• Human Relations is the skill or ability to work effectively through and with other people. It includes a desire to understand others, their needs and weaknesses and their talents and abilities. In a workplace setting, it also involves an understanding how people work together in groups, satisfying both individual needs and group objectives.  If an organization is to succeed, the relationships among people in that organization must be monitored and maintained.
  • It is important to get along with and work with people of all or different backgrounds, races, religious and ethnic groups as it is essential if a person wants to thrive and survive in today’s workplace.  An employee is expected to get along with all of their co-workers and their managers of supervisor.
  • As a secretary your work is based to a very large extent on human relations. Nearly every task you perform involves you with people at some stage – your boss, your colleagues, junior staff, your boss’s colleagues or the general public.
  • This aspect of your work requires very special personal qualities such as tact, sympathy, tolerance, genuine liking for people and the desire to help them.
  • Your relationship with people will be much easier if you understand the reaction of human beings to various situations which arise in the course of a normal business day.
  • You must realize that people are individual with their own characters, likes and dislikes foibles and idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses. Treat people as individuals, recognize them and given them the opportunity to express their individuality.
  • Organizations are made up of individuals and it is the relationships which exist between these individuals which contribute substantially to the success of an organization and to the quality of the working environment.
  • Coping effectively with human relationships is a very important aspect of any secretary’s work



  1. Honesty – a worker should be truthful in all his undertakings in order to be trusted
  2. Efficiency – he should carry out the duties assigned to him accurately and complete them within the time scheduled.
  3. Courtesy – he should respect other workers and their sensitivities.
  4. Helpfulness – he should be available and willing to assist when the need arises
  5. Groomed and attractive appearance – your appearance should be presentable to create a favorable impression , for example, wear simple clothes in appealing colours and contemporary fashion, have a cared-for complexion, well manicured hands, polished shoes in good repair, neat and tidy hair – all contribute to a groomed and attractive appearance.
  6. Co-operation – accept responsibility on any job which falls in your line of specialization.
  7. Loyalty – he should be obedient and faithful and safe guarding any confidential information of an organization
  8. Tact – communicate well with people in all levels and make them understand the reasons you give
  9. Flexibility – be able to adapt to any changes that may occur in the place of work
  10. Impartial – try not to show favoritism in front of others and be fair to everyone
  11. Friendliness – treat your work colleagues like you would want to be treated and re-storing relationships that have been damaged for whatever reason.
  12. Tolerance – be able to deal with working under supervisors and managers that are difficult to deal with and handle work place disagreements when they arise.



  1. Providing job security to employees by employing them on permanent and pensionable basis or signing of long contracts.
  2. Providing meaningful and challenging job.
  3. Proving scope for opportunity and advancement through, for example, promotion, training and development programmes.
  4. Maintaining open communication channels particularly upward communication. Employee handbooks, grievance procedures, suggestion schemes, etc enable management to understand the feelings, problems, fears and aspirations of employees.
  5. Providing adaptive leadership, that is, the leader should adapt his approach to the requirements of the situation. In order to develop healthy human relations, managers should carefully understand the employees and handle them with sympathy.  They should uphold the dignity of the individual.
  6. Issuing clear instructions to employees
  7. Reducing and minimizing interpersonal and intergroup conflicts. Identify the needs of both parties to the conflict and handle the situation so as to satisfy the interests of both.
  8. Offering rewards.
  9. Offering personal counseling to solve problems faced by workers by listening to them to reduce worker’s tension and improves their self confidence. The employee feels at home on the four walls of the factors or office.
  10. Offering praise, appreciation and word of thanks when due
  11. Delegate authority so that employees feel they have personal responsibility for the accomplishment of tasks.
  12. Encourage employee participation in decision making, provision of a job description
  13. Provision of staff welfare facilities e.g. staff canteen, vacations or holidays, indoor games, TVs, radios, transport to and from work, workers cooperativeness, rest room, lavatories/toilets, etc.


  1. Increased productivity by the workers which pays financial dividends to the organizations.
  2. Ensures employee retention in the job, therefore, avoiding high labour turnover which is financially costly to the organization in terms of recruitment and training new workers.
  3. Employees are human beings like managers and owners and are entitled to be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other human being.
  4. It increases morale and motivation of the workers so that they have a positive attitude towards one another, their employer, management and work.
  5. Establishes a harmonious working relationship amongst workers enabling a worker to fit well in the organization and have a sense of belonging.
  6. Leads to development of personal morals by workers.
  7. Increase job satisfaction which gives workers greater interest and pride in their work.



