Survey Into the Degree of Usefulness of Shorthand to Modern Secretaries
PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to:
1. Determine the extent shorthand is used in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Enugu.
2. Determine problems inherent in usage of shorthand by these secretaries.
3. Find out whether the degree of usage justifies the efforts normally employed in the acquisition of the skill.
4. Find out whether a person without shorthand skill can work effectively and efficiently as a secretary.
5. Make recommendations on how to make effective use of shorthand in our offices today.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and furthermore recognize the efforts of scholars who had previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.
THE MEANING OF A SECRETARY
The word secretary simply means a person who works in an office and manages the organization. Although a secretary is perceived more as a personal assistant or administrative assistant, the professional secretary is one of the most essential human resources in a business organization because he helps make the wheel of the organization to turn. A secretary is a person, whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of professional ethics and communication and organizational skills. Wordnet (2008) defines secretary as a person who assists a member of staff or top management level, and who undertakes a lot of administrative tasks for the smooth running of the office. This definition was confirmed by wikipedia (2008) where a secretary is seen as a person employed to write orders, letters, dispatch public or private papers, records and the like, an official scribe, one who attends to correspondence and transacts other business for an association, a public body, or an individual.
A secretary is an indispensable element in achieving organizational goals. He serves as a memory bank in his organization, scrutinizes visitors so as to give the executive enough time to do some other office activities, keep records so as to prevent embracement and the lost of important document which could consequently have a negative effect to the organization.Secretaries provide the unseen services which make the organizations to prosper.
Secretaries according to Ahukannah and Ekelegbe (2008) are classified into four categories:
Professional Secretary: This is the secretary by reason of training, ethics, orientation and skills. He must be an expert in shorthand writing, typewriting and use of computer and ability to deal with office routine activities. This category (in other words termed as confidential secretary) is the researcher area of concern.
The Honorary Secretary: This is the one who is in charge of the correspondence, records and other business affairs of a society, club and other associations. He is not a professional secretary because he has not acquired the necessary skills/training.
Private Secretary: This is an employee who deals with correspondence, keep records and files in the office.
Corporate/Company Secretary: Companies established under the Companies Act 1990 are normally required by the statute to engage the services of a Company Secretary. He/ She takes charge of the administration of the company, as well as functions as secretary to the board of directors. Registrars of government establishment such as polytechnics, universities et cetera are the secretaries of their various institutions who take charge of general administration as well as cover the meetings of their various councils and produce the minutes.
THE FUNCTIONS OF A SECRETARY
A thorough review of the duties and roles perform by secretaries requires a classification or categorization of these functions. This classification allows a better understanding of the job the secretaries perform. For the purpose of this discussion, a number of classifications of function shall be reviewed below.
Administrative Functions of Secretary
An administrative function of a secretary involves organizing and controlling the organizational activities in order to achieve the objectives of the organization. It also includes supervision of junior staff and ensuring that schedules of work are being accomplished, directives and assigned tasks completed within the time span, and ensuring that all the materials needed for performing any particular job are available at the right time.
Ekwue (2009) advanced that a secretary must perform a variety of secretarial and office management duties, composes, types and files letters and inter-office memos, receives calls and interviews persons calling in office and makes referrals, prepares departmental records and disciplinary notices. Performing any or all of the mentioned duties depicts that a secretary is involved in an administrative function. Odiaua (2010) on his part included some duties like maintaining files and personal records, reviews, organizes and maintains files, monitors attendance including sick leave, annual leave and vacation leave, compiles and records data for computer files, develops and implements new departmental forms, recommends and implements changes in correspondence sent to public. All these as identified by Odiaua, save time for the executive/boss and make job easier. For secretary to effectively perform these duties, he must be conversant with the policy of the organization.
Personnel Functions of a Secretary
The personnel roles of a secretary include membership of interview panels for junior staff and assigning job schedules to staff. It also involves receiving, sorting and distributing mails within the organization, composing replies to correspondences on behalf of the executive, identifying and solving routine and non-routine problems by applying professional skills and techniques in order to develop the variety of ideas and modify situations (Shuaibu, 2009).
