The Challenges of Being a Secretary in the 21st Century

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Many people when hearing the word secretary think of someone who sits behind a desk and answers phones. While this is usually one of the many tasks that secretaries perform, it is by no means all that they do. This is where the misconception starts. In the past, running a business was simpler and a secretary might have only been responsible for answering phones, but that is no longer the case in the 21st century. In the modern age of the internet and social media, secretaries have many more tasks. In fact, in some businesses, they have so many responsibilities that secretaries are called executive assistants or something similar. This implies that they are responsible for anything that assists the executive in carrying out his or her duties. In some cases, this even means stepping in for the executive. In other businesses, secretaries are called office managers because of their expanded duties in running the business.

Office Manager Responsibilities

An office manager is not really much different from a secretary, except that an office manager’s title more accurately reflects the job responsibilities.

Office culture refers to the physical and social environment of a workplace. This can be influenced by every factor, large or small. As for large factors, the type of business is going to affect the office culture. Also, the physical size of the office is going to affect the culture. Most importantly, the employees themselves are going to have the largest impact on the culture of the workplace. Small factors such as the furniture, the layout, the work hours, and the weather can also affect how a workplace comes together and functions.

Office Manager Responsibilities

The office manager is responsible, in many ways, for creating or maintaining a healthy office culture. This can be done through many different techniques, both overt and covert. For example, an office manager can create relationships and foster workplace collaboration by assigning an employee a task that cannot be completed alone. That employee must then choose a co-worker to help him or her accomplish this task. By observing whom the employee chooses to collaborate with, the office manager can see where relationships already exist. Conversely, an office manager can assign a task that is an explicitly multi-person undertaking and organise the groups him or herself. That way, the manager can observe how different employees interact.

The manager is responsible for creating the office culture, and for remedying it if it becomes toxic. A business is only successful when employees work together in a collaborative and healthy environment. Also, a healthy work environment encourages employees to stay longer. The more experienced, long-term employees are more efficient workers.

To some, this might sound more like psychology than secretarial skills, but it is all part of the job. Others might find this sort of work daunting; if you don’t know much about office culture or psychology, you might think you are unqualified to create a healthy workplace environment. That is why secretarial skills courses are designed to give you the knowledge you need to be an effective office manager. They’re also designed to give you the skills you need for the more traditional secretary tasks.

Secretary Responsibilities

While the office manager tasks of the 21st century might be part of the job, answering phones and taking messages is still part of it as well. This is the part of the job that people think of as the most typical secretarial work. It is also the part that many underestimate.

Secretary Responsibilities

Answering phones effectively is a skill that takes practice, especially when faced with irate customers. Unhappy customers call for a variety of reasons; some of them want something fixed and some of them just want to yell at somebody. For the customers who want something changed, you need to know how to communicate effectively with angry customers. People do not tend to communicate at their best when they are angry, so it is the job of the secretary to keep the conversation moving productively. For those who just want to yell at someone, it is the job of the secretary to make that customer feel heard and understood, so that he or she will continue to do business with you. These aren’t fun or glamorous tasks, but they are important, and they do require skill.

In a different sense, a secretary has to be incredibly knowledgeable to answer phones, because he or she has to direct calls to the appropriate places. When a customer or client calls looking for a certain service or department, the secretary has to know what each division of the business does, so that the call can be directed appropriately.

client calls looking

Executive Assistant Responsibilities

In their capacity as executive assistants, secretaries oftentimes have to do the work of the boss. When the manager is out of the office, he or she often leaves the executive assistant in charge. That is because the executive assistant, as stated earlier, is familiar with the responsibilities of practically every division of the business. He or she knows what each person is supposed to be doing and can keep everyone on task.

Typically, the executive assistant is responsible for his or her own duties at the same time. In a course designed to expand your skills, you will learn how to handle managing an office, as well as your usual secretarial duties.

Executive Assistant Responsibilities

Benefits

A course in secretarial skills can enhance the skill level of current and future secretaries. Whether you are already working as a secretary or want to get into the field, you can benefit from continuing your education.

In this competitive job market, it is always smart to take steps to set yourself above the rest of the competition. Job experience is a great way to do this; the more experience you have, the more attractive you will be as a potential hire. If you are young or changing fields, you might not have had a lot of experience in different fields. Continuing your education can help you set yourself up as someone who is very skilled despite your lack of experience in the field. There are many ways to make yourself a good potential hire, and you should consider taking as many steps as possible to be attractive to employers.

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