  1. Each must view the other as a professional and recognize the interdependence of roles
  2. Each must accept that the other has his/her own objectives regarding work
  3. Each must respect the other as an individual and not as an extension of him/herself
  4. There should be a working partnership not a competition
  5. Of necessity one – the secretary – must take the role of junior partner
  6. The junior partner should, however, be ‘groomed’ as a stand-in and consequently should have the confidence to act in the boss’s place where necessary
  7. Involvement in all aspects of the work pays dividends. The secretary may, provided she is given the opportunity, be able to make a contribution to the wider aspects of the job and so relieve a lot of pressure
  8. Define areas and boundaries of responsibility closely so that there is no confusion and consequent time wasting
  9. Allow time for planning and consultation – even if it means building it into the daily schedule
  10. Always bring problems into the open. Don’t brood over them and create an atmosphere
  11. Listen to the other’s point of view in order to clarify and solve problems
  12. Maintain a sense of humour by establishing a harmonious working relationship and a mutual liking
  13. Learn to apologize gracefully
  14. Learn to accept constructive criticism with suggestions for improvements
  15. Accept compliments with gratitude
  16. Try to establish an air of positive cooperation and tolerance
  17. Try to view the other as a valued colleague rather than a superior/subordinate
  18. Always find a little time to engage in small talk, particularly at the beginning of the day
  19. Try to discover what makes the other tick
  20. A secretary should act as a representative of her boss by handling queries or situations as though he was there
  21. She acts as a link and barrier between her boss and those outside the office by appraising people and situations
  22. Reminds her boss of his appointments, renewal of driving licenses or passport, holiday arrangements or private dinner invitations etc
  23. Shows loyalty to the boss, his work, and policies of the organization


THE SECRETARY AND HER SUPERIORS, THAT IS, COLLEAGUES of her boss or with her boss’s superiors

  1. Treat them with respect
  2. Be willing to help
  3. Seek permission of her own immediate superior before she undertakes work for someone else



  1. Work as a team
  2. Avoid conflicts – treat others as you would like them to treat you
  3. Offer advice and assistance when called up
  4. Solve and share common problems that arise at work


THE SECRETARY AND HER SUBORDINATES, that is, those who occupy a lower status role

  1. Treat your subordinates as you would like your boss to treat you
  2. When delegating work, give precise and clear instructions and make sure it is understood
  3. Offer constructive criticism aimed at enabling the junior improve his work and criticisms should be private
  4. Offer a word of praise for word well done publicly
  5. Maintain standards, which are worthy of emulation
  6. Establish a good working relationship/rapport
  7. Training on the job through explanation, demonstration and supervision
  8. Giving more responsibility as they prove themselves ready to undertake it
  9. Being fair to everyone
  10. Supporting them when they are right
  11. Helping them with work or private problems
  12. Finding out if one is ill or has an accident so as to tell your boss and make enquiries on his behalf
  13. Keeping all employees informed of matters which affect them or their work
  14. Respecting each one as an individual contributing his fair share to the effort of the team as a whole
  15. Appreciation for extra help given
  16. Show courtesy and consideration
  17. Newcomers require a thorough induction – introduce him to his colleagues, explain his working relationship with them and the scope of his work



A secretary may work for more than one executive/boss.  Improved equipment and systems relieve much of the repetitive routine work, so releasing secretaries to perform more managerial support functions

There is justification for organizations adopting time-sharing secretarial services on the grounds of economy.



  1. Treat executives as individuals and try to establish a working rapport with each
  2. Develop an interest in the activities of each executive
  3. Develop your own secretarial role and skills where necessary
  4. Modify your style to fit in with each executive. This necessitates an extremely flexible approach but should add to the challenge of your job, whilst enabling each executive to retain his unique style.
  5. Establish an informal relationship with each executive so that you may iron out any problems and plan in an atmosphere of cooperation
  6. Be sure to treat each executive’s work as confidential
  7. Show no favouritism
  8. Do not play one executive off against another
  9. Ignore their own superior/subordinate relationships. This can result in conflicting loyalties
  10. Discourage any jealousy or attempts at priority claims on your secretarial services
  11. Take care in coordinating the diaries
  12. Try to be one jump ahead at all times


It takes longer and is more demanding to become accustomed to working for more than one boss and will often take every ounce of a secretary’s energy, imagination and human relations skills to meet the requirements set by different executives and to treat each fairly.



Public relations is a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between the organization and different members of the public also called the target audience.

It means the efforts made by an organization to bring itself into the eye and mind of the public.  This involves creating an image which is devised to attract the particular section or sections of the public with whom the organization has, or wished to have dealings.  For example, for schools the target audience would be students and their parents/guardians, for retailers the target would be customers, etc.

Public relations aim at building:

  • Relationships
  • Reputation
  • Awareness
  • Trust
  • Acceptance
  • Action

in order to earn credibility and authencity.

