Important Skills for the 21st Century
The Role of the Administrative Assistant
- Word Processing
- Administrative Support: Incorporates all those duties that cannot be fully automated, that is, tasks that require individual attention such as organizing and controlling work flow, making travel arrangements, gathering information, planning and setting up meetings, keeping financial and legal records, and handling telephone calls and visitors.
The role of the administrative assistant in today's electronic office can probably best be described with the title Administrative Support Specialist. This title can incorporate word processing personnel, executive assistant, secretary, personal secretary, corporate secretary, and correspondence secretary.
1. Learning Skills
- Knowing how to learn.
- Need for adaptability
- Expected to learn so many new things rapidly.
- Tendency to cling to the familiar and resist the unfamiliar.
- Learning new skills and transferring skills already learned.
- Open to change.
- Develop an ability to recognize what you do not know and be willing to do what is necessary to gain knowledge.
- Develop the habit of reading materials related to your business/field.
- Be tolerant of errors. Try to accept them as a natural part of risk taking. A lack of tolerance for making mistakes causes some people to resist learning new things.
2. Basic Skills
- Reading, writing, and math.
- You need to be analytical, to summarize information, and to assess your own understanding.
- Expected to read all incoming mail.
- Writing tasks require a working knowledge of composition skillswriting, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
- Math skills are essential.
3. Listening and Speaking Skills.
- Communicate procedures.
- Give and receive instructions.
- Interact with customers, clients, and other business associates.
- Success on the job is linked to good communication skills.
- Ability to listen actively.
- Giving feedback.
- Pluralistic society.
- Body language.
4. Creative Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
- Looking at problems in new ways and inventing new solutions to existing problems.
- Use analytical skills.
- Able to list possible solutions and try the one that seems to be the best.
- Creative problem solving skills give you more control over your job.
5. Personal Management Skills
- Involves three elements: self-esteem, goal setting/motivation, and personal/career development.
- Self-esteemconfidence and pride in oneself. Recognizing that your very existence makes you an important person.
- Care about yourself.
- Set goals to achieve.
- Maintain enthusiasm and willingness to improve.
- Set personal and career development goalslook ahead to the future, and you will be more inclined to seek opportunities to learn new things and accept new challenges.
6. Interpersonal Skills
- Group effectiveness.
- Being able to interact easily with others and use good judgment about the appropriate behaviour in a given situation.
- Learn to cope with undesirable behaviour in others without becoming angry.
- Listen and respond to others with confidence and respect.
- Handle stress positively.
- Be willing to cooperate with others and share responsibilities.
- Negotiate conflicts satisfactorily.
7. Organization and Management Skills
- Manage your time.
- Plan and schedule your work according to priority.
PRINCIPLES OF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MANAGEMENT
Objectives of Administrative Office Management
- To ensure that relevant organizational activities are designed to maximize individual and unit productivity.
Productivity can simply be defined as the ability to produce with a given set of input. An employee is said to be productive if he is able to produce goods in a quantity and quality that has a value above the value of the input. Productivity comparison can be made between two employees. If each of the two employees is given identical sets of input, the one that is able to produce goods in a quantity and/or quality more than the other employee is said to be more productive. Productivity is important because it is tied to the overall production cost of the organization. Productive employees will produce more in terms of quantity or quality or both, and this in turn will allow the company to sell its products at a more competitive (or cheap) price. The company will be able to compete successfully with its competitors and this will ensure its continued survival.
- To provide effective management of the organizations information.
Todays business survival depends very much on its ability to manage the tremendous amount of available information. The advent of modern information and communication technology requires businesses to pay attention on the management of available information if it were to stay competitive. Information are continuously being created and made available, and if such information is not managed effectively, the business will not be able to stay ahead of its competitors.
- To maintain reasonable quantity and quality standards.
Customers are becoming more knowledgeable about products they buy and demand goods and/or services that only meet their requirements and specifications. In this instance, it is very important that whatever is produced by any individual satisfies the needs and requirements of its intended users.
- To develop effective work processes and procedures.
The advent of modern office technology, particularly in the area of information and communication technology requires new ways of doing work. To achieve objectives, work processes and procedures that pay particular attention to efficiency must be develop to ensure that the total organizational machinery runs smoothly. Processes and procedures need constant improvement in line with present and future requirements of the organization. Inefficient and irrelevant or outdated methods must be identified, eliminated or replaced while new ways of doing things must be incorporated. The need to keep in line with laws, regulations, trade agreements, international rules, etc., may also require the development of effective work processes and procedures.
To provide a satisfactory physical and mental working environment for the organizations employees.
