Core Competencies

Core Competencies

Initial research identified the following set of 14 competencies, presented in alphabetical order.

• Communication
• Continuous learning
• Customer service
• Diversity
• Flexibility and change
• Interpersonal relationships
• Knowledge of Extension
• Professionalism
• Resource management
• Self-direction
• Teamwork and leadership
• Technology adoption and application
• Thinking and problem solving
• Understanding stakeholders and communities

The 14 competencies can also be grouped conceptually into three clusters to facilitate understanding. Grouped conceptually, there are competencies dealing with . . .

Communication Customer service Continuous learning
Diversity Knowledge of Extension Flexibility and change
Interpersonal relationships Resource management Professionalism
Teamwork and leadership Technology adoption and application Self-direction
  Thinking and problem solving  
  Understanding stakeholders and communities  


Communicates effectively with others using the range of methods and tools available in today’s environment; in both individual and group settings; and with co-workers, clientele, and other stakeholders.

Key actions

  • Delivers clear messages when speaking; uses nonverbal communication that is congruent with the intended message.
  • Creates clear and concise written communication.
  • Demonstrates effective listening skills; listens to others, interprets message, checks for understanding.
  • Selects communication tools and methods based on the needs of recipients.

Continuous learning

Demonstrates self-awareness and lifelong learning; learns about self; continually improves skills and capabilities; is willing to learn new things; actively identifies new areas for growth; takes the time to learn and apply newly gained knowledge and skills on the job.

Key actions

  • Seeks and effectively uses performance feedback from others.
  • Develops self-awareness by realistically assessing one’s strengths and weaknesses and their impacts on others relative to the requirements of current work assignment.
  • Actively identifies new areas for learning and sets goals.
  • Seeks out and actively participates in opportunities for professional development that directly impact Extension work.
  • Applies new knowledge and skills to practical use on the job; furthers learning through experience in practicing new approaches and behaviors.

Customer service

Works constantly to provide superior services for clientele, making each interaction a positive one. Understands who clientele are (internal and/or external) and delivers quality service through a customer-focused mindset that acknowledges the importance and value of the person being served; acts accordingly; dedicated to meeting expectations and needs of customers; uses customer feedback to improve.

Key actions

  • Listens and provides a response that is timely and meets clientele needs.
  • Seeks to better understand clientele needs via formal and informal research and anticipates future clientele needs based on trends.
  • Delivers friendly and courteous service.
  • Goes the extra mile to exceed clientele expectations.
  • Looks for and makes continuous improvements.


Recognizes, understands, and appreciates differences and the impact these differences may have in the workplace, in interactions with clientele, or in Extension programming; works effectively with individuals having diverse styles, abilities, motivations, and backgrounds; has the commitment and ability to include one’s own as well as others’ different cultural perceptions, assumptions, norms, beliefs, and values.

Key actions

  • Conveys respect for different perspectives (e.g., cultural, religious, socioeconomic, educational, gender, sexual orientation, and other differences).
  • Identifies, understands, and appreciates needs of a diverse workforce and clientele.
  • Recognizes one’s lack of knowledge about differences (e.g., social norms, decision-making approaches, and preferences) and seeks information and/or support when needed.
  • Expands own awareness; learns about issues of diversity and multiculturalism as they relate to one’s role and the organization.
  • Modifies behavior to help make others feel welcome and accepted.
  • Champions diversity; takes action to increase diversity; addresses inappropriate behavior; suggests new approaches.

Flexibility and change

Demonstrates agility and adaptability, maintaining effectiveness when experiencing changes in the work environment or conditions affecting OSU Extension (e.g., social, economic, or political); has an openness to new and different ways of doing things; accepts change and is willing to deal with ambiguity; adjusts to new work structures, programs, or processes; recognizes need to change and is willing to take risks.

Key actions

  • Seeks to understand changes in work tasks, situations, and environment as well as the reason for such change; seeks information and withholds judgment.
  • Approaches changes positively; treats changes as opportunities for growth; focuses on the beneficial aspects; speaks positively and advocates for change when it promotes organizational goals.
  • Remains open to different ideas and approaches; is able to see the merits of other ideas; has an open mind; readily tries new approaches.
  • Adjusts behavior to deal effectively with changes in the work environment; quickly modifies behavior to fit the circumstances when situations change; acquires new knowledge or skills if needed; does not persist with ineffective behavior.
  • Adapts to handle unexpected challenges to completing task or projects; works to overcome barriers and deal constructively with unexpected challenging situations.

Interpersonal relationships

Successfully interacts with diverse individuals and groups, creating partnerships, networks, and dynamic human systems; relates well with people. Builds trust by interacting with others in a way that gives them confidence in one’s intentions and in OSU Extension. Develops and uses a network of collaborative relationships with internal and external contacts to leverage efforts and accomplish results. Manages conflict constructively.

Key actions

  • Understands the importance that relationships and partnerships (both internally and externally) play in the success of Extension work.
  • Builds and maintains effective relationships with others.
  • Maintains confidentiality; keeps private or sensitive information about others confidential.
  • Assesses interpersonal situations; uses empathy to read others (e.g., understanding, being aware of, and sensitive to a client’s or co-worker’s situation); acts accordingly.
  • Engages in effective conflict resolution with sensitivity to others’ feelings; diffuses tense situations appropriately.
  • Develops partnerships and collaborations to support Extension work.

