City manager criteria refined

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Editor's note: The third paragraph of this story has been corrected. Former Steamboat Springs City Manager Alan Lanning reached a severance agreement with the City Council. He was not fired.

A successful city manager is one who knows how to dodge falling rocks, said the consultant helping the Steamboat Springs City Council hire a successor to Alan Lanning.

"It's someone who can sit in an asteroid shower and avoid getting hit by the big ones, then decide what's important and channel those (little asteroids) to the right person," Phil McKenney said Monday.

McKenney's executive search firm, Peckham and McKenney, was retained to recruit and screen qualified candidates to replace Lanning, who reached a severance agreement with the council in July. The city hopes to hire the new city manager by the end of this year.

McKenney participated by conference call Monday in a meeting with City Council and a five-member citizens advisory group. Also present was retired Fortune 500 executive and Steamboat resident Roger Good, who is coaching council members on an interviewing strategy that evaluates candidates based on their past performances.

The goal Monday was to agree on the ground rules for compiling a list of six to eight qualities and skill sets that are most desirable in a new city manager. The next step would be to weight those skill sets so that they can serve as criteria for identifying the top three candidates for the job.

The advisory committee likely will be tasked with using the same set of criteria, but it will be asked to interview and evaluate the candidates separately. That way will allow the council the benefit of a different point of view, Council President Loui Antonucci said.

Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said the majority of a city manager's time is spent supervising employees.

"Most of what a city manager does is people and personnel, because that is what City Council cannot do," DuBord said. "In city government, it's management in a fish bowl. I spend 50 to 60 percent of my time answering complaints and comments, personnel and reallocation of resources."

Once a formal job description is crafted to the satisfaction of the advisory group and City Council, he expects to begin recruiting candidates by Oct. 1, and conducting background screening by Nov. 10 in order to conduct formal interviews Dec. 10 and 11.

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