Staff working together

Michigan State University Extension staff in action provide real life example of the importance of teamwork and communication as life skills used by all.

According to “Opportunities and Threats Created by Extension Field Staff Specialization” from the Journal of Extension, “Extension is the best organization in the world at scholarly engagement”, and they despair that “neither Extension field staff nor campus faculty have incentives to work closely together on scholarly engagement.” This appears to be the same within Michigan State University Extension. Throughout the year, MSU Extension staff are encouraged to cross-program or just work together, which can be difficult due to schedules. However, it seems when you need other staff at the spur of a moment, they are there, dropping what they were doing and coming to help.

Let me use an experience I had recently with my colleagues that demonstrates the importance of teamwork and communication. It is fair week, and not only am I trying to do my job related to the many events and activities I’m responsible for, but I also squeeze in a meeting with co-workers for another big upcoming event. Then I get a text letting me know my children’s animal is sick. Now there is more stress! I contact the fair board to let them know what is going on, make the call to the vet and start making arrangements. In the meantime, my co-worker comes to check on me as I left the meeting and didn’t return. I fill the co-worker in on the situation and now my co-worker steps into action and also starts making calls to staff in other counties that are more knowledgeable about the matter – calls I did not think about making.

There were decisions that needed to be made; I’ve talked about making these types of decisions when teaching 4-H programs, but never thought as a staff I would be part of making these decisions. Remember, not everyone will agree with decisions being made. As staff, we continue to gather information and answer questions, keep people informed and implement procedures that have been taught in classes over the years. One might say this is a demonstration of problem-solving and decision-making; skills we all need to be successful.

My co-worker shares an article with me on the topic from a colleague on the other side of the state. Another colleague is coming with supplies (mind you it is after hours and traveling 45 minutes one way). Now there are three staff members (four including myself) working together at the spur of the moment. It was a great feeling knowing colleagues were willing to help and make things happen, even after hours.

Did you notice? As staff, we are still using life skills that we teach through 4-H Youth Development each day: communication, teamwork and cooperation. As staff, we may find it difficult to create or implement programs across workgroups or institutes, but when it comes down to it, we make sure we get the job done and support each other.

Thank you to all of the wonderful MSU Extension staff that dropped what they were doing or changed their schedule to help out this colleague earlier this year!

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