Public perception about a company is vital for its success and survival.

Many organizations have on their staff a public relations officer.  He must create and maintain a positive public image for his/her organization, spread it and adapt it he necessary.

The good public relations officer (PRO) knows every aspect of his own organization, what it stands for, what its aims are, what it does and how it functions.  It is his job to broadcast this image in the most appropriate ways and selecting the most suitable media.



  1. A Public Relations Manager is responsible for overseeing external communications at companies, non-profits, government entities, and other organizations
  2. Depending upon the organization this person might be called an External Communications Manager, a Media Relations Manager, a Public Affairs Manager or a Press Manager or a Press Secretary whatever the title, the main objective of someone in this position is to try and ensure a positive public image for his/her organization. To do this, he or she seeks to build good relationship with interest groups that may include the media, investors, government officials, the local community and others.
  3. As Senior Public Relations (PR) professionals, public relations manager advise top company leaders about the best ways to promote their organizations. They typically report to communications directors or similarly titled positions.  PR Managers may oversee employees in media relations, employee communications, and other communications areas.  These employees are often called public relations specialist or communication specialists.
  4. In addition to overseeing full-time employees, the public relations manager might hire and manage freelance copy writers, graphic designers, and others. He or she will also typically manage the public relations department budget.  Some of the responsibilities  of this job and other PR staff members are to field media questions and pitch stories to the media, prepare media kits and organize press conferences.  Public relations professionals also release information to counter negative publicity and handle crises and emergency communications
  5. Writing and editing copy is also a focus of PR managers. They create speeches for organizational leaders, write internet and prepare articles for corporate newsletters.
  6. Developing advertising and marketing communications material may also fall under the umbrella of this job managers may be responsible for creating it themselves or for working with advertising agencies and marketing professionals to develop advertising/marketing communication material
  7. Four year degrees or higher in communications public relations, journalism, or related fields are typical of people working in the public relations profession. Many public relations students complete internships to gain experience and contacts in the profession.  Certification in public relations is available through professional organizations and can be especially beneficial to someone seeking to become a manager in the field
  8. Good writing and communication skills are usually essential for the job of public relations
  9. A flexible, positive and outgoing personality is helpful to work in the dynamic and sometimes stressful public relations environment.
  10. Other characteristics of successful PR professionals include: creativity, good problem solving, decision making skills, ability to think strategically



SECRETARY AS PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER – A secretary is in daily contact with the public and it is her job to see that her relations with everybody are right.  An efficient and courteous service develops good relations with the public.



  1. Give accurate information about the organization
  2. Be polite and pleasant when communicating with members of the public
  3. Handle enquiries, correspondence etc promptly with a sense of urgency and concern
  4. Dress neatly and be clean
  5. Project a good image of the organization to the public by being loyal
  6. Give suggestions for improvement of the organization through established channels of communication.



  1. Sponsoring social events e.g. sports, charitable walks, donations, visiting the needy
  2. Business entertainment – invite customers and associates during launching of new products
  3. Making sure the speeches read by the executive in public are well written and read. They should reflect positively.
  4. High quality material e.g. magazines, brochures, catalogues, letters etc. should be used even packing materials
  5. Media – scrutinize all information being given to the media and counter accusations promptly and accurately.
  6. High caliber workers who reflect positively about the organization should be employed
  7. Awards for exemplary service and good remuneration should be offered
  8. Front office/reception should be manned by a qualified receptionist with pleasant personality
  9. Holding press conferences to announce major policy decisions and answer questions from reporters and news agencies in order to engage the news media and the public on organization matters.
  10. Choosing the most suitable medium of advertising which reflects the company’s image.
  11. Planning and organizing conferences appropriately. Conferences could include conventions, lectures, workshops or in-company training courses.
  12. Issuing press releases about the policies and activities of the organization.



  1. To manage reputation and a positive image by communicating and building good relationship with all organization stakeholders.
  2. To protect and enhance the good will of an organization (goodwill is the cash value of a firms good name)
  3. To earn public understanding and acceptance
  4. To counter negative publicity and handle crisis and emergency communications when they arise e.g. scandals, actions of activist organizations, health and safety concerns and accidents.
  5. To communication information on an organization’s activities, products and services offered.
  6. To create a consumer base that is a basic step in reaching a larger market
  7. To engage with news media and the public on organizational matters so as to monitor public comment about the organization to give Public Relations professionals an early warning of any emergency trends or problems.
  8. To mange control or influence people’s perceptions about an organization which is vital for the survival and success of an organization.




One very well-known theory of needs was presented by Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist. Maslow believed that human needs could be place in five categories.

A need is a condition or lack or default of something required, which the organization finds necessary to satisfy in order to maintain its existing balance.

