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Human relations within an organization cease only on employee. This study was therefore conducted to find out the office skill competences needed by secretaries for effective job performance. As a result of this, hypothesis were made. The total population for the study was 70 while the sample for the study consisted 40 practising secretaries randomly selected from four establishments in Enugu, 40 secretaries returned their completed questionnaires was used as an instrument for data collection. In analyzing the data, simple percentage were used. Findings show that:
The findings were among others that the demand in information technology, all Agencies still needed a secretary that will be capable of having general knowledge of office work. That is competency in computers, sense of judgment, ability of having communication skill, concentration on the job, ability to locate documents, ability to be punctual and regular, ability to work under pressure and accuracy. It was also recommended that secretary desiring to work in an environmental protection agency are expected to possess certain skills competencies in their office functions and also expected to use their acquired skills for the efficient productivity in their organization for effective job performance.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The world Technological advancement has ushered in drastic changes in record keeping through the introduction of new office technologies and new methods of communication. Man is an embodiment of change, his life circle is marked with different stages of metamorphosis which when it finally actualizes, adulthood is made secretarial profession, an inseparable bed fellow of management no exception. The secretary has been defined as one entrusted with secrets or confidence of a superior, or employed to handle correspondence and manage, routine and detailed work for a superior. Also Orisananya (1991) put it that, a secretary is a skilled and specialize type of employee in an establishment or part of it who is charged with some aspects of organizational functions in the unit including dealing with people’s correspondence and other business matters, with the above definitions, it can be deduced that the secretary is an important officer in any establishment and that the contribution and effectiveness of a secretary enhances the efficiency of an organization. This is the more reason that the secretary needs a proper training to be able to carry out her functions. For decades now, fast changes have been taking place in all facets of human life including the office environment. This is as a result of technological advancement. Every office in today’s business world, be it government, industry or other human endeavours, require facts and accurate information for quick decision-making. The office worker, including the secretary, expects certain support from the organization into which he/she is employed. This support can be technological (machines and equipment) and human. In offices of past, manager’s dictated memos and letters and secretaries typed them. Most recently, business have developed word processing centers and relied on personal computers and even electronic mail in an effort to lessen the need for secretarial support and make the employee-secretary very productive (Ezoem, 1995; Osuala, 2004). As a result of changes in technology, the role of secre taries in business has changed tremendously from that of typewriting and shorthand dictation, answering of telephone calls and processing of mails. Today’s secretaries are exposed to office technology including the internet that make work much easier and knowledge more accessible (Edwin, 2008). It is now easier to send messages by telex, electronic mails (e-mails), fax and telephones. Other office gadgets available to the secretary are photo-copy machines, duplicating machines, dictating machines, printers, among others. This is the era of computers and information technology which has become an enabler of greater convenience. 3 of the most popular types of computer software programme are word processing, which help the user to write and edit memos, letters and reports, data management programmes or databases, which help the user-secretary to use long lists of data and spreadsheet programmes, which handle tables and numbers (Dulek and Fielden, 1999). Secretaries now have many technologically advanced office gadgets to ease their jobs and enhance proficiency and productivity leading to improved access to goods and ser vices globally (Akpomi, 2003; Anyakoha, 2002; Wofersohn, 2001). There are wide range of office machines and equipment which now enable secretaries to improve their performances. Such new machines take the form of electronic typewriters that have replaced the manual ones. Word processors with milt-purpose facilities, computers and other sophisticated office machines and equipment are now provided by employers. Some of the physical equipment used by secretaries includes computer communication equipment and electronic pocket organizers (Lucas, 1997). New technological equipment that has altered the procedures and technique for office functions include the computers, electronic mail/commerce, voice mail, and the Internet.
A secretary is an office-staff who combines the mastery of secretarial skills of typewriting and shorthand with office routine functions. Automation is an innovation and a consequence of the industrial revolution. It is a collection of methods for controlling machinery and production processes by mechanical method, usually with electronic equipment. Spencer (1981) defined automation as the process of replacing human work with work done by machines or system designed to perform a specific combination of action automatically or repeatedly. Mayer (1977) defines a secretary as an executive assistant, who possesses a mastery of office skills, demonstrates the ability to assume responsibility with or without supervision, exercises initiatives and judgment and makes decision within the scope of assigned authority. It means that a qualified secretary should have a wide knowledge of business acumen, versatile knowledge in accounting, personnel, office practice, communication and inside knowledge of the operation of all departments within the organization where he works, unlike a half-baked secretary who possesses only knowledge of shorthand, typewriting and basic office practices. The advent of the word processor has helped to make the secretarial career path cleaner. For a secretary to be employable in an automated office, Merony (1983) believed that such a secretary must be well versed in the following specific automated office equipment training:
i.) The concept and theory of specific automated office equipment.
ii.) Knowledge of the categories of equipment and their intended uses and differences.
iii.) The skill to use resource or reference materials properly.
iv.) Hands-on equipment training, etc.