Productive office workers will certainly contribute to the overall performance of the organization. And workers who are physically and mentally healthy are usually more productive than those who are not. A conducive working environment promotes positive job performance and it is necessary for the office manager to achieve the objective of such a conducive working environment. It must be remembered that the focus should not merely be on the physical well being of the workers but must also take into consideration their mental, emotional, and psychological health. Issues such as sexual harassment and equal opportunity for advancement are some of the issues that should also be high on the office managers priority list.
To help define duties and responsibilities of employees assigned within the administrative office management functional area.
To achieve organizational objectives, work must be done. But work cannot simply be given to anyone and everyone without taking into consideration the ability, talent, interest, and personal objectives of workers. Apart from defining what work is to be done to achieve goals, the office manager must also ensure that the work is given to the "right" person. When work and worker matches, more can be achieved.
To develop satisfactory lines of communication among employees within the administrative office management functional area and between these employees and employees in other areas within the organization.
The need to develop effective communication in any organization can never be overemphasized. In fact, communication can be considered as the foundation of effective work performance. It is crucial for office managers to develop formal lines of communication while at the same time is aware of the power of informal lines. Through effective communication, everyone knows what everyone is supposed to do and this will help in the achievement of common organizational goals. Communication is also important in motivating and controlling workers.
To help employees maintain a high level of work effectiveness.
Every employee has specific objectives to achieve. These objectives when taken as a whole will result in the attainment of the organizational overall goals, mission, and purpose. Every employee is a vital link in ensuring the success of the company; therefore, it is equally vital that each of these employees works to achieve his assigned responsibilities. The office manager must continuously keep employees motivated so as to ensure that every workers objective, not matter how small or trivial it may seem, is achieved in time and in the quantity as well as quality desired.
To enhance the effective supervision of office personnel.
The quality of workers job performance is related to the quality of supervision. Supervision does not mean continuously keeping a close watch on employees but encompasses a wider scope that include all five functions of management: planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling. Effective supervision includes getting workers to cooperate, listening to others, delegating responsibilities, understanding subordinates, treating others fairly, and building teams. Supervisory skills required include conceptual, human, technical, teaching, coaching, counseling, and communication skills.
To assure the efficient and proper use of specialized office equipment.
Every piece of office equipment has its own specific function or functions. Using the most appropriate tool to get work done is the fundamental of efficient use of technology. The office manager is responsible to acquire the right equipment, provides training on its usage, and making sure that it is used properly and responsibly. Specialized office equipment is usually very expensive, very high-tech, and requires specialized training to operate. If these machines are not used as they are intended, then the organization will simply not get returns from its investment. Security and control must also be high on the office managers priority list. With the advancement of Information and Communication Technology especially the Internet, it becomes even more necessary for the office manager to keep a close watch on the use of office ICT equipment to ensure that they are not being misused.
EVOLUTION OF MANAGEMENT THEORY
- Scientific Management Movement (late 1800s and early 1900s) Focus is on efficiency, production, and workers productivity.
- Frederick W. Taylor (1856 1915), founder of scientific management.
- Emphasis is placed on production.
- Any major problem could be resolved if management would scientifically determine and communicate to employees their expected output level.
- Designed to increase output of employees and improve operating efficiency of management.
- Taylor viewed workers as economic entity whose motivation to work stemmed from their financial needs.
- Taylor also believed that workers should produce more at lower cost, and they should be paid on a piecework basis.
- Taylors Philosophy.
- The development of a true science of management, so that, for example, the best method for performing each task could be determined.
- The scientific selection of the workers, so that each worker would be given responsibility for the task for which he or she was best suited.
- The scientific education and development of the workers.
- Intimate, friendly cooperation between management and labour.
- Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, also pioneers of scientific management.
- Develop time and motion studies.
- Time study is concerned with amount of time it takes to complete a task.
- Motion study is concerned with efficiency of the motion involved in performing the task.
- If the time to complete a task is shortened, coupled with a reduction in the number of motion involved in completing the task, then it is considered efficient (saves cost).
- Implemented by Taylor because it was consistent with his concern to increase efficiency and production.
- Need to identify one best way to do a job and to select and train employees carefully and thoroughly to perform their tasks.
- Management and employees need to cooperate to maximize production.
- Focus is on efficiency, output, and production.
- Weakness of scientific management?
- Emphasizes too much on the mechanical and physiological aspects of work.
- Workers psychological and social needs often neglected.
- Workers generally treated like "production machines" whose main function is to produce as much output at the least cost.
- Overlook the human desire for job satisfaction.
