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Extension County Operations: Program Development

County Program Development Team Tips: Year 4

Advisory System Tips are provided by your Program Development Team. If your county has a tip you would like to share, please send it to Jeff Christie at

  • Tip 1 - Effective Teams Yield a High R.O.A.!
  • Tip 2 - Avoid Micromanaging Your PDT!
  • Tip 3 - New ELS One-Pager!
  • Tip 4 - 10 Steps to Successful Delegation!

Tip 1 – Effective Teams Yield a High R.O.A.! (January 2010)

Most of us are familiar with the business term R.O.I., or Return On Investment.  Translation: Contribute resources up front and realize dividends later.  In working with Program Development Teams (PDT), leaders of high-performing teams would do well to recognize R.O.A., or Return On Appreciation.

The most successful leaders are those who recognize and reward their team's efforts. This not only builds trust, but it strengthens loyalty and increases team members’ desire to perform. Leaders need to say "thank you" regularly. Your team members will likely work much harder if they feel that what they're doing really makes a difference, and that their efforts are noticed by those with "power" (maybe the County Agent; maybe the PDT Chair, or leader; or maybe both). 

Remember, thank-you gifts don't have to be extravagant or costly. Small, frequent gestures are often remembered longer than larger one-time acknowledgements. These small, [and perhaps] entertaining rewards can also help promote a sense of fun within the context of a PDT meeting, which may go a long way toward helping a leader to foster strong relationships with his/her team members.  And don't think that daily gratitude will "wear out" your team. Has anyone ever thanked you so many times that it lost its meaning?  Probably not. It's not likely that your team will ever get tired of receiving your appreciation.

Just make sure you're sincere about why you thank people. And don't ever rush the "thank you" as if it is the last thing you’d rather be doing, or while you're on your way to doing something else. This WILL probably make your gestures lose their meaning. Stop, look at the person, and tell him how much you appreciate what he's doing.

These small gestures cost nothing except a few seconds of your time, but their payoff is enormous.


Tip 2 – Avoid Micromanaging Your PDT! (February 2010)

Micromanagement, in the context of your Program Development Team (PDT), restricts the ability of team members to develop and grow.  If the leader of the PDT – either the Chairperson or you, as lead agent – is micromanaging, it also limits what the team can achieve.  When a leader is reluctant to delegate, focuses on details ahead of the big picture, and/or discourages team members from taking the initiative, there is every chance that leader is tending to micromanage.

If your PDT is showing signs of micromanagement, the leader needs to commit to developing better delegation skills and to trusting team members to grow and develop in their respective roles.  REMEMBER: Good leaders empower their team members to do well by giving opportunities to excel; Poor leaders disempower their team members by hoarding those opportunities. A disempowered team member is an ineffective one, and an ineffective team member is incapable of contributing to the overall success of our Extension Leadership System (ELS).

Tip 3 – New ELS One-Pager! (March 2010)

In response to a need for a comprehensive, easy-to-read and understand summary of the Extension Leadership System (ELS) in Georgia, your ELS management team has designed and published just such a document.  The summary contains explanations of: a) What is ELS?; b) Philosophy and Purpose; c) How Does it Work?; and d) What Does Success Look Like?.  There is a link to a PDF version of this one-pager on the ELS Website, or you can click here to go directly to the document. 

Please share this ELS one-pager far and wide across your community.  Use this summary to help increase your community’s understanding of how UGA Cooperative Extension, as the outreach arm of the University of Georgia in your local community, is identifying and addressing the issues of greatest concern in your county.

Tip 4 – 10 Steps to Successful Delegation! (April 2010)

At first sight, delegation can feel like more hassle than it’s worth.  However, by delegating effectively to members of your PDT, you can greatly expand the amount of work that you can accomplish within your program. When you arrange the workload so that you are working on the tasks that have the highest priority for you, and other people are working on meaningful and challenging assignments, you have a recipe for ELS success. 

Follow these 10 Steps for Successful Delegation:

1) Clearly articulate the desired outcome. Begin with the end in mind and specify the desired results.  

2) Clearly identify constraints and boundaries. Where are the lines of authority, responsibility and accountability? Should the PDT member:

  •          Wait to be told what to do?
  •          Ask what to do?
  •          Recommend what should be done, and then act?
  •          Act, and then report results immediately?
  •          Initiate action, and then report periodically?

3) Where possible, include the membership of your PDT in the delegation process. Empower them to decide what tasks are to be delegated to them and when.

4) Match the amount of responsibility with the amount of authority. The Chairperson or Vice-Chair of your PDT might be an appropriate person to whom to delegate some high-level tasks.  Your newest members may not necessarily be ready for these.  Understand that you can delegate some responsibility; however you can’t delegate away ultimate accountability. As we all know … the buck stops with you!

5) Delegate according to PDT member skill sets and experience. The people who have the most experience in a particular area are best suited for certain tasks because they have the most intimate knowledge of the detail of the everyday work. This also increases efficiency, and helps PDT members to continue in their own personal development.

6) Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions. Ensure the success of a project through ongoing communication and monitoring, as well as provision of resources and credit.

7) Focus on results. Concern yourself with what your PDT members accomplish, rather than detailing how the work should be done. Your way is not necessarily the only, or even the best, way! Allow the person to control his or her own methods and processes. This facilitates success and trust, which is critical to successfully managing an effective PDT.

8) Avoid “upward [or, reverse] delegation”. If there is a problem, don’t allow the PDT member to shift responsibility for the task back to you.  Ask for recommended solutions - don’t simply provide an answer.

9) Build motivation and commitment. Discuss how success will lead to overall programmatic impact, future opportunities, informal recognition, and other desirable consequences. Always remember to provide recognition where deserved.

10) Establish and maintain control.

  •          Discuss timelines and deadlines.
  •          Agree on a schedule of checkpoints at which you’ll review progress.
  •          Make adjustments as necessary.
  •          Take time to review all work before things become “final”.

To delegate effectively, choose the right tasks to delegate, identify the right people to whom to delegate, and delegate in the right way.

There’s a lot to the art of delegation, but if you will embrace and master the concepts, you will position yourself and your team to achieve so much more than you ever have before!