A STUDY OF THE SOCIOLOGICAL FACTORS AFFECTING PROFESSIONAL SECRETARIAL CAREER IN NIGERIA
The aim of this research work was to find out how aid what type of sociological factors that affect professional secretaries in their career. Secretaries and their bosses were selected from different organizations as well as the student secretaries of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology and those of the college of education both in Port-Harcourt metropolis. The instruments used in this study were questionnaire and face to face oral interview. These were administered to the sample population. Questionnaires were administered to 150 student secretaries in which 130 responded. The result of the study observed that practicing secretaries dissatisfaction stems form the non recognition of their career as management team, no job prospects lack of rapid promotion. The career has being considered as inferior to other professions as well as being perceived as predominantly female profession. This is as a result of their non contributory attitude to decision making on the organization. This research work has five chapters. Chapter one contains a general discussion of the meaning of a secretary and the important role they play in an organization and what people feel we are in the society. Chapter two is discussing about the problems facing secretary in their offices. They are used as domestic skivvies and are regarded as shorthand typist. The main problems of the secretaries remains the perceived lack of status, we have always been perceived as just supported unequal treatment to secretaries compared to other professionals. Chapter three deals with the design of the study/research methodology, the methods used in collecting relevant date was administering questionnaires and conducting oral or face to face interviews on relevant persons, that is, secretaries and their senior manager as well as student secretaries. It was conducted in two higher Institutions, rivers state university of science and technology and rivers state College of education both in Port-Harcourt and in various organization. In data analysis a total of 330 questionnaires were administered to working secretaries, senior managers and student secretaries but out of this number 274 of them responded. Finally, the summary of findings, conclusion on the research and recommendations made by the researcher are all in chapter five. It was also discovered that non recognition of the secretaries as management team has contributed the secretaries job dissatisfaction. But with the advert of the new breed of secretaries who are given better education and the first exploration of the career by men, the impression about the career will eventually die a natural death and will be left to history.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
In this part of the world a careful observer would discover that what we refer to as sociological factors affecting professional secretarial career in Nigeria has always been mistaken. The management of some entrepreneur and institution management has failed in their duties of providing these basic needs to their secretaries. The world “secretary” has been defined by A.S Hornby, in the Advanced Learners Dictionary, as an employee or an official who deals with correspondences, keeps records, makes arrangements, appointment and other business affairs of the firm, society or club.
The Lexicon Webster dictionary, an encyclopedic edition, defines secretary as one entrusted with secrets, one who caries on another’s correspondences and performs other routine task; an officer of an organization or business who keeps records and assists in major decisions, a government officer whose business is to superintendent and manage the affairs of a particular department. Office is of paramount importance to the organization since it is a decision making centre and it is through the office functions that the organization achieves its goals.
The importance of a secretary in any organization is not to be over –emphasized but the profession has been misconstrued due to small ill informed masses. M. blight (1983) in duties of a professional secretary commented on this. He said that, this argument is, in part, attributed to the inability of employers to clearly specify job description for professional secretaries. Again, B.O.Ekong (1984) in his article titled problems in professional secretarial career’ hold that, ‘some employers believe that the secretarial school merely teachers shorthand and typewriting to its graduates therefore, did not see the reason as to the substance of making them beneficiaries of some service conditions and promotional benefit, with their counterparts in other fields. This could be the reason why a secretary’s opinion is always neglected in decision making. Although he has been employed by the boss for his assistance, but his opinion is not always appreciated. He attends meeting just as minutes jotter and reporter, his opinion is not being sought for in decision making. L.N.Mbaga (1984) in contemporary views, said that, “a professional secretaries are held as drop outs forced by self –induced disappointments and frustrations to specialize in typewriting and shorthand”.
Due to this misconception of the profession, less importance is attached to the secretary position. The secretary in an organization, is seen by other members of the organization, as merely an appendage. In most cases, he is regarded as a shorthand/typist by a majority of people. People well informed who are supposed to acknowledge the importance of secretaries in the society and consequently he feels slighted.
Some employers seen not to know the difference between the work of an office messenger and that of a secretary. Some secretaries are expected to do the boss’s wife or other co-workers and consequently this affects her psychologically. This was confirmed by an interview conducted by Nicola Tyre (1984), when a lady secretary said that at one time she had two houses to run as well as her normal job. She went on complaining that she was used as a domestic skinny, doing her boss’s personal errand running such as buying a present for the wife and her weekly shopping. These type of problems facing secretaries in the job tend to affect their productivity and stability, even those with genuine interest for the career one scared away and consequently secretaries change of occupation becomes more, than in other fields like engineering, business administration etc.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
It is an understatement to say that the professional secretarial career is unimportant. It is obvious that it is much important, it is also competitive and marketable and deserves nothing but recognition from every perceiving eye. A training secretary is capable and prominent office hand hence has presence is essential to the office. Infact, he is the boss as a nurse or a paramedical staff into the office. Surgeon and this contributes is no small way to the success of the boss and the entire organization.