Secretary relieves his employer the task of determining the organizational staff strength due to the fact that he controls skills inventory, he does manpower forecasting (junior staff) and arrange for the staff selection and assign job schedules. Bashar (2007) stated that skill inventory by a secretary are the assessment of personnel currently within the organization by using skill inventory data card. This determines the staff strengths or otherwise of the organization.
On the other hand, he states that manpower forecasting by a secretary is concerned with the determination of manpower needs of the organization. The secretary through this process, estimates the number and types of junior staff currently on the payroll who will be available in the future (that is taking note of retirement, possible death and other opportunities in the environment); and determining the number of staff that would be recruited externally.
A mail service in form of incoming and outgoing mails is another important personnel role of a secretary. Ikelegbe and Miller (2011) opined that secretary must be conversant with the rules of incoming mails/correspondences, rules/procedures for outgoing mails and ability to compose replies on behalf of their executives on any matter. This office function saves the executive/boss time and lifts the goodwill of the organization.
Secretary must be skillful in written communications, as he will often be called upon to draft and edit correspondence on behalf of the organization to outside groups as well as internal members. The secretary must therefore be fluent in the organizations jargons, and be familiar with organizations communications style requirements.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitute of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
The study is focused on the survey into the degree of usefulness of shorthand to modern secretaries (a case study of union bank of Nigeria plc Enugu). Secretaries from three Union Bank branches in Enugu State form population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of Sixty (60) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which all were returned and validated. For this study a total of 60 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The study is focused on the survey into the degree of usefulness of shorthand to modern secretaries (a case study of union bank of Nigeria plc Enugu).
Survey research design was adopted for the study and with the aid of convenient sampling method, the researcher selected Sixty Secretaries were selected from three Union Bank branches ,in Enugu State the respondent of the study. Well structured questionnaire was issued to the 60 respondent of which all responses were retrieved and validated for the study. Data was analyzed in frequencies and tables using simple percentage, Mean and standard deviation.
With the growing interest in efficient system of business management, he inventors of shorthand feel it necessary to develop a system that would facilitate speed writing and help to reduce the problem of communication for management. This research has shown that contemporary Secretaries did not use Shorthand when they did their jobs. There is likely a challenge with the delivery and grasping of the art and substance of Shorthand right from training institutions. The researcher considers poor quality of instructors and admitted students as candidate factors to explore, as well as evolution of social media languages. Generally, Shorthand instructors in classes have not practiced stenography. Skills acquisition is not an easy practice in any profession and the same is true for shorthand. This could further explain why Secretaries are not practicing shorthand
Findings from the study revealed that shorthand is not extensively used in offices and that the speeds at which employers dictate is between 80 and 100 w.p.m. It was further discovered that executives insist on shorthand skill as a job requirement for secretaries though they do not use it extensively and would not employ a secretary two has no shorthand skill.
From the conclusion of the study, It was recommended that as many secretaries prefer to make use of their shorthand skill in their work, the executive should encourage them by dictating rather than writing out correspondents for them. It was further recommended that as shorthand is still considered a job requirement for secretaries, they should strive hard to master this skill in spite of the difficulties encountered in learning it to enable them meet the needs of their employers. As executive do not dictate at any speed higher than 100 w.p.m., there is need for secretarial training institutions to step down their shorthand speed requirement from 120w.p.m to 100 w.p.m. to relieve the secretaries of the anxiety of the additional 20 w.p.m.
Professional Secretaries should disabuse their minds from thinking that the emergence of technological equipment is an attempt to replace shorthand or displace them from modern offices. It is said, “As office automation continues to evolve, retraining and continuing education will remain integral parts of professional secretaries‟ jobs. Changes in the office environment have increased the demand for professional secretaries and administrative assistants who are adaptable and versatile.” This is because people who are trained to do so must operate machines. Thus, professional secretaries should embrace modern technology.
The researcher also recommends that professional secretaries should always be ready and be open-minded to acquire additional training/skills to development, their communication skill, bearing in mind that changes occur frequently in the line of their chosen career and they are not left behind in the use of information gadget in this digital age. Employers of secretaries should assess the prospective professional secretaries on the identified skills before engaging them so that they will not become round pegs in square holes. 4. Professional secretaries as much as possible should not discard their shorthand knowledge and skills irrespective of prevalent misconceptions of the public. They should consider shorthand skills as their stock in trade and make use of them as much as possible.
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