- Administrative Movement (1930s) also known as Classical Organizational Theory.
- Focus on the firm as a whole or total entity rather than on specific isolated functions.
- Management functions were identified: Planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling.
- Focus on coordinating and managing various organizational activities.
- Organization, not individual, is important.
- Henri Fayol (1841 1925) proponent of the administrative movement. Founder of Classical Organization Theory. The following is Fayols 14 principles of management.
- Division of labour (specialization of workers).
- Authority (managers be given the power to give orders and directives).
- Discipline (the need to respect rules and agreements).
- Unity of command (an employee should only report to one person)
- Unity of direction. (each department should have only one plan, hence one boss)
- Subordination of the individual interest to the general interest (interest of organization as a whole comes first).
- Remuneration (should be fair to both employee and employer)
- Centralization (managers have final say and responsibility)
- Scalar chain or hierarchy (line of authority must be clear often depicted by the organization chart)
- Order (materials and people must be at the right place at the right time. People should be in jobs or position most suited for them).
- Equity (managers should be both friendly and fair to their subordinates).
- Stability of tenure of personnel (stability of staff avoid high turnover rate).
- Initiative (subordinates should be given freedom to conceive and carry out their plans, even though some mistakes may result).
- Esprit de corps (promoting team spirit)
Fayol divided business operations into six activities, all of which were closely dependent on one another.
- Technical Producing and manufacturing products
- Commercial buying raw materials and selling products.
- Financial acquiring and suing capital.
- Security protecting employees and property.
- Accounting recording and taking stock of costs, profits, and liabilities, keeping balance sheets, and compiling statistics.
- Managerial planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, and controlling.
- Max Weber another administrative movement proponent.
- The need to have well-defined hierarchies.
- Employee task specialization.
- Written policies and procedures.
- Technical competence among employee.
- Separation of ownership and management.
- Weakness of Administrative Movement.
- More appropriate for the past than for the present. When organization were in a relatively stable and predictable environment it seemed valid. Today, with organizational environments becoming more turbulent, it seems less appropriate. For example, today better educated employees are less accepting of formal authority. Also today employees are more likely to leave an organization if they are dissatisfied.
- Too general for todays complex organization. For example, todays lines of authority are sometimes blurred.
- Human Relations Movement (1940s and 1950s)
- A response to the failure of organizations to treat employees in a humane manner.
- Concerned with individuals and groups rather than putting the whole organization as main concern.
- Focus on the human and social dimensions of work and on the relationship between superior and subordinate, particularly in terms of interpersonal relations and communication.
- Hawthorne Studies Found out that treating employees in a humane manner had a greater effect on operating efficiency and output than did any of the technical factors.
- Abraham Maslow (Hierarchy of Needs)
- Physiological (need for air, water, food)
- Security (need for safety, order, and freedom from fear or threat)
- Belongingness and love (or social needs)
- Esteem (self respect, self-esteem, achievement, and respect from others)
- Self actualization (need to grow to feel fulfilled, to realize ones potential).
- Douglas McGregor (Theory X and Theory Y)
- Frederick Herzberg (Motivation-Hygiene Theory).
- Modern Movement (early 1950s till today)
- Consists of two approaches:
- quantitative approach (also known as operations approach). Operations Approach is concerned primarily with the making of decisions, especially decisions about which operations should be undertaken and about how they should be carried out.
- Qualitative approach (also known as behavioral sciences approach). This is the scientific study of observable and veriable human behaviour. The effects of behavioral sciences can be observed at the individual, group, and organizational levels. The individual level is concerned with such factors as motivation, attitudes, and personality. The group level is concerned with interactions interrelations, group norms, and group leadership. The organizational level is concerned with such areas as bureaucracy and the effect of the systems design on employee behaviour.
- The behavioral sciences approach is concerned with the manner in which decisions are made whereas the operations approach is concerned with the way they ought to be made. The behavioral sciences approach uses psychology, sociology, and anthropology as its base, whereas the operations approach is more concerned with mathematics, computer science, and statistical applications.
SSC351 ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE MANAGEMENT
Administrative Office Systems (AOS)
- System A set of related elements that are linked together according to a plan for achieving a specific objective. All systems share the basic features specified in this definition; each system depends on the proper operation of all its elements in order to perform satisfactorily its assigned tasks. (Refer to pages 499 and 500, Keeling & Kallaus).
- A system is a series of subsystems comprised of interrelated procedures that help achieve a well-defined goal. While procedures consist of related methods necessary to complete various work processes, methods consists of specific clerical or mechanical operations or activities. (Refer to Figure 17-1, page 334, Quible).
