Ten Ways an Executive Can Benefit from His Secretary

by Nimia Acebes on October 29, 2009

The secretary can make or break the executive.  If utilized effectively, the secretary can double the efficiency of the executive.


A secretary discussing a document with a staff

The secretary  does not head a department, division, section or unit but he or she is vitally necessary to run the immediate office of the executive.  He or she serves as the hands and feet of the executive.

With the vital role a secretary plays for the executive, he or she must be hand-picked by the executive.  It’s necessary that this important person be carefully selected, trained and utilized by the executive.

In his book, How Managers Make Things Happen, George S. Odiorne says on the selection of a secretary:

The first step is to identify what kind of manager you are yourself.  Then you can describe what qualifications your secretary should have, or what work habits he or she should develop to get you further along in personal productivity.

Let’s assume that you are, by nature, a detail-lover. You love checking the minutiae of the work of your department.  Your secretary should then have the soul of an FBI agent when it comes to patiently seeking out and obtaining information you’ll want for your decision-making processes….”

Regional Directors, like me, of the Philippine Postal Corporation are reassigned from region to region, when our Postmaster General finds it necessary, in the exigency of the service.

When we assume office at another region, we inherit the secretary of our predecessor.  The secretary of the postal region is holding the position of an Executive Assistant.

Since Regional Directors have different management and leadership styles, adjusting and training the inherited secretary to our style is really a great challenge.  It needs a lot of understanding, patience and perseverance.

After a total of almost two decades of handling a division, a department and three postal regional offices, I have listed down the ways an executive can benefit from his or her secretary, so that he or she (executive) can efficiently do the fundamental function of planning and decision-making and enhance further his or her conceptual skill.

Here are the ways a secretary can effectively assist the executive:

1.  On Handling the Mail and Paperwork

  • Opens and sorts incoming mail.  Mail which do not require decision shall be immediately endorsed to offices concerned.
  • Handles and analyzes  “IN” basket items.  Items that could not be handled with confidence could be carefully organized, prioritized, and brought to the executive with a recommendation or a note or a previous communication on the issue which serves as a guide to the executive on the action to be taken on the item.
  • Handles routine inquiries.
  • Reviews communications, reports and other documents which require signature of the executive.

2.   On Handling Telephone Calls

  • Screen and ask all callers of the executive for their names and the nature of their business.
  • Collects information the executive needs for call-backs.
  • Makes calls on  behalf of the executive.

3.  On Screening

  • Screens drop-in visitors, directing them elsewhere or setting up definite appointments for them.
  • Protects the executive’s  private time from interruption.
  • Deals with many drop-in visitors on her own, giving feedback to the executive.
  • Puts files or relevant documents on the executive’s desk before scheduled appointments.
  • Greets visitors; escorts them to the executive’s  office.
  • Calls to remind the executive of “another task” if guests stay past time.

4.  On Calendar work

  • Compares the executive’s calendar with his or hers daily.
  • Knows where to reach the executive at all times.
  • Makes appointments for the executive in coordination with each other.
  • Maintains tickler file.

5.  On Filing

  • Files at least once a week.
  • Adopts system for easy retrieval of files.
  • Maintains records-retention plan.

6.  On Reading

  • Marks articles and relevant sections of long reports for the executive’s attention.
  • Summarizes main points of articles and reports.

7.  On Meetings

  • Sits in to take notes.
  • Tracks assignments and makes sure that they are fulfilled.
  • May attend meetings as the executive’s representative.

8.  On Feedbacks

  • Keeps the executive updated on issues and concerns affecting the office.
  • Monitors actions taken by the staff on documents and instructions from the executive.

9.  On Office Supervision

  • Keeps track of, and orders office supplies.
  • Schedules servicing for equipment.
  • Sees to it that executive’s office is clean and orderly

10.  On Other Services

  • Makes travel arrangements/reservations.
  • Makes itinerary of travel for the executive.
  • Organizes office functions: conferences, luncheons, etc.
  • Monitors executive’s  time; i.e., makes sure he or she follows through on daily appointments.
  • Takes on independent projects.

Do you have any other ways to add to this list?  If you have, I am inviting you to leave your comments after reading this post and add your thoughts .

Your friend,

Nimia Acebes

{ 1 trackback }

uberVU - social comments
October 31, 2009 at 8:48 am

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Hermosisima October 31, 2009 at 4:42 am

One’s executive secretary can be your Personal-Overall Assistant,TimeManager,Multitask/Executive Organizer,Trainor/Diet Consultant,PRelations Manager,Confidential Journalist & Caretaker of Most Critical Secrets in the Corporate body.


Nimia Acebes October 31, 2009 at 4:45 am

Thanks for your inputs Steve. These make the secretary a very important person to the executive.


Prathap G November 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm

The write-up on Ten ways ….. is very educative for all executives. Unfortunately, some of the executives of the day act and behave in an alien fashion for reasons only best known to them and to their peril. What happens then is that the Secretary takes over.


Nimia Acebes November 3, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Hi Prathap! Thank you very much for your comments. It’s true and it’s happening in some workplace.


b er November 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm

the inputs are nice and applicable.


Nimia Acebes November 4, 2009 at 2:05 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciative comments Ber. We miss a nice person like you.


DR. AMELITA P. GIVERTZ November 4, 2009 at 6:49 am


I was amazed the multi task of the executive secretary. Do you think they can still have patience all the time especially if the superior is very strick. But anyways if the pay is good the work is right!!!!


Nimia Acebes November 4, 2009 at 8:02 am

Hi Dr. Givertz! Thanks for your comments. With this, secretaries must be properly compensated.


mary November 10, 2009 at 2:58 pm

hello mam, Very good ideas and inputs to all EA and secretary like me.


naomi November 23, 2009 at 3:32 am

if i were a secretary, i don’t know if i would be able to perform these enumerated critical tasks 🙂


Nimia Acebes November 23, 2009 at 3:45 am

You can do these tasks naomi.


Leave a Comment