Archive for the '3. Resource Spotlight' Category

Making the Right Choice

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012



Click Here for the June 2012 Issue



If you’ve ever regreted a hiring decision, you know: hiring the wrong person can be costly – in time, morale, and productivity. 

While no fool-proof method of making the right decision exists, there are techniques that can greatly improve your chances of hiring the best fit. In addition, the Perelman SOM has new tools  to make screening and interviewing easier for those doing the hiring.

Screening Techniques and Tools

The techniques to help you screen for the best candidates are to:

  1. Write Effective Job Criteria
  2. Design Interview Questions
  3. Design Evaluation Tools

Screening Step 1: Write Effective Job Criteria
In order to hit a target, you need to have a target. That’s the purpose of the job criteria: to clarify what (or rather, who) you’re looking for.

Review the Job Description

Use this as an opportunity to take a good look at the job for any changes you may wish to make. Often a job will evolve with the person who works in it until the job description no longer truly describes the job that is being done. Ask yourself:

  • Did the last person in the job do any tasks not mentioned in the job description?
  • Are there tasks mentioned in the job description that the last person in the job didn’t do?
  • Have the job qualifications, tasks and responsibilities changed?
  • How does this position fit into the department’s long-term strategy?
  • Should the position be divided, eliminated or substantially changed?

List Key Competencies the Hire Should Have

Competencies are skills, abilities, behaviors, characteristics, attitudes or qualifications that cause and predict superior performance.

If you are hiring for one of the most common jobs at the Perelman SOM, identifying good competencies is easy due to new job criteria lists created by Office of Organization Effectiveness in conjunction with Penn’s Office of Human Resources.

Common jobs with pre-identified competencies include:

  • Clinical Research Assistant A/B
  • Clinical Research Coordinator A – Clinical Research Nurse B
  • Clinical Research Coordinator B/C – Clinical Research Nurse C/D
  • Clinical Research Coordinator Supervisor – Clinical Research Nurse Supervisor – Project Manager
  • Faculty Coordinator (Primary Role)
  • Faculty Coordinator (Multiple Roles)
  • Grants Coordinator
  • Grants Manager
  • Research Specialist A/B
  • Resource Technologist A/B/C

 The Office of Organization Effectiveness can help you identify the job-specific competencies that are most directly associated with effective performance.

Look at the job description and make a list of key competencies that the hire should have.

For other positions, Organization Effectiveness will meet with you and provide the tools and process necessary to help you identify the critical competencies for the specific job you are filling.

Be specific about the level of competency you want. If you want someone who knows MS Access:

  • How strong an expertise do you need them to have?
  • Do you only need them to know how to enter data and run canned reports?
  • Do you need them to know how to create reports?
  • Do you need them to know how to create a database?

STEP 2: Design Interview Questions

Question Creation Tools

You can take much of the work out of designing questions by using tools that automatically create questions for you according to the competencies you have chosen:

Interview Architect®Organization Effectiveness can help you select questions and design an effective interview process utilizing Interview Architect®, an online interview design tool. View a sample interview plan created with Interview Architect ®.

Design Behavioral Questions

If you choose to create questions yourself, be sure to design Behavioral Interview questions. These focus on a person’s actual past behavior instead of on hypothetical future behavior.

Instead of:
“How would you handle a difficult co-worker?”
“Can you tell me about a time when you had a difficult co-worker? What did you do? What was the result?”

The reason for this is that what people say they would do hypothetically isn’t always what they would really do. Remember:

The best predictor of FUTURE PERFORMANCE

Design Open Questions

“Open” questions invite a detailed response, while “closed” questions only invite a yes/no response.
Instead of:
“Do you have any experience in animal research?”
“Tell me about a specific project you worked on involving animals.”

Design Follow-Up Questions

Even though you may ask detailed questions, you may not get detailed responses. To make sure you do, design follow-up questions to flesh out the SAR (Situation, Action, Result):
Situation – What was the Situation? What happened?
Action – What Action did you take?
Result – What was the Result?