The success of the newly introduced equipment depends on people, procedure and equipment (PPE). Automation can only be successful if a careful study is carried out to assure the need of the equipment and the financial resources available for the purpose. It is important to note however, that technology is not static, therefore it is essential that while planning to equip the office with modern technology, great care should be taken of the changing nature of technology. As such finance should not be invested into technology that is likely to become obsolete in a short time. It is believed that for a new equipment to be installed in any organization, it has to win the good will of the staff, since they are the ones to use it. By getting the good will of the user staff, the introduction and procedures will be accepted and effective.
An automated office, undoubtedly, offers new roles and responsibilities for the secretary. Such new roles presuppose that additional training and qualifications are required from the secretaries. The relevance of automation in business was identified by Aromolaran (2003) as follows
i.) Creating a distinct career path for the secretary.
ii.) Automation creates a prominent place for the secretary on the organisation chart.
iii.) It creates routine and assigned roles for the secretary.
iv.) With automation the secretary now spends less time in correcting,
revising, proof-reading and reproducing documents.
Silver and Silver (1981) asserted that based on the reorganization of the office and the introduction of the automated office equipment, the manager’s work is produced faster with professional touch. The manager is also able to concentrate on a more creative task with the presence of an experienced secretary assisting him. Spencer (1981) opined that automation remains a prominent factor that has contributed immensely and positively to the complete information processing revolution. In recent times, the secretary’s routine has reached an advanced stage due to the invention of automated office equipment. Most of the traditional and routine tasks are performed by automated office equipment such as computers, telephone, etc. In a nutshell, automation has improved general and secretarial education, thus, enabling secretaries to become better prepared for automated office tasks. Several changes have taken place in private and public offices as regard the roles and functions of the secretary.
The type of machines and gadgets that were used to produce, duplicate and store information has undergone a great transformation to cope with the fast growing world of technology. The success of any organization relies much on the secretary whose role though supportive is critical to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. In today’s organizations one of the things that make organizations unique is the use of modern technological gadgets. Both internal and external forces such as market competition, consumer behaviour, technology and quality management are the drivers of organizational change In today’s business world, every office requires facts and accurate information for quick decision making (Akpomi and Ordu, 2009).
In Modern Office Technology the role of the secretary is crucial in the life or progress of an organization hence, needs some technological and human backing from the work place. The effective performance of the Professional Secretary depends upon the office equipment, knowledge and skills, of Professional Secretary. The skill level and functioning of the traditional secretary involve greater physical and mental ability. The introduction of modern technologies and programmes has lessened the onerous tasks for the modern secretary. These range from production, reproduction, storage and retrieval among others. With this advancement of technology, the use of the computer and software programmes facilitates the work of the professional secretary. These include the use of machines such as printer, fax, pen drive, cell phones, photocopier, telex and internet. These requisite knowledge and skills make the position of the secretary rather challenging. With the improvement in technology and recent development in office, it is envisaged that the work of the secretary will be easier. However, these new developments brought by technological challenges require even more knowledge and skills beyond being a professional secretary. For the secretary to be abreast with the changing times, face the challenges and overcome the old ways of doing things she or he needs training requirements in recent times to help meet organizational objectives.
Information technology has affected many professions in recent times. The roles of secretarial professionals have been turned around by technology. It has provided the tools that shift the role of secretaries from that of information recorders to business strategists (Adedoyin, 2010; Appah and Emeh, 2011 and Jaiyeola, 2007). Several other authors are of the view that the secretary has to be well equipped to meet the present challenges of a modern office. There are conclusions by experts in the secretarial profession that there need to be changes that will reshape the office (Boladele, 2002; Onifade, 2009; Igbinedion, 2010).
The training of an efficient and effective secretary should cover not any skills in shorthand and type-writing but also in other managerial skills. These skills should be backed up by appropriate demeanour and etiquette at all times. Evans (1980) noted that the secretary’s role will be supporting, but with the added requirement of technological knowledge will encompass data administration and information management, allowing the secretary to analysis complex situations and submit practical recommendation. With the introduction of these new machines, people are trained to acquire new skill for operating them. It is therefore, noted that proper record keeping makes it easier for information to be retrieved for use with a lot of ease. This, of course, had tended to reduce the work lead of a secretary. Even though a lot of charges have begun in technology, the question now is what are the office skill competences needed by the secretary for effective job performance?
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The technological changes that are taking place in different disciplines are also being witnessed in some offices today. New technologies or machines have been developed to make secretaries more efficient or improve working conditions. But certain questions need to be raised, do secretaries have the office skill competence in using office technology in every working environment or office? In what ways have these office skills been used by secretaries where applicable and affected the productivity and efficiency of such organization? Seeking answers to them constituted the major problem of this study
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
This study was conducted with the following objectives:
1. Overview of office skills needed by secretaries in some selected establishments in Enugu State.
2. Determine the relationship between Job performance and office skills.
3. Determine the relationship between office technology skills and effectiveness of a secretary towards enhancing the efficiency of an organization.
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