A Comprehensive Review Of The Factors That Improve The Advancement Of Secretaries In Business Organizations

Project and Seminar Material for Secretarial Administration

A Comprehensive Review Of The Factors That Improve The Advancement Of Secretaries In Business Organizations


It has been observed that the secretarial profession is becoming less popular in recent times. Various schools of thought have trend to offer explanations to this ugly trend. Some attributed it to the nature of this profession, others through that it has to do with the executive who is always bossing the secretary.

This course work is therefore aimed at finding out the factors responsible for the advancement of secretaries in business organizations.

The researcher made use of questionnaires administrations in collecting the necessary data. Frequencies and percentages were used. For the analysis of the data collected.

From the result obtained, the following deductions were made.

  1. Skill acquisition and work competence help the secretary to advance in the job.
  2. Good relationship with both colleagues and management can also ensure her advancement on the job.
  3. Frequent training and seminars also help the secretary to advance.

Based on the findings, the following recommendations to enhance the advancement of secretaries in business organizations where made:

Secretaries should improve their skills through training

  1. Secretaries should improve their skills through training.
  2. Organizations should provide opportunities for staff development.
  3. Opportunities for interpersonal relationship should be created to enable workers learn from one another

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Most writers on secretarial duties, secretarial management and office organization have carefully avoided the duties, levels and positions of professional secretaries except for the volume of letter, memo etc. type or minutes and pages of report prepared by them.

Clearly stated, the rules and levels or positions of secretaries are aimed at establishing ideas but it is in an attempt to discover and lay down those rules and lends, which should be followed that we discover some factors that improve the advancement of secretaries in organizations. Some of these duties were not enforced, but a branch of them normally provoke public condemnation and effect their growth. With the unfolding circumstances. The profession is fact acquiring a distinction as one of the most versatile essential services of modern economic communities. Nonetheless, the profession is becoming challenging and too many people perhaps enroll into the ranks as a future prospect. With more technological and industrial development, the secretary shall fully realize his potentials in the country. (Utomi; 1990).

As defined by National Secretaries’ Association (International), a secretary is an executive assistant who possesses a mastery of office skills, who demonstrates the ability to assume responsibly without direct supervision, who exercise initiative and judgment and who takes decision within the scope of assigned authority. With the above definition we can see that the present day secretary is a potential officer. A secretary is indispensable to management and it is true that a good secretary can make an average manager very effective and also a bad secretary can make an able executive very ineffective. (Odenigbo; 1990).

Lack of job description for secretaries has led to the misappropriation of skills unequal distribution of work, low morals, and bored (Appt; 1979). He stressed thereafter, that each secretarial position should be analyzed and task requirements of the job identified for better job description.

Job description of secretarial staff should contain a statement bout what a secretary does on the job and what she knows and should include also other classes of things that are done on the job such as preparation of a venue for meeting provision of refreshments, seeing to the cleanliness of the office which do not actually relate to the basic skills (Mayes and Beach, 1967).

Experience has shown that inspite of all that a secretary does to promote the image of the organization little or even the very boss whom she serves accords her no recognition. Lack of recognition and undefined job role have contributed to the poor self-image of a secretary in the Nigerian society. It is common that anyone who can type is referred to as a secretary by many, despite his not possessing the skills required of a secretary. This misconception of who a secretary is and what she does had led to non-challenging job experiences, law payment and lack of respect by the executive for whom she works. As a result, secretary are either underused or overused by organization without creating any room for their advancement. A situation whereby the advancement and promotion of secretaries depend solely upon her boss does not encourage personal initiative.

It is therefore necessary to look into those factors that effect the advancement of secretaries in our business organizations

1.2 Statement of Problems

The position of the secretary in any organization is very distinct. She is very essential and an image-maker of the organization. She is the mirror of her organization while some describe her as the life wire of the organization. Hence it because doubtful if any chief executive can discharge his duties properly without the assistance of a secretary.

Apart from being an administrative assistance the secretary perform such other functions such as clerical and receptionist duties and in some cases does some accounting jobs, which are not quite in line with her job description. The work of the secretary cuts across every aspect of the organization’s activity. As a result of being and all purpose staff, the secretary has been described by some schools of thought as an “unclassified” office personnel who is neither here nor there.

In the actual sense, a worker should be assessed based on his / her job description such assessment gives room for promotion and recognition.

Unfortunately, the secretary is not assessed based on the duties in corporate in her job description to recondite what she is doing with what she is supposed to do. The discrepancy between job description and the actual job done by the secretary does not given room for proper assessment thereby making promotion and advancement to be hindered.

