Just like smoking in the office and rotary phones, the idea of a simple secretary is becoming extinct in legitimate workplaces. While the term “secretary” is, in a strictly semantic sense, either being removed from language altogether or simply changing in what it represents, what is truly and more importantly being changed is the role of the “secretary” spot in the workforce.It used to be that the secretary was a female, sometimes crudely referred to as “coffee girl,” who was relegated to the tasks of looking pleasant for the customers, answering the phone, and generally maintaining a bubbly, positive demeanor. Their technical skills were limited, and they had little voice into policies and procedures within the office environment.
Nowadays, the concept has evolved. Even as secretaries began performing more complex duties such as maintaining their supervisors’ schedules, composing agendas, preparing meetings, negotiating with vendors, and more, the original position began to branch out into distinct units like assistant and administrator. Just as the assembly line introduced the idea of hyper-specialization in business processes, so too did human resources begin to place people into specific basic slots like data entry, reception, and office manager.
As the changing status of the secretary continues to alter the world of the business office, it may be worthwhile to take a glance at a few factors of the alterations taking place.
Currently it is, by a long shot, no longer good enough to just give a nice smile, answer calls, and deal with customers. The modern secretary must have superb computer skills, be able to navigate communication in multimedia, multi-task to an admirable extent, juggle workplace relationships both vertically and laterally, and be empowered to wield enough respect to file procurement requests and other operational tools.
No longer is it appropriate to think of a secretary as merely a pretty girl who lacks the skills to succeed on even simple duties. The equation of playing dumb to equal looking cute does not work anymore. Now, male or female, a secretary must have the knowledge and skill to compose their self in a professional manner in appearances, in face-to-face interactions, in verbal communication, and in every other relevant realm of the office space.
Whatever management paradigm you adhere to, whatever supervisory lens you peer through, whatever style you believe in, it is de facto accepted that the secretary fulfills a necessary, valuable role in the office, becoming one of the cogs without which the rest of the money machine could not run. It can be compared to a reverse trickle-down effect, where if there were no secretary, the front-line work would have to absorbed by the supervisors, with horrific consequences in the wake of the loss of workplace efficiency.
Which truly would be immense in consequence, in correlation to the rising important and usefulness of the secretary role. For this reason, secretaries should be embraced and appreciated, by their bosses, other co-workers, and customers alike.