times relieves her boss some of his administrative work. This is true because of her knowledge and expertise in office skills and sufficient knowledge of her boss activities.

 

  • THE ROLE OF PERSONAL SECRETARIES IN GOVERNMENT PARASTATALS IN ENUGU STATE
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The activities of personal secretaries are vital and need to be given particular attention.

Herm H. et al gave construction appraisal to the role and importance of personal secretaries in government parastatals in general especially when he affirmed that “unlike the administrator, the secretary is the part and parcel of the daily activities which are involved in government parastatals or establishment like impacting her knowledge to the filing system, the organization her boss work as well as keeping secret documents from the eyes of the public (especially in government establishment where there is a lot of private files). All these activities make a secretary to become secret only to her direct boss. So this statement suggests that the personal secretary is indispensable. Herms also state that secretaries should under take some activities which must make for her systematic development in order to perfect her profession.

Herms further assessed the importance of secretaries in government parastatals when he maintained that secretaries training qualifies her to function well in matters relating to secretaries functions as assistant supervisor in the establishment.

The innovation s of computers, dictating machines and the transcribing machines have helped to improve her skill and her capability to handle her job very well without supervision from her boss or any body. In explaining the secretary’s role Elendu O.

Elendu (1988) said that secretarial role involved the provision of essential management services at a level just below that of the executive.

From 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, structural information co – ordination, co – operation and interpersonal relationship between the different levels of management staff. The American association of secretaries also defined the secretary as “an assistant to the executive, possessing the mastery of offices skills, and ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervision, exercise initiations and judgments and makes decision within the scope of her authority. She is also a confidential clerk. From the above, it is understood that a secretary is one who assists the executive in the performance of his duties. The secretary gives her assistance in many ways, for instance, she reminds her boss of his duties thereby making work easier for the boss. The secretary makes traveling arrangement in her boss absences. She can also take over some of her boss activities in his absence.

John Harrison and Nanon Leishraften secretarial case study (1980) said “a person who types correspondences mainly technical report memos and presentation of materials, makes travel arrangement including cinerarias for complex journals, schedules and organizes meetings and shifting of current correspondence is a secretary “. After acquiring the necessary training the  secretary must be able to handle with dexterity, all types of business machine in modern business office. She must also develops acceptable social and professional behaviour and skills which will enable her deals professionally and effectively with people of different social, ethnics, religious and cultural background that she might come across in the course of performing her official duties.

Daniel R. Royal and Stephen Lawis in their book titled “secretarial administration and management” (1988) Sowa 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 perform miscellaneous clerical duties as assigned. S.A.B Orasanya “the effective secretary” (1988) said that “a secretary is an important officer in any organization whose contributions and effectiveness can either enhance or diminish the efficiency of any organization. Indeed, she is the alternate to the executives and the organization”.

Evelyn Austin defined a secretary as a person who manages her boss appointments, makes his travel arrangement, books his hotel reservations, reminds him of pending important matters, arranges his meetings and shields him from unwanted visitors.

 

  • THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SECRETARY AND THE 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 which can be discussed as follows:

The secretary as a professional requires no external supervision. All she requires from the principal is an outline directive to target.

Once the chief executive provides the assignment indicating what is required, quantity, deadline and classification, the secretary goes abroad to provide the technical imputes required to execute 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 is preformed 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 where the secretary is the co – ordinate. Place et al also observed that the of the secretary in relation to the chief executive in supportive. A secretary is usually defined as someone who without direct responsibility assists another in communication and public relations, in business professional and personal affairs. In view of this, it is clear that secretaries play supportive roles. They assist the chief executive and should be needed to perform their unchallengeable function. The secretaries are always in demand. This is the need to employ professional secretaries in the office.

Herms et al (1974) defines the secretary as an “executive who demonstrate the ability to assume responsibility without direct supervision, who makes decision within the scope of an assigned authority”.

The secretary has to be sensitive to her boss’s mood and feeling as this is important n the relation ship between chief executive and the secretary, to know when to border him with certain works and when to border him with certain work and when to take initiative. The secretary should also demonstrate the ability and willingness to assume responsibility and he accountable to unclear 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 subordinate depend very much on the secretary. If the secretary has good inter – personal, the chief executive should have no problem with her, hurt if she does not have, the chief executive will have problem with her.

