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Organizational Management

Getting organized and staying organized is both an art and a science. Everyone has their own personal style and individual set of work circumstances to address. The art and a science of this means that you can learn many tips from fellow workers, books, workshops and so on, and with practice you will find the art of getting it together means you will find your own personal way to make it easier. Take advantage of the opportunities out there to learn more about how to be organized and in turn, more efficient and effective. For the purpose of getting started in your new job, we will use the following definition for Personal and Organizational Management:

The skill of conducting oneself professionally, and handling the work environment, time, resources and expenditures efficiently to accomplish the purpose of the organization.

The NDSU Extension website has a number of resources available to address a variety of organizational and personal management needs. The For Employees page is a great place to bookmark on your computer and review for resources.

At times you will have a specific need that these sites will address: "What's the policy for use of the Extension Logo?" Go to For Employees.  

Other times you may want to reflect on all the components of Personal or Organizational Management and simply conduct an inventory of your skills and needs. The following outline identifies key topics and makes suggestions for your consideration.

Personal Organization

Time Management and Work Organization

  • keeping a daily calendar to log ongoing events, activities, and appointments, staff members are encouraged to use Outlook for their calendar
  • keeping a list of tasks "to do"
  • prioritizing work activities
  • scheduling meetings, appointments and activities
  • organizing work flow
  • responding to personal contacts including:
    - office callers
    - email messages
    - hard copy communications
    - telephone calls
  • hard copy filing including:
    - subject matter information
    - office management documents
  • computer file management including:
    - setting up sub-directories to store files in MS Word
    - setting up folders to store messages in MS Outlook
    - setting up a backup filing system in case of system failure

General Office Management

  • Does your office foster an appropriate local image of NDSU and NDSU Extension?
  • Is your office neat, orderly and functional?


  • Are you familiar with the demographics of the geographical area for which you are responsible?
  • Are you familiar with the demographics of your state?

Accountability and Reporting

Do you:

  • report regularly to your District Director
  • report on a timely basis
  • meet organizational requirements for 4-H reports
  • meet organizational requirements for crop reports
  • meet organizational requirements for annual action plans
  • meet organizational requirements for quarterly effort reports

Balancing Work and Personal Life

Extension employees do an excellent job managing multiple roles at work, at home and with extended family and friends, but sometimes we all need a little help balancing these realistically. Extension systems throughout the United States are experiencing many changes. Restructuring, redirection and issues of accountability are some of the things that they face everyday. These changes can result in lengthier involvement at work. At the same time, we and our families need attention and quality time.

As an Extension employee, you need to be aware that your personal life may cross with your professional life.  In many communities, especially if you are in the public eye, you may be viewed as always on the job. What can you do to help balance work and your personal/family life?

Interested in a variety of topics on work-life balance? Check out the Work and Family Life Newsletters .

Go to the Work & Family Connection website for a number of resources to meet your specific needs.

Working with Groups

Think about the variety of people and organizations you work with and take inventory of your skills. Consider a class or library resource to help improve your skills.

General Skills

  • group facilitation skills
  • Workplace Conflict
  • conflict management skills
    - the win/win approach
    - Creative Response
    - Empathy
    - Co-operative Power
    - Managing Emotions
    - Willingness to Resolve
    - Mapping the conflict
    - Developing your options
    - Introduction to negotiation
    - Introduction to mediation
    - Broadening perspectives
  • a basic understanding of how organizations function
  • knowledge of Robert's Rules of Order
  • knowledge of basic constitution and by-laws
  • basic knowledge of responsibilities of an organization's officers
  • knowledge and practice of team building concepts
  • seeking and valuing diversity

Most Extension staff will work regularly with the following groups:

  • Advisory Groups/Work Groups/Focus Groups
  • County Commissioners, Legislators
  • Crop Improvement, 4-H Council, FCE, SCD's
  • Township Officers, Fair Board, Weed Board, Community Development Groups, Economic Development Groups

Volunteer Management

A strong component of Extension work includes working with volunteers. Volunteer Management Includes:

  • recruiting, training, and organizing volunteers for responsibilities in program delivery providing opportunities for volunteers to exchange ideas recognizing volunteers for accomplishments

Volunteer Management 101

What is a volunteer? A volunteer is one of those words that to many people it may have a different meaning. However according to the dictionary a volunteer is someone who is able: To Perform or offer to perform a service of one's own free will and to do charitable or helpful work without pay.

An important component of volunteering in Extension is related to that of Service Learning. Service learning is a method under which students learn and develop through thoughtfully-organized service that: is conducted in and meets the needs of a community and is coordinated with an institution of higher education, and with the community; helps foster civic responsibility; is integrated into and enhances the academic curriculum of those involved.

There are three basic components to effective service learning:

  • The first is sufficient preparation, which includes setting objectives for skills to be learned or issues to consider, and includes planning projects so they contribute to learning at the same time work gets done.
  • The second component is imply performing service.
  • Third, the participant attempts to analyze the experience and draw lessons, through such means as discussion with others and reflection on the work.

Both volunteerism and service learning are critical components of volunteer management. Below you will find a short presentation and some activities to complete on Volunteer Management.

For more information, contact Rachelle Vettern, Leadership/Volunteer Development Specialist, rachelle.vettern@ndsu.edu .

Staff Management

You may have a role as a supervisor of staff within Extension and this role will require additional skills in:

  • guiding staff to focus their strengths on the needs of the community
  • providing staff with opportunities for feedback and evaluation
  • planning and providing for training of professional staff and paraprofessionals
  • providing staff with opportunities to share information and ideas
  • providing opportunities for professional growth and evaluation of support staff

Resource Management

Extension staff are expected to be good stewards of the public funds and resources entrusted to them. It's important to:

  • inventory what's on hand, determining needs, and ordering educational material needs as appropriate
  • seek out facilities and equipment appropriate for delivery of programs
  • pool resources with other agencies or businesses to the benefit of mutual clientele in the community
  • develop an annual budget
  • account for where all funds come from and where they are expended
  • ability to search out grant opportunities and write grant applications when appropriate


Identify an area you need to learn more about. Ask your supervisor or mentor to guide you as you get started. This simple exercise will help begin your personal/professional development plan. You may find that a workshop is offered nearby to provide help, or that a book will be good reading for your personal growth. Making consistent improvements in your professional development and personal organizational management will happen when you take responsibility for your growth.

Additional Resources


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