The secretary profession is indeed on career that attracts a discrimination image from society’s evaluating eyes. Most managers who require to assistance of the secretary in the office fail totally to accord him a befitting recognition, rather they show disregard and disrespect for the career. As a matter of fact, the word secretary is often misunderstood by many people. While some are of the opinion that anybody who can write short-hand and use typewriter as well as known as a secretary, others see it as merely a woman’s career and consequently, a non –prestigious one.
The trend of though is due to a misconception and the culminating results from this trend of events are for reaching and affects the secretarial career very adversely. The secretary feels slighted, he is demotivated both to join and stay in the profession, he suffers image and personality (ego) problems and these accounts for his detraction and adherence and thus mass exodus to other profession. Based on the foregoing, therefore the study was geared towards identifying the factors responsible for the dissatisfaction of professional secretaries on their job performance and solutions to salvage the profession.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The purpose of this study is to investigate the causes of non-recognition of secretaries and their profession or career along side similar professions in our society. To achieve these objectives and these following research questions will be answered.
1. To know the challenges faces Prof. Secretaries in their job performance.
2. To what extent do these challenges Prof. secretaries stability in the career.
3. To know the measured could be taken to solve this problem.
4. To identify’ s those factors that affect secretaries on the job function.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This research work attempt were made to identify and analyze those factors that contribute to secretaries unhappiness or dissatisfaction while on the job performance. It is intended to reveal to the prospective secretaries on what they should expect from the profession. Finally, it is also intended to give clear picture of what the profession is all about.
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This research work is designed to study the sociological factors affecting professional secretarial career in Nigeria. A lot of organizations are now aware that secretaries needs to be provides with high productivity in the organization. The study was conducted in various organization as well as the two higher institutions, that is Rivers State University of Science and Technology & Rivers State College of Education all in Rivers State.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What in your opinion lowers the status of the secretarial profession in Nigeria?
2. What sort of problems do you encounter in the office and from your employer?
3. Are you recognized as a member of the management team?
4. What is your view on the way secretaries are generally treated?
5. What type of position are you expecting at the end of your course?
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
This term was made to identify or to explain those factors that affect professional secretarial career in Nigeria. These are the sociological factors; non-recognition and low esteem rating of the career, which resulted to the poor treatment of secretaries and also the physical factors which is known as environment as well.
Environment: In the management or organization contact, environment consist s of office building, the furniture layout and the physical conditions under which an office worker or secretaries operate such as lighting, ventilation, sound and safety measure etc.
Lighting: Bad lighting accentuates the possibility of low performance or output and inaccurate work result in secretarial job function. Enendu O. (1993) mentioned that bad lighting causes eye strain and fatigue to the secretaries causing low job output. Poor standards of lighting obviously affect the secretaries interest, attitude top work and makes them suffer from degree of eye strain, fatigue, irritability and other physical disorders. The effect of poor lighting should be understood as it adversely affects the productivity of the secretaries job function.
Poor ventilation also affects secretaries health thereby causing poor performance on the job function.
SOUND/NOISE CONTROL: Noise is known to have detrimental effects on the physical and mental mechanism of individuals. Secretarial work cannot be carried out efficiently if there is a constant interruption. Slamming of doors, sounds of footsteps on floor have remarkable influence on the moral and level of performance of secretarial careers.
SAFETY MEASURE: S.Mills and O. Standing ford has this to say; the health and safety at work act (19974) requires an employer to provide employee with a written statement of policy of the organization and arrangements pertaining to health and safety at work. Every office should have a first aid kit the staff should be prepared in case of fire outbreak.
OFFICE: In every well organized business there is the need for the record of its activities to be kept and protected. Office is where such activities are carried out and its record kept. The term office was first defined by Geoffery Whitehead, as a room or building where clerical processes are carried out to start, develop and control the many activities of business. Ronald Warson et al, defined office as the place where information is received, sorted, acted upon, filed and passed on.
Many organization have been said and written about the best way to ensure secretaries high performance on the job function and many people have argued that those secretaries have to be adequately motivated, in order to ensure effective job performance on their part. They outlined such motivational incentives as increasing salaries and wages, provision of certain social amenities such as free medical facilities, ensuring adequate recognition on the secretarial parts. All these motivational incentives would not increase the productivity of the professional secretarial career in Nigeria.
FUNCTION OF AN OFFICE: With the growth in information requirements and developments of processing techniques which gives the office an increasing important position in the enterprise, the functions of an office have drastically increased.
Receiving information: One of the main function of an office is to receive information. These can be inform of orders, letters, fox, telephone calls, e-mails and reports from the various parts that the business covers etc.
Recording information: Information’s are recorded in the office as they come in such information record are; faxed messages phone calls, memoranda as well as other messages contained in there are recorded by the office for current and future use.
Arranging information: information received and recorded are arranged in the office for management use. This brings the need for the information to be arranged to meet the requirement of the organization.
Giving information: Since the office accumulates information of various kinds and shapes and since it is in the office that information is arranged in the form that organization require to give out this information to people who need them eg the prizes and weights of some goods, date, time and venue of examination such as WAEC, JCE etc.
Safeguarding information and Assets: It is the duties of an office work specially, “secretaries” to ensure the safety of the information so that it can be given out when needed. These information safeguard are; computers, photocopying machines, fax machines etc. these assets must be safeguard against fire outbreaks, thelf and other hazards.