An Appraisal Of The Roles And Position Of Confidential Secretaries In The Civil Service

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An Appraisal Of The Roles And Position Of Confidential Secretaries In The Civil Service


Abstract


In an organisation, secretaries, in addition to the roles enumerated above, attend to administrators, staffs, customers. These categories of persons attended to by secretaries are referred to, in this research, as customers in a general sense. Customers are those who receive the an organisation’ services from secretaries. For the present study the term “secretary” refers to any person who possesses a mastery of stenography, word-processing, and computer operations skills. In an organisation, this means specifically that the secretary must cover those aspects of service like attending to the needs of customers and is expected to perform to standards that are precise and measurable so that customers can judge by themselves whether or not their expectations are being met.


Chapter One


Introduction

Background of Study

An office cannot effectively function without secretary. A secretary is very important in every organization. Secretary is the pillar of every organization. The objectives of an organization can hardly be achieved if a secretary is not employed. The success or failure of any organization depends on the secretary. The impression the secretary creates influence the attitude of the public towards the organization. Every secretary must be able to handle office equipment such as typewriter, converting hand written materials into printed forms mail room equipment, dispatch and receive of mails telephone instrument for communication purposes and the computer, a powerful equipment which renders itself to various uses. All these activities and many others not described here from the duties attributable to confidential secretaries.

Therefore, before appraising the major roles confidential secretaries play in the civil service of Anambra State. Let us have a brief concept of which a secretary means. Confidential secretary has been defined in various ways.

A confidential secretary is an assistance to an executive possessing a mastery of the office, the person must demonstrate the ability to accept responsibility without direct supervision assigned direction.

A mere servant, his position is that he has to do what he is told and no person can assume he has any authority to represent anything at all.

The above definition was made when the education status of secretaries has not been enhanced and their duties not clearly identified. As time goes on the positive of confidential secretaries has started to experience what can be termed as modification is occasioned by technological development, which afforded advancement in secretarial field. Many scholars and association formulated a coherent definition of secretary. Homby (1942) in his dictionary identified a secretary as: An employee in an office who deals with correspondence, keeps records, make arrangement and appointment for a particular member of the staff and usually called private secretary.

The importance of a secretary and his work in any organisation cannot be overemphasized he is the gateway of every employer as he is the first person to be seen.

According to Unwin (1982) a secretary is an ambassador of an organization, more often. He is the first person whom customer or members of the general public come in contact. A secretary is also a person to speak than on the telephone, and first impressions are important, therefore, the secretary has the responsibility of representing the organization.

The national association of secretary in their view described secretary as: An assistant to an executive possessing mastering of office skill and ability to assume responsibility without being directed, supervision, who display initiative exercise judgment and makes decision within the scope of her authority.

Oguniye (1978) in his handwork of secretary duties identified secretary as: that individual who has been professionally prepared through series of educational expose coupled with practices to records correspondence, minutes, finance, personal materials related to the affairs of the organization for which is employed.

Finally, confidential secretaries are employed in various ministries constituting the evil service of Anambra State.

They play significant roles but are faced with many problems, which will be identifier in the course of the research possibly solution or strategies would be suggested, aiming at ameliorating the problems, encountered by confidential secretaries.

Confidential Secretarial service delivery became too cumbersome that the Nigerian government had to introduce a social contract between the Federal Government of Nigeria and herpeople (SERVICOM) to assess services in all Federal Universities and Polytechnics. This is in line with the desire to ascertain the level of service delivery in all Federal Government agencies (SERVICOM, 2004) to enable such agencies to refocus on improving key areas of service where service deliveries are not satisfactory. As part of the process for commencement of the exercise, the office continuously gathers service charters from the Federal Universities among them, is “Customer’s Charter”. Customer’s charter is a written, voluntary declaration by service providers that highlight the standards of service delivery that they must subscribe to, the availability of choice for consumers, avenues for grievance redress and other related information (Economic Regulation Authority Perth, Western Australia 2006). In simple terms, a Customer’s Charter is an expression of understanding between the customer and the service provider about the nature of services that the latter is obliged to provide. The Charter is a tool to improve the quality of services, to address the needs of customers’ rights and to set clear standards of performance.

SERVICOM was established in Nigeria because, the public offices for too long have become showcases for combined evils of inefficiency and corruption whilst being impediments to effective implementation of government policies (SERVICOM Document, 2004). SERVICOM is a social contract between the Federal Government of Nigeria and her people. It is an effort geared towards transformation and a dynamic, focused and relatively short-term process designed to fundamentally reshape the public service.

According to Management Development and Productivity Institute, Accra – Ghana (2009) customer service involves all the activities which businesses and employees conduct or perform to satisfy customers. Customer service is the speed and dependability with which an organisation can deliver what customers want. It means doing everything possible to satisfy the customer. Customer’s satisfaction is the hallmark of the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of services. They are interrelated and interdependent. Economic Regulation Authority Perth, Western Australia (2006, August) defines Customer Charter as published statement containing: a list of customer entitlements; details regarding a licensee’s services; and information relevant to the relationship between the customer and the licensee. In fact Customer’s Charters aims atimproving the level of satisfaction of the customer.