This work therefore is aimed at discussing the various factors, which affect the advancement of secretaries in business organizations, and seeing how such factors can be elimination.

Such factors to be discussed includes:

  1. Structure of the profession
  2. Work competences of secretaries
  3. Relationship with management
  4. Relationship with other workers
  5. Lack of protection from formal organization.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is to discuss the factors that affect the advancement of secretaries in business organizations in some selected private organizations in Enugu Urban.

This will be done by determining:

  1. Whether the structure of the profession in Nigerian is always such that secretaries are subordinate to higher authorities and executives.
  2. Whether work competencies of a secretary affect the advancement of secretaries in business organizations in Enugu State.
  3. Whether the working relationship between management and secretaries affect the advancement of secretaries in business organization in Enugu State.
  4. Whether the failure of formal organization in Nigeria to protect and project the secretarial profession affect the advancement of secretaries in business organizations.
  5. Whether the working relationship between the secretaries and other workers affect the advancement of secretaries in business organizations in Enugu State.

1.4 Scope of the Study

This research work covers only two business organizations namely; National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and Emenite Limited Enugu due to limited time and scare resources.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. What are the factors that improve the advancement of secretaries in a business organization?
  2. Does the structure of the profession as always subordinate to a higher authority and executives improve the advancement of secretaries?
  3. To what extent does the relationship with co-workers improve the advancement of secretaries in business organizations?
  4. To what extent does the relationship between secretaries and management improve the advancement of secretaries in business organization in Enugu State?

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will reveal the factors that improve the advancement of secretaries in business organizations.

It is sincerely hoped that the findings of this study will be of immense benefit to secretaries of organizations who are not only going to have a well defined job description but will also have a brighter prospect for growth on their professions.

The findings of this research of adopted by business organizations will help boost the output of the organizations since a more cordial atmosphere will now exist between the secretaries and management.

With a brighter future and unlimited growth for secretaries, the findings of this research project will encourages young people to take to secretarial profession and seek employment in business organizations.

Nigeria as a nation stands to gain from the result of his research since the success of all business organizations put together will ensure an increased foreign exchange earning and a better standard of living for the citizenry.

1.7 Limitations of the Study

NEPA has many offices distributed country wide and the headquarter office. For ease of data collection, the data was collected from a sample station. The sample size of the station sampled for the study might not have been representative enough of the NEPA population leading to inadequate data collection. To minimize the effect of this limitation the headquarter office in Enugu was sampled. This is due to the fact that there were more staff at the headquarters offices than any of the regional offices.

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1. Summary of Findings

The study established that a majority of the respondents agreed that job description and specification, advertisement as well as selection and appointment exercises were fairly done by the organization. Considering recruitment planning, the study established that although there exists evidence of recruitment planning in NEPA, there were areas of improvement. In as much as majority 49% attested to the fact that the organization assessed needs for secretary Recruitment frequently (at least quarterly). 44% disagreed that the organization recruited immediately positions were declared vacant.

According to Cannon & McGee (2011), taking too long to fill vacant positions may result a backlog of work that may negatively affect the performance of the organization. At least 41% agreed that NEPA frequently conducts succession planning programmes. According to Armstrong (2009) management succession planning ensures that, as far as possible, the organization has the managers it requires to meet future business needs hence help to protect the organization from collapse in case a key staff resigns.

The study found out that a majority of the respondents were of the general opinion that induction, on-job training, career progression and succession training programmes were being well implemented by the organization. With regard to induction, a majority 96% concurred that they had been well briefed and were familiar with their roles and performance standards in the organization, 81% consented that they were proud of the organisation and contented remaining employed in NEPA, 77% agreed that were well informed of the organisations culture, rules, policies and leadership structure.

As for On – Job Training, a majority 89% assented that since joining the organization they had continued to acquire more skills, experience and knowledge relevant to their work and training. At least 77% gave the nod that they had eliminated their knowledge gaps and kept abreast of new knowledge in their line of specialization. On Career Progression Courses, a majority 86% confirmed that they felt they were well equipped to cope with continued changes in the world of work. 82% consented that career progression courses had enabled them to make better and appropriate career and educational plans and decisions. While at least 74% concurred that career progression courses had enabled them to improve their communication with their fellow workmates.