Design Questions That Flesh-Out the Resume

Look at the candidate’s resume for potential questions on issues such as:

  • Gaps in employment
  • Career changes
  • Over qualification

Design Legal Questions

“The University of Pennsylvania does not discriminate on the basis of
race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, age, disability, or status as a Vietnam Era Veteran or disabled veteran.”
-University of Pennsylvania Nondiscrimination Statement

The basic guideline to remember is that it is illegal to base a hiring decision on anything other than “Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications.” So stick with questions that focus solely on the competencies you’ve decided that the position needs.

If you need someone who can speak Spanish:
Instead of:
“Is Spanish your native language?” OR “Are you Hispanic?”
“Do you speak Spanish fluently?”

If you need someone who can lift 50 lbs. and notice that the job candidate is walking with a cane:
Instead of:
“Is your injury permanent?” OR “Will your injury prevent you from lifting?”
“The job requires that you be able to lift 50 lbs. Is there any reason why you could not do so?”

Examples of unlawful vs. lawful questions.

STEP 3: Design Evaluation Tools

Design a Candidate Evaluation Form

A Candidate Evaluation Form will help you do a qualitative and quantitative analysis of each candidate.

Click below to view a sample Candidate Evaluation Form. Use this as a template to customize to your particular position:
Candidate Evaluation Form – pdf version
Candidate Evaluation Form – MS Word version

During the interview take detailed notes. Immediately afterwards, use these notes as the basis for filling out a Candidate Evaluation Form. Don’t put it off; it’s very easy for candidates to start mixing together in our memory.

Design a Criteria Matrix

Use a Criteria Matrix to compare potential candidates. Click below to get a sample completed matrix along with a blank matrix for you to use:
Criteria Matrix – pdf version
Criteria Matrix – MS Word version

Immediately after every interview, along with filling out the Candidate Evaluation Form, take the time to numerically rate the candidates on the Criteria Matrix. Again, don’t put it off; it’s very easy for candidates to start mixing together in our memory.

Also in the June 2012 issue

2012 Supervisory Skills & LeadingSuccess Graduations

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Supervisors

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010


Click Here for the January 2010 Issue


Non-exempt vs. Exempt, overtime, recordkeeping requirements – these Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) issues can be confusing for the most conscientious supervisor.  How can a manager, supervisor or faculty member understand and comply with this complex law?

The Office of Organization Effectiveness, in consultation with the Division of Human Resources, has created an online module entitled Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Supervisors. This module will help Supervisors, Managers, and Faculty Members understand their responsibilities regarding the FLSA, to help them treat employees appropriately and avoid putting the University at risk for fines and penalties.

This short (under 15 minute) module describes typical situations that could arise in the lab, office, and other SOM-specific venues, and explains:

• definitions and differences between Exempt and Non-Exempt workers
• overtime issues
• how to handle overtime when someone works for both the SOM and UPHS
• what employee records a supervisor needs to keep – and for how long

The SOM urges all faculty and staff who supervise others to view the program, and to use it as a reference tool whenever they may be dealing with FLSA issues. It is available through Knowledge Link.

To view it:

1. Login to using your PennKey and Password
2. On the left navigation bar click “Optional” (under “Training”)
3. Find the course titled “Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Supervisors – SOM”
4. Click “Enroll”

Also in the January 2010 issue

SOM Management Certificate Programs
Business Writing Tips – Part 2

New Resources for Hiring and On-boarding New Staff

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009


Click Here for the October 2009 Issue


If you are recruiting, hiring or on-boarding new staff, the Office of Organization Effectiveness has created two new resources to help:

Recruiting & Hiring Staff for Stimulus-funded Positions

If you need to hire – and want to do it quickly and successfully – this site can help. Created in conjunction with Oforie Murray of Penn’s Human Resources Satellite Office at the SOM, this site gives you tips and direct contact information of people who can help you in the process.

