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SECRETARIES: THE WASTED ASSET.




 

Too many British mana­gers cannot manage their own secretaries. That is the opinion of Juliet Hepburn, who began as a secretary and is now a lead­er of a campaign to maximise the use of a much under­rated group of employees. The campaign is being run by the Industrial Society - an organisation with 16,000 mem­bers, including trade unions - which aims to increase the pro­ductivity and profitability of British businesses. It seems unreasonable to waste the time and ta­lents of so many secretaries by limiting their duties to the traditional typing and tea-making activities.

Among the most popular of the 2,000 courses and confer­ences arranged each year by the society is one called «Helping Your Manager». Four years ago, when it began as a two-day course for secretaries and bosses, the project almost failed, for the simple reason that bosses were not willing «to waste two whole days».

But once a secretary who participated in the two-day course for secretaries, brought in the managers at lunchtime on the second day, and after that things began moving. Now the society runs a dozen of such courses in London and through­out the country, and has had to double its advisory staff to cope with the extra work.

The doubts of its spon­sors if there was the need for such a course were soon disappeared. Shock-horror tales of bad office prac­tice began to emerge like copies from a duplicator and often they were as repeti­tious.

There were the bosses who came to the courses with their secretaries, but they refused to tell the details of their day's programme, or even their whereabouts. A common source of fric­tion was the morning mail. There was one boss who in­sisted that when he was on holiday his letters should be forwarded to him, and another who would not allow his secretary to open his letters even when he was at work. After taking this course, he agreed that this might be unreasonable, but a follow-up inquiry from the society revealed that he was allowing his secretary to open the letters, but only in his office and under his beady eye. Progress can sometimes be slow.

A senior secretary in a law firm, who had opened every­one's mail since the days when the total staff was two partners and herself, continued to do so when they had expanded to employ 50 secretaries. The result was that the morning mail never arrived on desks before 3p.m.



On a more personal level Mrs Hepburn and her col­leagues have been shocked by the number of managers who do not make time to talk to their secretaries on a regular basis.

Even when some enterpris­ing girl makes her own appointment in the diary, that is always the one that is cancel­led because of pressure of work. Small wonder that the turnover of secretaries in some companies is 60 per cent in a year.

«All you need to avoid this waste is to invest a little time in motivating secretaries to realise that they are part of the management structure,» Mrs Hepbum insists. At the course secretaries are questioned first of all about their perceptions of themselves. 'Too many think of themselves as only a secret­ary - an adjunct to, rather than a part of, the management team,» says Mrs Hepburn.

Next the secretaries are en­couraged to use their initia­tive, to anticipate problems rather than to sit at their desks doing nothing. There is talk about office administra­tion - making appointments, controlling a diary and evolving a systemfor keeping track of earlier decisions.



The importance of communicating - through letter writing, the telephone, face-to-face meetings - emphasised. «An awful lot secretaries would never shake hands with a visitor,» Mrs Hepburn says. When the bosses join the course during an informal lunch on the second day, their reactions never vary. 'They walk straight up to their secretaries and ask, with embarrassed grin: "What have you been saying about me?

 

Vocabulary.

waste - терять понапрасну

asset - актив

manage - управлять, руководить

opinion - мнение

campaign - кампания

under­rated - недооцениваемый

employee - сотрудник, работник

run* - руководить, проводить

trade union - профсоюз

aim - иметь целью

increase - увеличивать

profitability - прибыльность

businesses -мн.ч.: фирмы

unreasonable - неразумный

type - печатать на машинке

arrange - организовать, устроить

fail - проваливаться, не удаваться

bring* in - привести

dozen - дюжина

through­out the country - по всей стране

double - удвоить

advisory staff - консультанты

cope with - справляться с

extra - дополнительный

doubt - сомнение

need (for) - необходимость (в)

disappear - исчезать

tale - история

emerge - появляться, возникать

repeti­tious - повторяющийся

refuse - отказываться

details - мн.ч.: подробности

whereabouts - координаты

common - обычный

source - источник

fric­tion - трение

in­sist - настаивать

forward - переправлять, передавать

allow - позволять

unreasonable - неразумно

follow-up - последующий

inquiry - опрос



reveal - открыть, обнаружить

beady eye - бдительный взгляд

expand - расширять(ся)

employ - принять на работу

level - уровень

enterpris­ing - предприимчивый

make* an appointment - назначить встречу

diary - дневник, книжка-календарь

cancel­ - отменять

turnover - сменяемость

avoid - избегать

invest - вклажывать

motivate - заинтересовать

realise - понимать

insist - настаивать

perception - воспринимать

adjunct (to) - приложение

en­courage - поощрять

anticipate - предвидеть

rather than - а не

evolve - развивать

keep* track (of) - вести запись

communicating - общение

shake hands (with) - пожимать руки

join - присоединяться

informal - неофициальный

vary - различаться

embarrass - приводить в замешательство

grin - усмешка

 

Comprehension Check.

Ex. Answer the following questions:

1. Why was the two-day course "Helping your manager" a failure

2. when it was conducted for the first time?

3. What happened to make the course successful?

4. How is it suggested that managers should improve the use of their secretaries?

5. How can secretaries help themselves?

 

 

Topics to discuss.

1. Traditional secretaries' duties.

2. "Helping your manager" courses.

3. Secretary as a part of managers' team.

4. Men's reaction to having a woman as a boss.

 


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