The research established that in as much as majority of the respondents were contented with the current recognition and appreciation rewards as offered by NEPA, there was need for improvement for the other indicators of reward management ie compensation, promotion and benefits. With regard to recognition and appreciation, 48% consented that they were always appreciated for good performance in their work. 48% agreed that were psyched up to excel in their performance because the organization recognized and rewarded top performers. 48% concurred that they were ready to increase their work efforts in order to gain more tangible rewards (certificates, trips, merchandise, and trophies) offered by the organization. At least 44% confirmed that they felt achieved in their career because the organisations reward system had enabled them handle challenging projects and tasks which had contributed to building their work experience and career ambitions.

As for compensation, 30% disagreed that NEPA was among the best paying organisations in the public sector. 33% disagreed that they were satisfied and felt they were being paid a fair amount for the work they do for the organisation. A majority 41% disagreed that their salary was commensurate to their skills and level of experience. In view of promotion, a majority 48% disagreed that NEPA promotes staff who excel more before maturity of usual promotion period, 45% acknowledged that their promotion were dependent on the quality of service they delivered to the organisation. 41% disagreed that they looked forward to working for NEPA longer because the longer you stay the higher your basic pay.

The research found out that a majority of the respondents were generally satisfied with the planning, organizing, directing and controlling functions of management in NEPA. With regard to planning, a majority 78% agreed that their managers gave them a clear picture of what to do, when and how to do their assigned work. At least 55% agreed that the management in NEPA enabled efficient goal setting at all levels of the organization which in turn promoted achievement of the organizations core functions. Considering organizing, a majority 99% attested that their supervisors delegated work to team members. 56% concurred that communication was prompt in NEPA. While 55% consented that the management style in NEPA promoted a lot of interaction amongst staff, teams and management leading to better achievement of the organization’s functions.

5.2. Conclusion

The purpose of the study was to assess the factors influencing advancement of secretaries in the Nigerian public sector. From the study, the lowliest rating advancement of secretaries aspects include meeting performance targets and meeting deadlines. The cost work performed (value for money) as well as rate of customer satisfaction were also found to be just slightly above average.

In an attempt to establish the factors affecting advancement of secretaries the researcher focused on the following independent variables; recruitment and selection process, training and development, reward management and management.

5.2.1. Recruitment and Selection

From the findings on recruitment and selection it can be concluded that inasmuch as NEPA’s recruitment planning has good practices such as frequent secretary Recruitment need assessment and succession planning training, it takes too long to fill vacant positions. Considering job description and specification it can be concluded that even though NEPA recruits both from internal and external sources and gives clear job description and specification, the involvement of employees and user departments in making decisions regarding staff recruitment is slightly below average.

As for recruitment advertisements it can be concluded that NEPA advertises jobs elaborately to all potential employees and is committed to ensuring that there is no unfair discrimination. With regard to selection and appointment it is concluded that NEPA uses effective selection instruments (interviews, testing etc.), considers only candidates with relevant skills and has well planned, objective and well-structured interviews. However the extent of transparency in shortlisting as well as the resistance to influence by external factors is slightly below average.

5.3. Recommendations

Recruitment and Selection

The public sector needs to undertake the following measures to enhance its advancement of secretaries with regard to regard to recruitment and selection.

  1. The management team in charge of recruitment planning should set up measures that will fastrack the recruitment process once a position is declared vacant. This would reduce backlog of work, overworking of the remaining lean staff as well as which may leave a negative impact on the morale of the affected staff who feel they were used and without pay.
  2. The management team in charge of recruitment to extensively involve affected employees and user departments when conducting the recruitment and selection process. This would best help to recruit the best candidate who meets what the user departments need.
  3. Public sector employers should exercise high level transparency when shortlisting and avoid any chance of influence by external factors such as corrupt politicians, donors, NGO’s.
Training and Development

The public sector needs to undertake the following measures to enhance its advancement of secretaries with regard to training and development.

  1. Before carrying out job rotation the management team should prepare the affected staff psychologically as well as technically by for example counselling them and giving them the basic training of the environment and nature of work in the new station. This would reduce on the negative impacts of job rotation such as loss of time, low productivity time, costs arising from errors (low value for money) among others.
Reward Management

The public sector needs to undertake the following measures to enhance its advancement of secretaries with regard to reward management.

  1. Public sector top management should enhance their campaign towards convincing their staff that the compensation they are being given is the best offer. This could be through staff meetings, media, seminars, training camps etc. They should furnish them with the best benchmarking examples which will convince them and thus help remove the mindset that their salaries are small and inadequate. This measure could restore the high performance spirit in addition to reducing corruption among other malpractices within the public sector.
  2. It may be time that Public sector should consider introduction of performance related pay system. The main purpose for this would be to invoke a spirit of high performance within the public sector employees.

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