SOM Central

“I wish I had known some of this sooner!”  This is a common longing new staff members express at the SOM’s New Staff Orientation program, regarding some of the information they learn there.

By sending your incoming staff members a link to the new SOM Central site, you can make sure they have the urgent information they need to quickly become acclimated to the SOM.  It gives them a heads-up on:

• Transportation
• Parking
• Campus Maps
• Security
• Location of ATMS
• How to sign up for New Staff Orientation
• …and More!

Send the link to new staff before they come or as soon as they arrive.  In addition, you yourself can use SOM Central:

• To download and customize the Departmental Orientation Templates (in the “New Staff” sidebar to the right) as a handy guide for orienting new staff to your department.

• As a reference tool for your own use. (It’s not just for new staff!)

Also in the  October 2009 issue

Develop Your Staff’s (or Your) Leadership Skills
Business Writing
LeadingSuccess™ and Supervisory Skills Certificate Graduations
Knowledge Link Help Desk


Resource Spotlight

Friday, January 9th, 2009


Click Here for the January 2009 Issue


Did you know…the Department of Organization Effectiveness provides customized training services to departments?

Here are ways we can help you with your staff training initiatives.

We can:

• Conduct needs assessments
• Conduct focus groups
• Conduct interviews
• Advise in training design
• Identify and procure technological training solutions
• Design training metrics
• Deliver training
• Evaluate the impact of training

For more information contact the Office of Organization Effectiveness at or 215-573-0682.

Also in the January 2009 issue 

SOM E-learning Module Wins Award
Seven Tips to Writing Effective Emails
LeadingSuccess™ Nominations Open Up
Supervisory Skills Certificate Deadline
Knowledge Link Help Desk


Harnessing Strengths

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008


Click Here for the September 2008 Issue


You have talented people on your team – but they just don’t seem to be performing on all cylinders. This could be because they’re not sufficiently using their strengths. What can be done to improve that?

The SOM Office of Organization Effectiveness can help your staff identify the kinds of activities in their work that are related to their strengths and how to position themselves to work from these strengths consistently.

The Simply Strengths program – based on the Marcus Buckingham book Go Put your Strengths to Work – is presented over six 90-minute sessions conducted weekly for your team. Along with our facilitation, each session uses 10-15 minute videos from the Marcus Buckingham video series, Trombone Player Wanted .

Buckingham’s work in employee effectiveness is based on his nearly two decades of research experience as a Senior Researcher at the Gallup Organization.

Marcus Buckingham hosts the “Trombone Player Wanted” companion video to the Simply Strengths training, which is based on his nearly two decades of research experience as a Senior Researcher at the Gallup Organization.

Marcus Buckingham hosts the “Trombone Player Wanted” companion video to the Simply Strengths training, which is based on his nearly two decades of research experience as a Senior Researcher at the Gallup Organization.

For more information on how to bring this program into your department, contact the Office of Organization Effectiveness at or 215-573-0682.

Also in the September 2008 issue

 SOM Staff Lend Voices to Online Sexual Harassment Training
Preventing Communication Breakdowns
Supervisory Skills Certificate Deadline
Leading Success™ Program Members Selected
Workplace Q&A
Knowledge Link Help Desk


Information You Need, When You Need It

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Click here for the June 2008 issue

You want to work more effectively with your PI, and are looking for strategies on managing up. You vaguely remember reading something about that in a past issue of SOM@Work.

It’s time for performance appraisals, and you’re not sure where to start. Wasn’t there something about that in a past issue of SOM@Work?

You have a new international staff member who is struggling with English pronunciation and has asked you were to go for help. There was a list of English as a Second Language resources in SOM@Work – which issue was that?

SOM@Work has become a popular, just-in-time resource for supervisors, staff and faculty at the SOM. We discovered this by tracking hits on the site, and finding that in the months preceding performance reviews, there was a huge, sudden surge in hits on year-old articles discussing performance reviews.

