City Process

Factors For Performance Evaluation Process For City Managers

1. Council and Staff Roles and Responsibilities

The council-manager system of governance was designed to separate the policy-making duties of the elected council from the administrative functions executed by the staff. However, this separation is often blurred, particularly in defining policy versus administration, potentially leading to conflicts between the council and staff. Before conducting any performance evaluations, it is vital for the council and its staff to clearly define and agree on their respective roles and responsibilities. This clarity is essential for meaningful evaluations and can be facilitated by existing city charters, ordinances, and job descriptions.

2. Setting Council Goals and Priorities

Goals are essential for organizational success. Effective organizations need a clear understanding of their purpose and objectives and a reliable method to evaluate their progress towards these goals. The council should set these goals and use them as a framework to guide staff performance. While the council’s goals should inform the evaluation process, they themselves should not be the direct subject of staff appraisals.

3. Performance Evaluation Procedures

The evaluation of city managers must comply with the state’s open meetings law, which mandates transparency and public access to meetings. Councils must decide whether to conduct evaluations in an open meeting or in an executive session, although specific guidance can only be provided in public settings. The law stipulates:

  • Evaluations of chief executives must be announced in public, allowing for public comment.
  • Executive sessions cannot be used for giving specific directives to administrators.
  • Public testimony during evaluations should focus on professional performance, not personal characteristics.

4. Legal Considerations for Executive Sessions

The open meetings law outlines specific procedures for executive sessions:

  • A public notice of at least 24 hours is required before an executive session.
  • No final actions or decisions can be made in executive sessions; these must occur in a public meeting.
  • Records of the session, such as minutes or audio recordings, must be maintained but are not automatically public.

5. Performance Evaluation Steps

The performance evaluation process includes several key steps:

  • Step 1: Define the objectives for evaluating staff performance.
  • Step 2: Develop criteria based on defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Step 3: Select a procedure for evaluation.
  • Step 4: Perform the evaluation.
  • Step 5: Provide feedback and take any necessary actions based on the evaluation.
  • Step 6: Refine the criteria and process based on feedback to enhance future evaluations.

This structured approach ensures that performance evaluations are conducted fairly, transparently, and effectively, contributing to better governance and administration in city management.