The secretary also makes appointment for the chief executive and remind him of them, and where the chief executive made any without her knowledge, he should inform her of such as this improves working relation between them. It is known fact that the secretary is the public relations expert as she receives call and acts 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 only in making the organization services grow and to be socially relevant to the secretary. Hence a good and sound working relationship should be nurtured and maintained between the secretary and her boss to make for high productivity and job satisfaction.

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  • DUTIES AND BUSINESS ATTRIBUTES OF A PERSONAL SECRETARY

The duties of an effective secretary go far beyond taking notes at high speeds and producing letters that are readable and mail able. 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 he able to work without supervision in accordance with laid down procedures. A secretary who always asks questions is not being helpful in the office.

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

A secretary in the office is one of the first contacts an organization ha with the outside world. This may be through the telephone, the teleprinter or through letters composed and marked by the secretary. The impression that a secretary creates influence public attitude to the organization. Just like a public relations officer, a secretary must not forget the common saying that a “first impression lasts long”, if the public impression portrays the organization in a shabby way, the secretary helps to furnish the image of the organization. This impression may take a long time to erase politeness on the telephone, time dictation 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 minor problems by acting as the medium through which the executive initiate and concludes action by reminding the executive of outstanding matters and by furnishing the executive with fasts and figures that will enhance communication and therefore the successful discharge of responsibilities. Indeed, a secretary is an invaluable source f information for the executive.

Thought the job may appear thankless, secretary must learn to avoid self justification and must project the views of the executive in an understanding way. Generally, the executive’s success meets upon the secretary’s ability and job commitment. All secretaries must bear this in mind.

 

  • QUALIFICATION

Secretary’s 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 already filled to a large extent to become secretaries. A good qualification and the ability to defend it make a successful secretary may be discussed in four broad headings, namely.

 

  • Formal education and training
  • Professional interest
  • Experience
  • Personal attributes

 

Formal education

If secretary should have an appropriate education background, she should hold at least an ordinary national diploma in secretarial studies or its equivalent. She may also possess such qualification as higher national diploma (HND) also in secretarial studies. Bachelor of science in humanities, business education of such professional qualifications as associate ship of chartered institute of secretaries and administrators. She should be proficient in English language and he able to communicate competently, orally and in writing. An awareness of the current extents in social economic and political spheres would be great help to her judging for subordinate’s behaviour. She should be wee trained in office management system and procedures, office machines and data processing techniques.

 

Experiences

In addition to formal education and trainings a successful secretary should have a wide range of business experience as possible. The experience should preferably be in similar organization as the one which the secretary is employed. The more intensified the experience, the more valuable she is to the assigned duties.

 

Professional interest

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

 

Personal attributes of a personal secretary

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

 

  • Punctuality

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

 

  • Orderliness

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

 

 

  • Loyalty

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

 

  • Cheerfulness and mild temper

Cheerfulness equable temper and pleasant manners are all desirable attributes of a secretary. A secretary must be self – confident.

 

  • Alertness

An efficient secretary is a practical person, with plenty of good sense and sound memory. A secretary should be able to recall facts, files documents and telephone customers with reference to the diary or official records.

 

  • Tactfulness

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 hours of the executive may be elastic. A good secretary should be prepared t work beyond the officially recognized working 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 influence must be kept secret. A secretary must never discuss the employer, the work and going on in the office.

It is better for a secretary to appear stupid than to divulge vital confidential information. Ideally, a secretaries watchword should be “kept our secret – secret”.

 

  • Good posture and good health

An efficient secretary is a joy to the executive. A secretary must maintain good health and must be smartly dress all time. In order words, a secretary must keep a sound sourl in a sound body.

 

  • Ability to work with people

a good secretary should have good mixer. A secreaty should be friendly but firm disposition with other people. The compotent secretary must be capable of co – operating with colleagues in order to make a success of office work. In fact, a secretary should be able to dine with the kings, be able to dine with commanders, that is a secretary should dine freely with both the upper echelon and the lover cadres of the employee in an organization.

