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Performance Evaluation of Managers

How do you evaluate a City/County Manager? What criteria and methodology would you typically use? In a recent Knowledge Network question, ICMA members and other KN users shared their thoughts and recommendations of performance evaluations of mangers, based on personal experiences. 

Managers emphasize the inclusion of the council members and immediate subordinates within the evaluation as a crucial step to receive comprehensive feedback.  Wes Hare, city manager of Albany, Ore. described his own feedback process that involved the council as well as the HR director to discuss what each expected from the manager. This created open dialogue and enhanced communication between the council and manager.

Another recurring issue is the instrument of performance evaluation. City manager of Maryland Heights, Mo. Mark Levin, pointed out that that since manager evaluations can range greatly from fulfilling a contractual obligation to providing a forum for an open and honest exchange, an effective and relevant evaluation must be outcome specific. However, members have reported dissatisfaction with standard evaluation forms, and have resorted to creating more fitting evaluation criteria.

Curtis Davis, ex city manager of Johnstown, Pa. describes a performance measurement tool he created by listing all his major job responsibilities and evaluating himself, noting his strengths and weaknesses as well as the goals to be achieved in the coming year.  The completed form was provided to all council members, who also used it to evaluate him.  Finally, a joint discussion was held to discuss the points of agreements and disagreements, and benchmarks were set for the performance appraisal of the upcoming year. The process also compelled the council to discuss topic priorities for the city manger’s agenda. 

Eric Levitt, city manager of Janesville, Wis. recounts that when council members were not satisfied with the evaluation criteria, they asked the staff to create one that reflected the priorities and qualities under which they hired a City Manager.

Does your jurisdiction have an effective criterion for evaluating managers? Click here to contribute your experiences to the discussion.

The Knowledge Network features many other discussions and articles on the topic as well as several sample evaluations:

  • City Manager Evaluation Form from Bonner Springs, Kans. that includes evaluation on supervision, leadership, council relations, execution of policy, and planning.
  • City Manager Performance Evaluation created by the University of Tennessee, Institute for Public Service that can be customized to meet the requirements of specific local governments.
  • City Manager Performance Rating from Burleson, Tex. includes ICMA performance evaluation practices while being neutral of local criteria.  
  • City Manager Evaluation from Temple Terrace, Fla. assesses manager performance and serves as a dialogue facilitator between the manager, council and mayor.
  • City Manager Evaluation Form from City of Oviedo, Fla. provides a template for the council to evaluate managers.

Other useful resources on the web include:


Amanda Relyea

See for the new, complimentary ICMA Manager Evaluations Handbook.

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