To find what you are looking for, start by clicking on
(or if you are already in SOM@Work, you can click on the masthead at the top of any page). Then you have three options for finding things. The easiest way is to do a search for articles in the search field under Resources in the column at the top right of the page. Or you can look for past articles organized by issue and by category, also in the column at the right.

So, for instance, to find that list of English as a Second Language resources for your staff member, click on, type English as a Second Language or pronunciation in the field. Or you may remember the article came out in the January 2008 issue, and you can click on that issue to find it. Or you may recall that it was in the Workplace Q&A column, and can click on that category.

It’s information that’s available when you need it.

Also in the June 2008 issue:

Training Help Has Arrived
Powerful PowerPoint
Supervisory Certificate Series
Knowledge Link Help Desk


Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Click here for the January 2008 issue

Have you ever had a “peak” experience on a team – a period of time working with others that was both highly challenging and rewarding, and characterized by sustained high levels of energy, collaboration, and productivity?

If you’re answer is “no,” you’re not alone – when I pose this question to participants in teambuilding seminars, more than 75 % say they have never had a peak team experience.

And when I ask those who have had a peak experience “How was that level of teamwork achieved?” they have a hard time explaining it. From their perspective it was just good luck – being at the right place at the right time.

The fact is, most people don’t know what it is like to work on a high-performing team, and most managers don’t feel confident in their ability to create one.

Peak performing teams CAN be created. There are four critical factors involved:

Purpose – Do team members understand and agree on the core purpose of the team? Do they know who depends upon/benefits from the teams efforts and how their work contributes to the mission and objectives of the larger organization?

Roles – Are team members clear about their own responsibilities, the responsibilities of others and how they connect? Have they communicated the expectations they have for each other?

Operating Principles – Has the team discussed and come to agreement on their basic day-to-day operating processes? How is information communicated? What types of meetings are needed and how often should they be scheduled? How are decisions made? How are resources acquired and allocated?

Priorities “ What is most important for the team to be focusing on? What should get done first?

The Office of Organization Effectiveness provides consulting and facilitation services to help managers and team leaders navigate team building efforts successfully. Whether the goal is getting a new team up-and-running quickly, helping a dysfunctional team get on track, or boosting a functioning team to high-performance, we can work with managers to design a process that creates alignment on issues that are critical to the team and help team members become more engaged and efficient.

To learn more or to discuss your team’s needs, contact us in the Office of Organization Effectiveness at or 215-898-0682.

Charles A. (Chuck) Haughton is Manager of the Office of Organization Effectiveness at the SOM. He has extensive experience as a management and organizational consultant, leading teambuilding retreats and seminars.

                   Also in the January 2008 issue:                        

How to Communicate with Your U.S. Co-workers
How to Communicate with Your International Co-workers
Newest Supervisory Skills Certificate Graduates
Workplace Q&A
Knowledge Link Help Desk

Organization Effectiveness Resources Library

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007
Click here for the October 2007 issue

Do you need information on handling conflict, giving feedback, or other practical topics – but can’t attend or find an appropriate training class?

You can access that information at your convenience using the new SOM Faculty/Staff Resource Library at The Office of Organization Effectiveness. The library will initially offer a series of 34 guidebooks on a variety of leadership and professional development topics such as teamwork, communications, and self-development.

A full listing of guidebooks, along with an executive summary of each one, can be viewed HERE. Resources may be checked out by contacting our office at 215-573-0682 or emailing us at

We will expand the library over time based on current needs and suggestions. If you would like to recommend an addition to the library, please send us an email or give us a call.

Also in the October 2007 issue:       

SOM Supervisory Skills Certificate Program
First Supervisory Skills Certificate Series Cohort Graduates
Creating Persuasive Presentations
All Aboard
Workplace Q & A
Knowledge Link Help Desk

Meeting & Retreat Design and Facilitation

Monday, April 9th, 2007

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Click here for the April 2007 issue

MBTI Seminar
Some departments find it helpful to learn about their members’ personality styles by using tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Here participants in the Supervisory Certificate Program participate in an MBTI activity.