 

Refresher courses

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

The role of training a secretary in all spheres of the offices work cannot be over emphasized. The training of the Nigeria secretaries which manifested in a write up by Ladipo Ademologun entitled “Nigerian secretary” she stated the problem of the secretary’s development utilization and orientation. In that paper, Ademologun 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 demand on the secretary training must be continues programme for her. This could be achieved through refresher courses like the organization of seminars, work shops, in service training courses and such. They all go a long way in embarking manpower development and efficiency and production of a secretary. The orientating required here is a necessity for the secretary since she is expect to be versed in knowledge methodology and practice

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List of professional development activities

  • Members of a profession belonging to a professional association

(Tillian Morton (1975) opined that professional body is a constitution of a formidable team to involve and enhance, encourage the professional development of any profession. His view held that secretaries should get themselves activity involved in the activities of their professional association like the institute of Chartered secretaries of Nigeria (I.C.S.N)

His view of this, some to follow the line that since the association can organize some activities of professional growth. It should be an obligation to any body in the secretarial profession to belong to such association. There are also some short coming in belonging to such professional associations which is usually noticed when members or individual selected to pilot their affairs of such association turn their major objectives into that of the trade union, in which case they would be concerned with matters like fighting for increment in their salaries, fringe benefits and thereby neglecting other vital professional activities which they suppose to organize as well as finance.

Topharm E.L et al (1975), 9.35 had to say other activities of the professional secretaries include participated in conventions and consensus, professional reading and writing seminars, graduate and post – graduate studies as well as research graduate and post – graduate studies as well as research on the question of whether these activities should assist in personal professional association is a professional activity and it provides opportunity for perusal development and for shaping the future secretaries.

This literature has therefore recalled that engagement in professional association is a professional obligation secretary in government parastatals.

 

  • Professional reading and writing a professional growth activities.

This is another vital professional activity that a secretary is obliged to “read these articles which are relevant to his or her secretarial interest.” The professional secretary has an obligation to advance in knowledge and skills i.e. she should read to discover ideals about handling office equipment.

 

  • Research work a professional activity

Pophem E.L et al affirms that the secretary should advance in knowledge through “scientific method of inquiry”. This inquiry is more connected with research in order to find out new trends in business

  • Miscellaneous professional activities

After their graduation with H.N.D, they have to take professional examinations to keep them ahead the development in the technical world.

 

  • Inducting courses – as a professional development
  1. Millen son (1972) p.21 says that “this should be regarded as an integral part of the secretarial training process.” Induction, however, provides a forum whereby the new entrants in the secretarial professional are groomed with the necessary information regarding the profession.
  • In – service training of secretarial – a professional activity

This is another bold strategy that can enhance professional development as it is synonymous with staff development. G Millen son defines in – service training as “provision made by the secretarial system for performance of secretaries from initial employment to retirement.” This can be achieved through intermittent in – service training programme organized to keep secretaries abreast of new development.

Martion (1982) support the view that professional development begins its full stride when secretaries begin the job. This statement suggest that training is not something that is given once to new employee  but something that is supposed to be continuous and aggressive. It should therefore not stop until there is termination of service. It is noticed that given secretaries the opportunity to enjoy in – services training in the form of professional growth will enhance their professional growth.

 

  • Attendance at professional meetings, conferences and seminar an obligation to a professional secretary

It is important to note that secretaries should attend professional meetings, such as local workshops, seminars, conferences whenever possible. They may also have the opportunity to assist in the planning of such meeting in order to share the organization experience.

 

  • Summary

In the literature review, the definition of a profession was given as a higher grade, non – manual occupation with both subjectivity and objectivity recognized occupational status, possessing a well defined area of study or concern and improving a definite service after advance training and education. Secretaries are also considered as having attained professional status if the above definition is used as a good yardstick.

Again, the literature review reveals who should be regarded as a secretary. It also reveals that the role of a secretary is vital to the organization as well as to the society at large. It further shows that apart from the role of secretaries in government parastatals, they owe the nation a direct guidance on how to be successful personal assistants.

Finally, the literature identified some professional activities that can enhance secretaries performance in the organization such activities like.

 

  • Belonging to professional association
  • Engagement in professional reading and writing
  • Participation in research works
  • Induction courses for new employee, in service training for old employee.
  • Attending professional growth activities which can increase the secretary’s competence and performance in the office.

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