Who is a Secretary?
A secretary is an essential part of all businesses. Every successful businessman or a person in authority, like a CEO or a National manager, requires a secretary. The secretary is responsible for helping them make their jobs easier by sharing the burden and doing things that do not require the person’s intervention in charge.
These duties are generally clerical, like replying to emails or providing approvals and appointments, but they can be diverse based on the industry and the nature of duties.
The Secretary position can be classified as an administrative position that plays an integral role in businesses. Secretaries are typically the ones who carry out all non-essential tasks of the person in authority.
Secretaries can be found in government offices, and non-government offices and are an essential part of every organization. They are indispensable and invaluable when it comes to accomplishing little but crucial tasks of any organization.
They are mediators when it comes to getting most of the work done in any company.
Following are a few of the typical roles and responsibilities of a secretary
1. Answering phone calls
Secretaries are often the first contact point for anyone who wishes to get to a person in authority. They are like the gatekeepers who let only a selected few individuals to the person in charge.
They accept solicited calls and messages from clients and sometimes pass on the message on behalf of the person they report to. While not common, Message distribution is nevertheless carried out in most offices and is done by the secretary. For example, a politician will not have time to answer all phone calls or reply to the messages.
The secretary takes up the role in such cases and directs each person to the appropriate channel. Secretaries have the expertise to direct the person and identify and distinguish between what is more important and less important for the person they report to.
Usually, an unknown caller is greeted by the secretary first, and she enquires about the purpose of calling. If she finds it suitable, only then it is let forward.
2. Organizing and distributing messages
This is one of the important tasks of the secretary, as discussed above.
The secretary is expected to organize and distribute messages to the relevant person. The message may be in any form of communication – these days being more emphasis on the digital aspects – they should be given to the respective person. Being in the pandemic and COVID – 19, even secretaries prefer online communication to offline or in-person communication. Their assistance in distributing messages is invaluable.
It is because of the communication skills that they can perform the duties of distributing messages. For example, a CEO will say to his secretary to draft a mail to ABC company and tell them that we cannot go ahead with this offer.
It is up to the secretary to draft the mail correctly in a formal business language and forward it to the respective company. This will, of course, be on behalf of the CEO. The mail drafting and sending it across and reply to any other communication is the secretary’s role.
Every office has multiple schedules that everyone has to follow throughout the day. The meeting schedules, appointment schedules, getting work done, follow-ups, delivery, and customer follow-ups work on different schedules. For the proper functioning of the company, everyone must follow their schedules.
Sometimes a chairman meets, or board directors want to visit a particular office to see if everything is going right. In all of these cases, it is the secretary’s job to establish, adjust, accommodate, and change schedules so that there is no clash.
The secretary oversees all of this and ensures that it happens on time. Sometimes, apart from managing these multi-people events, secretaries will also have to follow up on vendors and stakeholders and remind individuals about upcoming schedules.
They continuously send reminders about an upcoming customer meet, an event, a meeting, or a conference. Their job is to ensure everybody reaches on time for the planned event.
While newly established offices have relatively low paperwork, older ones have a lot of it. There are records of transactions with customers, deals, meetings, commitments, and many more details in this paper works.
Sometimes the person who made a commitment or made the deal is no more with the organization. In such cases, it is the secretary’s job to find the details of the commitments or the deal and ensure that it is fulfilled.
For this, organizing skills are essential. Keeping the data organized so that it can be found easily – not only by that secretary but also by any other person – is the secretary’s job. Most of the documentation these days is paperless and digital. In such cases, the secretary has to keep all of the documents organized in a folder.
It is stored in a computer database for further use if necessary, and whenever required, can be reproduced. Apart from documentation, keeping things ready for the meeting, an upcoming conference, a vendor meet, etc., all of these tasks are part of a secretary’s job.
Sometimes the secretary may also be required to use these documents and get a task done since they are frequently delegated authority. It is expected that secretaries have the necessary skill to use these files and documents to get the job done in such cases.
5. Hosting guests and clients
A secretary sometimes has to host business clients as well. This is true, especially if the client is essential. In such cases, the secretary has to do the job of hosting the clients. While this is the receptionist’s job, sometimes, the duties have to be taken up by the secretary.