- In the operation of each department, the manager develops a number of procedures for completing the work. A procedure is a planned sequence of operations for handling recurring transactions uniformly and consistently. For each step within the procedure, there is a method for accomplishing that phase of the work. A method represents a manual, mechanical, or electronic means by which each procedural step I performed. (Refer to Pages 500 and 501, including Figure 15-1, Keeling & Kallaus).
- The information function is carried out through the Administrative Office System. This specialized system is responsible for planning, organizing, leading, operating, and controlling all phases of the information cycle in order to fulfill the systems objective.
- The objective of the Administrative Office System is to provide appropriate information for managements use in making decisions.
- The objectives for developing and using systems vary from organization to organization. The following, however, identify the major objectives of using the systems concept.
- To maximize the efficient use of the organizational resources.
- To control operating costs.
- To improve operating efficiency.
- To help achieve the objectives of the organization.
- To help carry out the various functions of the organization.
(Refer to Page 334, Quible).
In a practical sense, the personnel responsible for the systems function are expected to attain this broad organizational goal: to take whatever steps are necessary and reasonable to plan, design, and operate systems that result in the highest possible level productivity at the least possible cost.
- Objective of Administrative Office Systems are as follows:
- Furnishing the best information to the right people at an appropriate time, at the least cost, and in the right amount so improved decision-making results.
- Eliminating the duplication of work.
- Mechanizing (or automating) the repetitive, routine tasks where possible when automatic equipment will do the work more quickly, more accurately, more economically, and more reliably. Such a system should be as flexible as possible to meet the users present requirements and still be able to accommodate changes in future requirements without the need for major system revisions.
- Establishing an efficient, uniform procedure to follow for each similar transaction. When such procedures are based upon a standard time allowance for identical manual and machine operations, wasted motion, errors, and delays in the smooth flow of work are eliminated or reduced.
- Fixing responsibility for satisfactory work performance.
- Providing adequate training for employees and supervisors to assure top-level work performance.
- Receiving the acceptance and support of all systems users.
(Refer page 502, Keeling & Kallaus).
- Elements of systems Systems are comprised of several elements: input, processing, and output, as well as two related elements Feedback and controlling. Each element plays an integral role in moving work through the system. (Refer to Pages 335 and 336, Quible. Please relate these elements to the Basic Systems Model (Figure 19-3, Page 504, Keeling & Kallaus).
- The major administrative functions of business involve purchasing, sales, production, finance, accounting, and personnel. In addition, there is usually a separate administrative function that handles the general-office services. Even so, each of the major-function departments may have added to its regular responsibilities a certain amount of administrative operations so that each department maneger is in effect a type of office manager.
- Basic Systems Model A model represents an ideal form of operation. A model explains in simplified, general form the complex operations of an organization or its parts. Thus, the model is free of the many details that would prevent an easy understanding of the total or overall system. A basic systems model is used to represent a general explanation of the system (or any of its subsystems) to which more concrete details can be added as needed. (Refer to Figure 19-3, Page 504, Keeling & Kallaus).
- Please Refer to Figure 19-3, Page 504, Keeling & Kallaus. The figure describes the principal phases of an administrative system arranged in the chronological order in which each phase functions.
- Input is the first phase of any system in which data, energy, or information are received from another system. Examples of input are raw materials introduced into a manufacturing operation, the arrival of the morning mail, or telephone calls into the office. Output is the ultimate objective of a system that which results after the input has been changed in some way during the second phase process. The process phase adds value to the input, which makes it more useful to the firm. Classifying, sorting, storing, retrieving, and computing are common processing activities. Up to this point, however, the systems model is not complete or reliable for it lacks a regulating force Feedback. Feedback seeks to compare the systems output (what was produced) with the standards of performance set for the system (what was expected to be produced). Thus, if the actual output levels are found to be lower than the levels desired, a message is fed back to the input phase of the system specifying how much the next operating cycle of the system must be modified in order to attain its objectives. Within the system is control (illustrated by policies, plans, p procedures, programs and standards of performance) that dictates what can and cannot be done in each of the phases of the firms system.
- Outside the firm (that is, outside the dotted lines shown in Figure 19-3) is the systems environment that sets up controls which affect the operation of the firm. Governmental (legal) regulations on taxes, working conditions, and labour relations, as well as the economic, political, social transportation, educational, and ethical systems in existence, impose controls that affect the behaviour of any firm and the people within in.
(Please refer to Figure 19-4, Page 506, Keeling & Kallaus for more Common Systems examples)