During your first two weeks, you heard from four ACES colleagues. Here are two more colleagues who have some great advice.
Your Job Description and Expectations
During your first month review your job description and job expectations with your supervisor. In addition, please review this PowerPoint set to learn more about regional agent, county coordinator, and specialist responsibilities.
ACES performance management site includes our philosophy about job performance, forms for planning and review, job performance expectations, and more.
All new employees undergo a probationary period. Continued employment is conditional and subject to satisfactory performance during the probationary period. See the ACES Policy Manual (p.13) for more information. Dr. Brown also talks about the process and offers a description of the lengths of trial periods based on job title.
Merriam-Webster Online defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims or qualities that … mark a professional or professional person.” As professionals, ACES employees are expected to exhibit these practices
- Placing service to others over personal gain
- Developing a strong sense of public responsibility
- Developing proficiency in a field of specialization and in communicating that knowledge
- Being dedicated and loyal to our parent institutions and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System
- Working toward self-direction on the job
- Contributing to team work
- Pursuing personal professional improvement plans
- Working within acceptable ethical standards
- Adapting Extension methods and programs when warranted
- Exchanging information with colleagues
- Creating a positive image in the community
- Belonging to and supporting appropriate professional organizations and subscribing to professional journals
- Practising personal grooming and appropriate dress for tasks at hand
Review chapter 4, Organizational Expectations, in the ACES Policy Manual.
Questions about appropriate dress are common. Extension professionals work in a variety of locations and make presentations to different audiences. Dressing to fit the occasion means that you will need a selection of clothes that run the gamut from professional business to business casual. Examples of professional business attire include a suit or shirt and tie with blazer or suit coat for men, and a dress, suit (matiching jacket and skirt), or pantsuit for women. Closed toe shoes are usually most appropriate for professional business. Business casual examples include khaki slacks or skirts, jeans (clean, neat, and conservative), button-down shirts/blouses, polo shirts, modest knit tops, leather type shoes/boots.
All clothing should be clean, neat, and in good repair. Don’t wear anything that is revealing in nature, and undergarments should not be visible. Don’t wear
- Shirts or tops that overly expose the chest
- Sweat suits
- Jogging shorts
- Holey shirts or pants
- Clothes that reveal undergarments
- Clothes that have racially or culturally insensitive messages
- Clothes that have violent, drug-related, or sexual messages
Alabama A&M University dress code is explained here.
Staying in touch. Every employee is required to check his/her email regularly and on a frequent basis during normal working hours unless the employee is on leave or is in a location where email access is not available. Desk phone numbers and ACES-funded cell phone numbers should be included in the contact data section of employee pages in the online directory. Exempt employees are required to maintain and share via “read” privileges their work calendars. ( ACES Policy Manual, p. 20)
Good interpersonal communication skills are critical to developing positive relationships in the office and in your communities.
- Communication Skills for Daily Use at Work
- Talking Through Issues: Interpersonal Communications (An online course via campus.extension.org. The 5-module course is free, but you must register to access the content.)
- Tips from ASTD on improving interpersonal communications
- Communication in Coalitions
- Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships (The focus is on communications in marriage, but the content does have application to the workplace.)
- TED Talk by Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are
Extension employees belong to professional organizations such as the following. See the list of acronyms for links to their sites.
- Alabama Association of County Agriculture Agents and Specialists (AACAAS)
- Association for Communication Excellence (ACE)
- Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (ANREP)
- Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP)
- National Association of Extension Program and Staff Development Professionals (NAEPSDP)
- Extension Support Personnel Association (ESPA)
- National Association of County Agriculture Agents (NACAA)
- National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) and the Alabama chapter
- National Extension Association of 4-H Agents (NEA4HA)
- National Extension Technology Conference (NETC)
- National Resource Management Officers (NRMO)
- Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS)
ACES supports personal and professional development. See the ACES Policy Manual for details (chapter 12).
Opportunities for Promotion
Several positions within ACES are a part of a career ladder and are commonly referred to as a job family. A job family is defined as a series of progressively higher, related jobs distinguished by levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities (competencies) and other factors, and providing promotional opportunities over time. Not all jobs can be placed into a job family. Some jobs consist of very routinized, repetitive work. Others require extensive experience and specific competencies or credentials prior to being placed into the job. The value of such jobs is typically more narrowly defined; therefore, such jobs are not placed into a job family.
The purpose of a career ladder is to provide a system for measuring and documenting the progress of employees in the profession and for rewarding their professional accomplishments. A career ladder is provided to reward employees who demonstrate sustained professional growth and significant programmatic accomplishment through time. For more information, talk with your supervisor or contact Chris McClendon in the ACES Business Office.