system managers


By Gillian Callison

Published November 10th, 2017


What does that mean, really? A quick look at a thesaurus show the following synonyms: methods, procedures, structures, mechanisms - you can see where this is going.

I deal in systems. Office systems to be precise. Many would not think these exist, but they are oh-so-important for any office space to function effectively and efficiently. How many businesses, non-profits, volunteer organizations, even groups of people gathering for the same purpose do you know of that don't have an office or, at the least, office-like needs? Please share if you can think of one.

My point here is that the office is ever present and having established systems, or hiring someone to establish systems, is vital to its smooth operation.

Enter the Secretary

Years ago, secretaries were the keepers of these elusive office systems. They ran things, were the source of details on how the business operated, the communication tool that connected the leaders with everyone else, and generally made sure things got done. The undervaluing of secretaries by pay and/or recognition has been going on for years. As shown when computers came on the scene, and everyone believed it was the death of the secretary role.

Fueling this belief was a lack of comprehension of the scope of what the secretary accomplished. Computers became fixtures in the offices of the leaders. Now they were responsible for their own correspondence, their own schedule, and a volume of other tasks specific to their industry now more easily accomplished with a computer. Leaders embraced their new duties, but the secretary did not die. Many menial tasks still existed. These tasks became the new duties of the person in the front office. Many offices diluted the role of secretary even more as the tasks, considered do-able by anyone without the need for higher education, training or specific skills, were added to their routine duties.

Class Systems

Then the secretary pool started to segregate themselves in classes delineating different skills sets to warrant higher pay and recognition at different levels. From the receptionist to office manager to executive assistant, regardless of the title, the roles were largely the same.

Many industry leaders will be the first to claim they couldn't do their job without their secretary. Customers, vendors, and clients will claim that "they know who really runs the business" with a conspiratorial nod to the secretary. These small instances of recognition and appreciation are a start. The financial compensation, which our society has defined as the measure of worth and contribution, lags behind.

Whoever the secretary is in your life, make sure they feel valued and appreciated for all they do.