CAMA Introduces New CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit: A Guide for the CAO and a Guide for the Mayor & Council

Recognizing the importance of the relationships between the City Manager, Town Manager, or Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), and Mayor and Council, the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) launched a CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit in 2017.  Over the years, we have heard feedback from our members and their Councils on the Toolkit, and are pleased to provide you with a new updated and improved 2023 edition with a “Guide for the CAO” and a “Guide for the Mayor & Council”.  These resources are available for free to member and non-member municipalities.

CAMA understands the challenges that both staff and Council face in conducting performance evaluations.  To assist, we encourage a broader, more holistic understanding of performance conversations, which form “part of an ongoing process, not just an annual event”.  This new Toolkit is flexible and customizable, and provides CAOs and their Councils, with best practices to ensure that performance management is fair and effective.

“Guides are available for the CAO and the Mayor and Council to help define the roles, and to create a process to hold open conversations to assist in achieving a collective vision, and reaching strategic goals for the success of the organization and the community”,  said Bev Hendry, CAMA President and CAO for the Township of West Lincoln, ON.  “There is no right or wrong process or one that’s perfect.  What worked last year may not work this year depending on the complexities, so it’s important to customize the best performance evaluation that works for everyone.”

This Toolkit can be used for a

  • a CAO and Council that are developing a new process and it is their first time conducting a performance evaluation; or
  • a CAO and Council that already has an existing process with specific templates that already work well, but would like to add some other components and best practices.

This three-step performance evaluation process starts and ends with the CAO.  The CAO provides an Information Package to the Mayor & Council with both parties agreeing on a process.  The Mayor and Council review the CAO’s Self-Evaluation, provide their feedback and create a Final Performance Evaluation Report as step two.  In the third step, elected officials and the CAO sit down to discuss the Final Performance Evaluation Report, establish new goals for the CAO to meet over the next year, and sign off on the report.

What is included in the CAO and Mayor & Council Guides?  Both guides offer information on the value of performance discussions, quick reference guides of the three-part process, a sample performance evaluation template without a rating system focusing on the specific annual Council and CAO goals, a sample mandate letter outlining the annual expectations of a CAO, a checklist, and a sample timeline.   The CAO Guide provides details on completing the self-evaluation and Information Package, while the Guide for the Mayor & Council outlines the specific steps that should be followed in preparing the Final Performance Evaluation Report and meeting with the CAO.  To make it easier to see the final product, we have also prepared a completed sample Final Performance Evaluation Report and Mandate Letter.

With the goal of the performance evaluation to provide the CAO with meaningful feedback, hiring a third party, such as a consultant, to work with the Mayor and Council as a neutral party may be an option.  For the CAO, it provides meaningful feedback, it separates the message from the messenger, and focuses on results-oriented opportunities.  For the elected officials, it professionalizes the process, values all opinions around the table, makes the process easier with one person responsible for managing the evaluation from start to finish, and it creates clarity.

“As a national association focused on administrative excellence in local government, this Toolkit is about building better municipalities together,” added Hendry.  “We are excited to give back to our profession by making this free resource available to Canadian municipalities.”

The Toolkit and the above noted resources are available by clicking on the links above and on the CAMA website.



Bev Hendry

CAMA President

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