When the guests or clients arrive, the secretary welcomes them and sometimes shows them around and introduces the office people. The preliminary discussion and keeping the guests entertained by offering them refreshments are also the secretary’s job. The secretary ensures that the visitors are settled comfortably where they are meant to be.
The secretary joins them at the meetings as well if required. Many times the guests are foreign and speak different languages. The secretary may also act as a translator to help the guests communicate with others.
6. Documenting basic financials
In many companies, finance is the job of the finance department. From issuing salaries to the employees to maintaining expenses, all of it is from the finance department. But even the secretary is also responsible for maintaining the necessary financial documentation.
This basic documentation may consist of but is not limited to filing and maintaining all the official expenses for the month, issuing approvals and maintaining the documentation for office expenses, ensuring all the team members submit their expenses and maintaining an excel sheet of the same, checking if the expenses are approved on time, ensuring there is no mismatch in the agreed amount and requested amount and settling the mismatch if any.
Apart from this, there may be other things like maintaining original receipts till a certain period, providing the originals if requested, etc. Most of the secretaries also keep data about the company’s financials like employee expenses and store them for an extended period.
They also have to be reproduced if required.
7. Managing office supplies
Secretaries are also responsible for maintaining office supplies. A functioning office will require different things to function. Most of all, stationery is necessary to operate in the office correctly.
Not only that but the records of all the transactions which have happened in the office regarding the supplies have to be maintained. The transactions should also be analyzed if there is an increased expenditure in a particular month and its reason.
The costs have to be justified so that the expenses can be approved. Even little expenses for a pen or paper, toner or copier, folders, all of them should be documented. Forecasting supplies considering upcoming meetings and events also fall under the duties of the secretary.
8. Organizing and conducting meetings
Every business functions on agendas and objectives and a meeting is necessary to discuss any such objectives. Every department conducts meetings to discuss their targets, objectives, achievements, and plans, and these events may clash with each other.
The secretary must organize these meetings in such a way that they don’t clash with each other. Ensuring that the meeting room or conference room is available for the meeting, allocating the room to only one team at a time, maintaining sufficient space between two meetings to get the room ready and cleaned up, all of it has to be managed organized by the secretary.
In some cases, the secretary may also be present to note the meetings’ minute. These minutes are then sent to the respective person and followed up by the secretary to see that the task committed and delegated in the meeting is fulfilled or not.
9. Assisting executives
Multiple projects are being conducted at a time in an organization. These projects are composed of many large and small tasks, and while a larger part is taken care of by team members of the project and the person in charge, there are other smaller tasks of the project as well, which have to be taken care of by the secretary.
For example, preparing a presentation from the meeting’s objectives, preparing a report for the team, getting the documents printed and signed from respective people, filing the forms, creating a new filing for every new project, etc. All of such tasks are fulfilled by the secretary, who is an invaluable help to the team.
For such things, the secretary should be able to multitask, know basic functionalities of the project, understand the computer, and should be able to dabble in essential software like MS Office, etc.
These hard and soft skills are necessary for the project’s success, and the secretary is an indispensable professional who possesses these skills.
10. Supervising office staff
The secretary is also a people manager since most office staff like the security, cleaning staff, receptionist, etc. report to the secretary. The secretary usually supervises all of them.
The secretary ensures that these people do the job, and they function regularly in the organization. They are responsible for the basic functioning of the office, and they should be trained accordingly.
The ground staff should know the organization’s rules and regulations like dressing, disturbing things in the office, etc. All of them should be trained for that, and the secretary sees to it that is done.
In some cases, the office will require any such employee’s replacement, which is attended by the secretary.
While the secretary coordinates work between people and tasks, sometimes, it is also required to coordinate between other organizations to get larger things done.
Like the secretary hosts guests from other organizations, there could be times when an official whom the secretary reports to goes to another organization. In such cases, the secretary has to coordinate with the other secretary to see that the functioning goes smoothly.
According to both officials’ requirements, adjusting things, ensuring it is little or no delay in the tasks assigned, fulfilling objectives mentioned, etc. are all done by the secretary. This coordination with other organizations may be temporary but of great significance since the success of many deals depend on it.
The secretary’s role in an organization is diverse, and it is to ensure that things are managed and coordinated smoothly. The secretary also ensures that objectives are met and documentation is completed to achieve the business objectives.
Implementing administrative procedures, ensuring company policies are met are all overseen by the secretary.