As one fiscal year ends and a new one begins, departments often conduct meetings or retreats in which they identify their goals and priorities for the coming year. Whether it is a half-day meeting or multi-day retreat, The Office of Organization Effectiveness can help. We provide meeting design and facilitation services for SOM departments, centers, institutes and administrative offices that can help you make the most of your time together. The process starts with an individual consultation to understand the purpose and specific desired results of the meeting. Using these criteria, we will recommend the appropriate level of service to the person or group that is responsible for executing the meeting. This can include any or all of the following:

  • “Behind the scenes” coaching to the meeting leader(s) before, during and after the meeting
  • Design of the agenda and activities in advance of the meeting
  • Facilitation of the agenda and activities during the meeting
  • Follow-up activities after the meeting to maintain momentum and ensure follow-through on meeting decisions and commitments

To take advantage of the free service, contact the Office of Organization Effectiveness at 573-0682 or

Also in the April 2007 issue: Write You Own Performance Review
Four Steps to Writing Performance Appraisals
Workplace Q & A
Knowledge Link Help Desk

Departmental Orientation Checklists

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

You have a new staff member and there are so many things you need to tell them. You have to get them connected with their Penn ID, their BA and their LSP…all ASAP!

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a cheat sheet to help you orient new hires to your department?  

Now there is. 

Orienting someone to a new job can be an overwhelming task when added to all your other duties. 

The questions are endless:  how do they set up an email account?  Where can they park so they don’t have to keep feeding the meter?  And where do they get that black key?  

No matter how much information you dispense, there are always things that drop through the cracks. Those gaps in information leave your new hires confused and floundering, and can delay their arrival at full productivity. 

The Department of Organization Effectiveness and a group of volunteers have created templates for you to use to orient staff and temporary workers to their jobs. 

You can use them as-is, or download them to your computer and alter them to suit the needs of your department. 

For customizable Departmental Orientation Templates, click HERE. 

Our thanks to the volunteers who created these templates:

Michelle Arlotta, Donna Duca, Jessie A. Fisher, Paige Hasling, Donya Kemp, Margaret Kimble, Merceda Lafferty, Marcia Markowitz, Amy Paglione, Allison Simpson, Jennifer Williams, and Karen Wisnia.

Looking Ahead

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Welcome to the first edition of SOM@Work! This newsletter is a new resource for faculty and staff produced by the SOM Department of Organization Effectiveness (formerly the SOM Training Department).

In response to your answers in the survey we sent out earlier this year, we will be making several changes to benefit you.

New Name/More to Offer
In order to more fully serve you, the SOM Training Department is broadening its focus…and changing its name to reflect that broader focus. We are now the Department of Organization Effectiveness. We think this name better expresses our mission – to serve as the School of Medicine’s primary gateway to training, development, and consulting resources that enable staff and their organizations to work at their fullest potential.

We have identified the following four objectives to serve as a guide for new initiatives we will be implementing for you over the coming months.

  1. Make it easier for you to access training resources. We want to utilize our website as a clearinghouse of information and resources so that, when it comes to training and development, people can find what they need quickly. In addition, we want to expand the amount of online learning we offer through KnowledgeLink to compliment the classroom training we offer.
  2. Provide additional tools for professional development. We are making available a variety of assessment tools to support individuals, teams and departments achieve professional growth and increase their effectiveness.
  3. Develop supervisory/leadership training. We are creating a menu of supervisory skills programs with the opportunity for participants to earn a Supervisory Skills Certificate. Looking ahead, we are making plans for additional programs targeted to leadership development.
  4. Introduce executive coaching and consultative services. We are beginning to provide customized solutions that address specific needs within departments. Initial services include individual coaching, team building, meeting design and facilitation, and consulting on other organizational issues.

Look for more details on these initiatives in future editions of SOM@Work. We appreciate any feedback you may have for us as we move ahead. Feel free contact us at 215-573-0682 or with your input.

Welcome to Organization Effectiveness – we’re here to help!