Performance Review

Guide For Evaluating The City Manager: Introduction

When city managers are asked if they undergo evaluations by their city councils, the likely response is an acknowledgment of ongoing scrutiny. Similarly, mayors and councilors might admit to self-evaluations around election times. Although these informal assessments occur, they often do not allow for the timely adjustments needed by elected officials.

Recognizing the need for structured evaluations, the League of Oregon Cities has developed a Handbook committed to enhancing council and staff interactions and decision-making effectiveness. This guide is designed to assist councils in establishing formal evaluation processes for key roles such as the chief executive officer, city attorney, and other staff who report directly to the council.

The evaluation process, if conducted thoughtfully, can benefit both the council and staff by fostering better relationships, enhancing communication, providing valuable feedback, and clarifying roles and responsibilities. This not only helps in recognizing strengths and addressing weaknesses but also aids in resolving misunderstandings and minimizing conflicts.

Moreover, as cities evolve, the skills required for staff positions may change. For instance, a city manager who was once hired for their financial acumen may now need to develop stronger skills in community engagement to meet current demands. It is essential for councils to clearly communicate these evolving expectations to their staff.

Councils should avoid frustration with staff performance if expectations have not been clearly communicated. An effective evaluation process can also prompt councils to reflect on their performance and improve their clarity, policy-making, and administrative roles.

Given the diverse needs of different cities, the Handbook offers a variety of evaluation methods and techniques, suggesting that each council choose the approach that best fits its circumstances. This process is part of a broader strategy aimed at fostering more thoughtful governance and improved city management. The Handbook provides a framework for understanding the context of performance evaluations and outlines key steps for implementing a systematic evaluation process.