By Michelle Greene
Receiving a performance evaluation from elected officials can feel uncomfortable for some, especially the first time. It is, however, an important part of the council-manager relationship and should serve as a useful tool for both the manager and the elected officials.
Ideally, if the manager is doing a good job communicating with councilmembers throughout the year and has established strong working relationships with them, there should be no surprises in their comments. But even the most seasoned manager can feel uneasy when evaluation time rolls around.
A key part of any performance review is the self-evaluation. It's an opportunity to tell your story from your unique position and perspective. To prepare myself mentally for an evaluation, I like to look back at what the organization has accomplished over the prior year, so I can communicate the successes and strengths of our team to the council within the self-evaluation.
I also carefully review the goals the council has adopted for me, and I prepare an update for them on my progress in accomplishing those goals. Taking these steps helps me feel a sense of accomplishment, makes me feel proud of the team of professionals that I lead, and helps me mentally prepare for the assessment of my performance.
Even with ample preparation, it can still feel uncomfortable to face the viewpoints of my performance from five bosses. I prepare emotionally by reminding myself that I work hard to maintain the good relationships I have built with councilmembers, and that I do my best to communicate both the good and the bad news to them on an ongoing basis.
Through this transparency, I build trust with the elected officials and demonstrate to them that I am working diligently to keep them informed and support them in their roles. Developing this type of partnership is time-consuming, but it is key to a manager's success.
Knowing that I work hard to maintain those partnerships helps quell the discomfort I have going into the performance evaluation process.
Michelle Greene is city manager, Goleta, California (firstname.lastname@example.org).