TO: HONORABLE MAYOR & CITY COUNCIL
FROM: CITY MANAGER
DATE: MARCH 21, 2006
SUBJECT: CITY MANAGER SUCCESSION PLAN
Develop a strategy for the recruitment and selection of a City Manager.
The City Manager is in the ninth month of a two-year contract that ends on June 30, 2007. It is unlikely that he will request a new contract at the end of the current agreement. Councilman Clark has asked that the City Council consider a process and timeline for selecting a successor to the present Manager.
The process for selecting a City Manager is usually designed by the City Council and can take many forms. The most typical process, and the process used to hire the current City Manager, is through a professional recruiting firm. In this process, the City Council first solicits proposals from qualified recruiting firms and then interviews and selects a recruiter. In a meeting, or series of closed session meetings, the Council and the recruiter agree on the qualifications and attributes they are seeking in a City Manager. The recruiter is then directed to find candidates who best fit the description developed by the Council. When the recruiter is confident that he/she has a strong representation of qualified candidates, he/she performs an initial “screening” interview of the top candidates (often 10 to 15). The list of candidates interviewed, and the impression on the recruiter by each of the interviewees is presented to the Council in closed session. At the end of the presentation by the recruiter, the Council usually will have selected up to six candidates who they would like to personally interview. Interviews are scheduled and the Council interviews the selected candidates. Often, after the initial interviews by the Council, two or three of the candidates are invited back for a second more extensive interview, after which an offer is made to the top candidate and transmitted to the candidate by the recruiter. Usually, there is a brief negotiation before terms are agreed on and a contract is signed. The entire process will typically take over six months, and then only if the initial group of candidates includes the right person and the selection process doesn’t have to be repeated.
Although a professional recruiter is almost always utilized to facilitate the search and interview process, there are many variations on the details. For instance, some City Councils appoint a sub-committee of the Council to handle the review of applications, the selection of those to receive a “screening” interview and then conduct the interview rather than have the recruiter perform these initial tasks alone.
Other Cities have utilized a committee of prominent citizens to interview the top candidates and offer their input to the City Council before the Council makes a selection.
Whatever process variation the City Council elects, I suggest they start by selecting a recruiting firm to guide the process. The selection of the recruiting firm should take place at least six months before the current City Manager departs.
- Council solicits proposals and selects a recruiting firm
- Council meets with the recruiter and develops desired qualifications
- Recruiter conducts a search for candidates
- Recruiter interviews top 10-15 candidates
- Recruiter meets with Council to review results of interviews
- Council interviews top six candidates
- Council interviews top two candidates
- Council makes an offer and negotiations commence
- New City Manager starts work