Physiological needs

These are needs required to sustain life, for example, air, water, food, sleep, clothing, shelter and sex.

In order to meet these needs the organization should provide good pay to purchase the essentials of life, lunch breaks/meals, rest breaks, houses and transport.

Safety needs

This is the need to be free from the threat of physical, psychological, emotional harm/danger.

The need for economical security against unemployment, theft, old age, sickness and disability, needs for physical safety, protection against murder, fire, accident. Etc.

Such needs might be fulfilled by:

  • Living in a safe area – provide a safe working environment
  • Medical insurance/medical care/cover
  • Job security/permanent job
  • Pension plans/retirement benefits/provision for old age/insurance against risk
  • Insurance plans
  • Safe and healthy working conditions
  • Do not subject workers to psychological harassment
  • Grievance system
  • Security of source of income.


Social needs

Are related to interaction with other people.  Sociability, exchange of feelings and grievances, companionship, interested in conversation, need for belonging, feed for friends/friendship, need to give and receive love, need for association, need for acceptance and affection, need for recognition.

The organization should create a sense of community via team-based projects, social events or social gatherings, e.g. house parties, charity fetes, recreational facilities, encouraging formation of work groups, membership of social organizations e.g. golf clubs, friendly interpersonal relationships, having canteen lunch where staff and workers take their meals.

Esteem needs

Needs concerned with prestige and status of the individual.

May be classified as internal or external

Internal esteem needs are those related to self-esteem such as self-respect and achievement.

External esteem needs are those such as social status and recognition

Some needs are:

  • Self-respect and recognition from others
  • Need for personal feelings of accomplishment and self-worth
  • Need for self-confidence, independence, achievement, competence, knowledge and success
  • Need for attention, reputation, appreciation

The organization can meet these needs by recognizing achievements to make employees feel appreciated and valued, offer job titles and convey the importance of the position, provide employees with more important responsibilities and other external status symbol, for example, big and good office, company house, company car, etc.


Self-actualization needs

This is the quest of reaching one’s full potential as a person.  The need to become all that one is capable of becoming to realize one’s potential.  They are desires for growth, creativity and constructive accomplishment.  Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied; as one grows psychologically there are always new opportunities to continue to grow.

Self-actualized people tend to have needs such as:

  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Wisdom
  • Meaning

Self-actualized persons have frequent occurrences of peak experience which are energized moments of profound happiness or harmony.  According to Maslow, only a small percentage of the population reaches the level of self actualization.

An organization can provide employees with a challenge and the opportunity to reach their full career potential.  Promote people on merit, place people in the managerial and supervisory grade.

NB: As basic or lower-level needs are satisfied, higher-level needs become operative.  A satisfied need is not a motivation.  The most powerful employee need is the one that has not been satisfied.  To motivate an employee the manager must be able to recognize the needs level at which the employee is operating and use those needs as levels of motivation.



An individual’s unsatisfied needs may trigger defense mechanisms behavior by the individual.

Defense mechanisms triggered due to unsatisfied individual needs


These are feelings developed within an individual if he or she is unable to achieve his objectives due to blockage by obstacles.


Physical or verbal attack on some person or object, for example, striking a supervisor, rage or abusive language, destruction of equipment or documents and malicious gossip about a supervisor.  This form of behavior may be directed against the person or object which is perceived as the source of frustration that, is, the actual barrier or blocking agent.


Reverting to childish or more primitive form of behavior, for example, crying, tantrums or kicking a broken machine or piece of equipment.


Persisting in a form of behavior which has no adaptive value and continuing to repeat actions which have no positive results, for example, the inability to accept change or new ideas, repeatedly trying a machine which clearly will not work, insisting on applying for promotion even though not qualified for the job.


An individual projects blame for his or her own failures or inabilities on other objects or persons.


This is manifested through indifference, inactivity, inattentiveness and a general don’t care attitude.


This is simply withdrawing from the situation.


Sometimes individuals redefine situation by inventing plausible reasons for being unable to attain their goals.


Austin or autistic thinking refers to thinking that is almost completely dominated by needs and emotions with little effort made related to reality.


This is subconsciously identifying with other persons or situations that an individual considers relevant.


This is repressing the unsatisfied need.



  1. Outline six ways in which a secretary in the public relations office could create good relations with the public.
  2. As a senior secretary in your department, outline six leadership qualities that enhance your working relationship with support staff (9marks)
  3. Explain four ways in which a chemical manufacturing firm could improve public relations with its customers (8 marks)
  4. Explain six causes of poor human relations in an office (9 marks)
  5. One way of maximizing secretarial work force is to assign one secretary to more than one executive. Explain five ways in which secretary in such a situation can serve the executives effectively. (10 marks)



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