Knowledge of Extension

Understands the history and philosophy of the land-grant mission and OSU Extension’s role, situated in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; The Ohio State University; and the national Extension System. Has a basic knowledge of current organizational structure, function, and funding as well as formal and informal culture; puts knowledge into practice.

Key actions

  • Articulates the land-grant mission and OSU Extension’s role in that mission.
  • Acts or makes decisions with an understanding of current structure and function for OSU Extension and one’s role in the organization.
  • Knows current programs and priorities and informs clientele of programs and resources available.
  • Describes the importance of local, state, and national funding partners to stakeholders.
  • Uses knowledge of Extension to meet internal and external clientele needs.


Demonstrates behaviors that reflect high levels of performance and a strong work ethic; has a focus on results, ethical decisions, and balance. Professionalism involves personal characteristics (positive attitude, integrity, honesty, trust, manners/etiquette), commitment to Extension work (the mission, vision, and goals of OSU Extension), productive work habits (organizational skills; setting and managing priorities), and balancing all aspects of personal and professional life.

Key actions

  • Is dependable; does what one says one will do or communicates proactively with an alternate plan.
  • Demonstrates a strong work ethic; is willing to go the extra mile.
  • Demonstrates courtesy with colleagues and clientele.
  • Demonstrates ethical behavior; acts responsibly with the larger organization and community in mind.
  • Demonstrates belief and commitment in the mission, vision, and goals of OSU Extension by acting in ways that promote organizational goals or needs.
  • Contributes to organizational committees or professional associations that relate to one’s position.
  • Effectively manages multiple priorities.
  • Maintains a conscious balance between work and personal life; demonstrates work practices that show a commitment to the profession as well as to the health and well being of the individual from the personal life perspective.

Resource management

Creatively identifies and efficiently uses time, materials, and human resources to add value to OSU Extension products or services; promotes stewardship and ethical use of resources; leverages resources and expertise available. Acts with accountability in mind; is responsible for appropriate documentation of work activity and results or impacts; is accountable to supervisor, clientele, and key stakeholders.

Key actions

  • Links programmatic or organizational needs to resources required to meet objectives.
  • Identifies and manages resources to achieve maximum impact.
  • Leverages fiscal and human resources available (e.g., uses resources in Extension, the University, and/or partners; shares knowledge and expertise).
  • Understands and applies University and OSU Extension policies and procedures appropriate for one’s work.
  • Actively documents and reports results and/or impact of Extension work (e.g., fiscal documentation, work processes, program plans, or impacts in reporting systems).


Demonstrates the ability to think and work independently; shows initiative by identifying what needs to be done and does so without being asked; is confident in one’s abilities; sifts through others’ input and expectations, accesses one’s own thoughts, then reaches conclusions and takes action that make sense for one’s work efforts and those of the organization.

Key actions

  • Performs effectively with minimal direction, support, or supervision.
  • Seeks out and uses appropriate support for one’s work.
  • Identifies what needs to be done and takes action before being asked or required by the situation.
  • Speaks up to the right person or group at the right time when disagreeing with a decision or strategy when such action is in the best interest of organizational success.

Teamwork and leadership

Effectively participates and contributes as a member of a team, making contributions to organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Makes decisions and positively influences diverse groups and individuals.

Key actions

  • Develops constructive and cooperative working relationships with others.
  • Delivers individual contributions and carries an appropriate share of the workload.
  • Identifies and draws upon team members’ strengths to achieve common goals.
  • Is focused on success of the team over personal recognition; shares or gives credit to others.
  • Uses interpersonal skills and Area(s) of Expertise to mentor, develop, and coach others.
  • Assumes a leadership role when appropriate.
  • Brings out the best in others by inspiring, motivating, and guiding them toward a goal.

Technology adoption and application

Demonstrates a sound understanding of information technology tools, systems, and operations; has current technology skills for communicating, conducting business, creating, and delivering educational programming with a broad range of colleagues and clientele; actively learns new ways of using technology to enhance Extension work.

Key actions

  • Understands and effectively uses information technology tools needed for Extension work.
  • Selects and applies appropriate technology to one’s work activity and audience.
  • Learns new ways of using technology to improve quality or efficiency of work.
  • Models technology adoption.
  • Identifies and solves routine problems involving the use of technology.

Thinking and problem solving

Acquires information and uses thinking skills including creativity, analytical thinking (logical thinking, breaking a project or program down, anticipating and planning), and conceptual thinking (seeing connections and patterns, putting together information from different places) to prevent and solve problems; is able to think quickly, critically, and constructively with an orientation toward solutions.

Key actions

  • Continuously gathers, evaluates, and uses diverse, relevant sources of information to anticipate and solve problems.
  • Listens; seeks to understand solutions proposed by others.
  • Analyzes needs and proposes solutions; generates new ideas.
  • Proactively identifies areas of improvement, anticipates what is needed, and solves problems before they become a crisis.

Understanding stakeholders and communities

Understands the basics of the community one works in, its dynamics and the role OSU Extension plays within the community with individuals and organizations; understands the political, social, and economic context of one’s community; has the ability to identify and monitor variables and issues important to a community; applies this knowledge to Extension work.

Key actions

  • Demonstrates an understanding of the relationships between OSU Extension and the communities in which OSU Extension operates as well as the variety of stakeholder groups with whom we partner or could partner.
  • Understands and appreciates the complex dynamics of organizations, communities (place, politics, and people), and the economic base of a community.
  • Uses knowledge of stakeholders and communities to identify issues, build and nurture relationships, and support Extension programming

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