Statement of the Problem

Confidential Secretaries in the Nigerian public service, of which an organisation in the Anambra states of Nigeria is among, tend to fall short of the expectations of customers in the provision of services. Successive administrations in Nigeria have instituted various administrative reviews and reforms to re-invigorate the public service. Some of these administrative reviews and reforms predate Nigeria’s independence. From the Tudor Davis Commission of 1945 till date, the initiatives range from installing more appropriate structures and conditions of service to issues of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the service and, lately ensuring service delivery improvement.
William and Tiffany (2007) assert that an organisation world-wide face a growing gap between the level of services expected by customers and what customers believe they actually receive. There is also a growing concern that in large and complex organisations such as an organisation, the problem of Confidential Secretaries’ inefficiency seems to delay the rate of operations and procedures.

Since there seems to be no clear evidence of effective performance of the Confidential Secretaries this research is therefore an effort to ascertain the level of Confidential Secretaries’ utilisation of service delivery skills in the civil service by office Confidential Secretaries. The problem of this study, therefore, is to establish how adequately Confidential Secretaries in the public service, including those of an organisation in the Anambra States of Nigeria apply their professional skills to meet the expectations of their customers.


Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in the Anambra-states of Nigeria apply interpersonal and resource skills necessary for improving their service delivery.

Specifically, the study sought to:

  1. Determine the extent to which Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in Anambra states of Nigeria apply interpersonal skills in their service delivery;
  2. Assess the extent to which Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in Anambra states of Nigeria apply resource skills in their service delivery;
  3. Determine differences in the extent Confidential Secretaries apply interpersonal and resource skills based on the ownership (State owned) of their institutions; and
  4. Determine differences in the extent Confidential Secretaries apply interpersonal and resource skills based on their type (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) of institutions.

Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions:

  1. To what extent do Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in Anambra states of Nigeria apply interpersonal skills in their service delivery?
  2. To what extent do Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in Anambra states of Nigeria apply resource skills in their service delivery?

Research Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:

  1. Confidential Secretaries in state owned organization in the Anambra states of Nigeria do not differ significantly in the extent they apply interpersonal skills in their service delivery;
  2. Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in the Anambra states of Nigeria do not differ significantly in their application of resource skills in their service delivery based on institutional ownership;
  3. Confidential Secretaries in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the Anambra states of Nigeria do not differ significantly in the extent they apply interpersonal skills in their service delivery;
  4. Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in the Anambra states of Nigeria do not differ significantly in the extent they apply resource skills in their service delivery based on type of tertiary institution;

Significance of the Study

The findings of the study are considered vital in the present reforms for best practices in Nigeria. The outcome of the study should be beneficial to Confidential Secretaries of an organization in identifying their needs for professional development in service delivery in line with the SERVICOM principles as that will enhance institutions reputation and increase profits.

The findings should sensitize Confidential Secretaries on Government Reform process and its implications for their institutions. It will also provide an insight into the extent to which Confidential Secretarial roles and responsibilities may have changed due to the changes in technology.

The findings of this study, if implemented, will help in curricular development of business education programs, plans and organisation of in-service training for Confidential Secretaries in their areas of need.


Scope of the Study

This study was to assess the role of Confidential Secretaries as tool for enhancing the quality of services rendered by government establishment in the Anambra States of Nigeria,


Chapter Five


Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

Summary of the Findings

From the analyses, the data and test of the null hypotheses the following findings were made:

  1. Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in the Anambra states of Nigeria apply all the interpersonal and resource skills to a high extent in their service delivery.
  2. There is a significant difference in the extent Confidential Secretaries from State owned an organisation apply interpersonal and resource skills in their service delivery.
  3. There is no significant difference in the extent Confidential Secretaries from universities, polytechnics and colleges of education apply interpersonal skills in their service delivery.
  4. There is a significant difference in the extent the Confidential Secretaries from universities, polytechnics and colleges of education apply resource skills in their service delivery.

Conclusions

The findings of this study have shown that Confidential Secretaries in the civil service in the Anambra States of Nigeria who apply all interpersonal and resource skills in their service delivery to high extent perform better in satisfying their customers’ expectations.


Recommendations

  1. Measures should be provided to ensure that only professionally competent Confidential Secretaries with ICT skills are employed to better position individual institutions to deal with the increasingly complex technological challenges of the 21st century.
  2. Enough funds should be provided to the an organization to enable them hire more, very much needed, technologically technical staff, to organise workshops, seminars and conferences regularly for Confidential Secretaries to update their current techniques and methods for ICT care and maintenance.
  3. Priority should be given to the establishment of an independent research function to support systems capability and effective service delivery practices in improving access, relevance, quality and all service delivery outcomes.
  4. 4. Specifically, if an organization are to realize this vision of a new knowledge economy which can compete effectively in the global market place, it requires enhancing the skills of Confidential Secretaries and increasing participation in the workforce, and continuing to attract more customers.
  5. The provision of professional development, training and re-training courses for Confidential Secretaries should reflect the needs of individuals and enterprises. This would foster improved linkages between Confidential Secretaries and an organization and their customers.
  6. There should be genuine dialogue between management of an organization and their Confidential Secretaries, training providers and those seeking learning. The provision of workplace based training which is fitted around working hours, needs to be actively promoted.
  7. There is need to design service standards, a complaint management system and Confidential Secretarial Citizen’s Charter. Monitoring guidelines together with pre and post assessment surveys should always be conducted to check compliance that Confidential Secretaries participate and are included in organising programmes for their professional development.
  8. Some strategies are to be adopted to ensure that adequate provision of facilities and equipment as well as enough training and retraining are provided for the Confidential Secretaries to make them professionally competent personnel in order to improve their service delivery.

An Appraisal Of The Roles And Position Of Confidential Secretaries In The Civil Service


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