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This research study focuses on an investigation into the challenges faced by secretaries in selected Ministries in Imo State. Specifically, five Ministries located in a modern office. (A case study of some organization Owerri Urban Council), Owerri, Imo State were investigated, Ministries of Lands and Survey, Ministries of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Works and housing, Education and Finance. The study adopted simple random sampling techniques taking into consideration the five ministries and the “secretaries” experiences with much emphasis on newly ones. Instrument for data collection was the questionnaire. In this study, three research questions were formulated for the purpose which includes the roles expected of the newly employed secretaries in selected ministries in Imo State, the office skills expected of newly employed secretaries in the ministries, and the various challenges facing the newly employed secretaries in the ministries. The result of the findings reveals that the general agreements on the first research question are endorsed as strongly agreed. Also the calculated mean responses for the items under research question two reveals that the respondents strongly agree to all the skills identified as the required office skills expected of the newly employed secretaries in selected ministries in Imo State. In research question three, four out of the seven challenges indicated were strongly agreed to as the challenges facing the newly employed secretaries, while the remaining three were strongly disagreed upon as challenges facing newly employed secretaries. It was therefore, recommended that the executives and indeed all staff should extend their hand of fellowship to the newly employed secretaries. They should neither be abused nor misused. The secretaries on their own part should work with caution.
1.1 Background of the Study
In every area of human endeavour, new entrants are naturally faced with certain challenges. The challenges are not usually very simple. Some are complex and so frightening that they can easily throw the ill equipped out of the track. This phenomenon is found in every profession including secretarial profession.
However, the intensity of the challenge varies according to the circumstances and the demands of the job. The newly employed secretaries in the ministries such as ministries of lands and survey, ministries of agriculture and natural resources, work and housing, education and finance, are prone to these challenges much more than others. One of the major challenges they face is that of acceptability. Before any secretary can comfortably work in any office, there must be an evidence of co-operation among the staff. This co-operation is born out of the willingness of the senior staff to accommodate the new staff. The co-operation is expected from both the super ordinate, coordinate, and subordinate staff of the organization.
Before such co-operation is given, however, the newly employed secretary must show an evidence of proficiency. She must display the skills, qualities and attributes which are required of a secretary. Furthermore, she must understand that most of her sub-ordinate staff have been in the ministry for many years. They are more experienced in the jobs than her and mighty even think that her presence in the organization is a threat to their chance of moving forward.
Ifedili (1995) noted that secretaries are one of the most indispensable tools needed in all spheres of human endeavour. He further added that government parastatals, ministries, companies and private organizations need the secretary for the smooth operation and achievement of their set objectives.
Elendu (2000), described the secretary as the life-wire of any organization. He further defined secretary as the pivot on which the management of any organization revolves. The Secretaries Association of United States of America (SA USA) describes the secretary as an assistant to the executive, possessing mastery of office skills and the ability to assume responsibilities without direct supervision, who display initiative, exercise judgement and makes decision within the scope of her authority.
But research have shown that the newly employed secretaries in some of our ministries are found wanting in these attributes. The newly employed secretaries are fresh graduate secretaries who have little or no previous work experience. They were trained with obsolete equipment.
Okoye (1999), stated that employers expects their secretaries to be able to operate electronic gadgets such as word processors, computers, telex, fax machines, the switch board equipment and other office equipments. It has been discovered also that the new graduate secretaries cannot operate these machines (a part from computer) because they were not exposed to these machines during their training. This has placed a question mark on their skills.
A good human relation is very important in every office without good human relations, there would not be the co-operation, which is vital for the smooth running of the office. According to Azuka and Agomuo (1993), human relations refer to the relationship between individuals and group of people within an organization.
A secretary is a harmonizer who acts as intermediary between management and those in the lower echelon as well as the public (Anyatonwu, 1998). The new employed secretary still need some time to familiarize his/herself with the ministry before she can carry out this essential duties. Another big challenge to the newly employed secretaries in the ministries is the “Nigeria Boss”, majority of the Nigerian executive are very fastidious that is, they always like every thing to be correct.
Therefore, you will hardly do something to please or to earn their praise. Some of them come to the office daily with piles of family problems, which they heap on their secretaries. Some of them are very inquisitive towards every movement made by their secretary, and they find it very difficult to resist the urge to show love to their secretaries. There is also the challenge of societal prejudice. The free use of the term “secretary” has made it impossible for people to appreciate the importance and the concept of the profession (Anyatonwu, 1998).
Furthermore, the traditions and conventions of the colonial experience when secretary typists were the order of the day, have created a situation in, which there is imposed limit of career prospects of the secretary inspite of her accumulated years of useful experience and education. These are some of the challenges, which the newly employed secretaries in some of the ministries in Imo state face.
Their ability to contend with these challenges is the mystery, which this project has revealed. It also offered suggestions on how to improve the work performance of the secretary in the face of these challenges.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Many studies carried out on the performance of fresh graduate secretaries more often than not point to the fact that newly employed secretaries’ lack some important skills needed to cope with the demands of the job. It has therefore become a challenge for them to live up to their responsibilities. The areas of deficiency should be sort out and possibly, an alternative retraining arrangement be made.
This is necessary to save the executives from possible an embarrassment. There has been an expressed fear that secretarial functions will in no distant time be taken over by sophisticated office equipment being brought into business by growing technology.
Unfortunately, the new graduate secretaries face a lot of embarrassment from these sophisticated machines with which they are supposed to work. If standard job classifications are defined on the basis of duties and output and not on ego according to Anyatonwu (1998), the challenge has arisen for the secretary to reaffirm her importance.
Today’s employer prefers the worker who helps him in improving or discovering new methods of solving problems or maximizing profit or meeting organizational objectives. The chief executives look for persons who can take responsibility in both routine and delegated functions, they need initiator and “self-starters”, there is need, therefore, to investigate so as to help the newly employed secretaries in Imo-State ministries to get on with their jobs without problems. (Anyatonwu, 1998).
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate into the challenges facing the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries in the discharge of their duties. Specifically, this study will find the following:
* The secretarial roles of the newly employed secretaries in Imo-State ministries;
* The secretarial skills possessed by the newly employed secretaries in Imo-State ministries;
* The various challenges facing the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries.
1.4 Research Questions
In the researcher’s effort to carry out this research, the following questions were asked in order to form the researcher’s guide for the study.
* What are the secretarial roles expected of newly employed secretaries in Imo state ministries?
* What office skill should the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries possess?
* What are the various challenges facing the newly employed secretaries in Imo State.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study is significant because some results of this investigation will enable the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries to know how to tackle the various challenges facing them in the execution of their duties. Some results of this investigation will bring to focus the office skills required of the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries. It will also serve as a scale for the newly employed secretaries to weigh their performances vis-à-vis their expected roles and responsibilities in Imo State ministries.
Through it they can find out their shortcoming and make amends. With the results of this study, the executives will conveniently appraise the newly employed secretaries in Imo state ministries. The result of the study will also keep in the recruitment and training of secretaries and other secretarial staff in Imo State ministries. It will also enable the experienced secretaries to know the challenges facing the newly employed secretaries in Imo State ministries. They can use their wealth of experience to alleviate the problems of the newly employed secretaries through the result of the study.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study is intended to find out the challenges facing the newly employed graduates secretaries in selected ministries in Imo State. The study is limited in its coverage because of respondents’ inability to supply necessary information and true situation of things affecting them. There is also the scarcity of text books, journals and relates literatures.
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