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CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit



CAO Performance Evaluation Guide for the CAO
CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit Guide for the Mayor & Council English


CAMA produced this Toolkit in recognition of the importance of the relationship between the City Manager, Town Manager, or Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), and the Mayor and Council.  An effective working partnership between Council and its CAO can be one of the most critical prerequisites for municipal success.  CAMA encourages a broader, more holistic understanding of performance conversations, which form “part of an ongoing process, not just an annual event”.    

This 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 for 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.  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.

It 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.

Click here to learn the “Top 10 Reasons Why A Council Should Conduct A CAO Performance Evaluation”.


What is Included in the CAO and Mayor & Council Guides? 

Both guides offer the following:

  • Important information on the Value of Performance Discussions.  A performance evaluation should be an ongoing process - not an annual event.  There are some tips and best practices on the importance of setting up quarterly reviews between the Mayor and Council, developing a compensation framework when the CAO is hired, surveying stakeholders that interact with the CAO on a regular basis, and the possibility of hiring a third-party consultant to conduct a facilitated evaluation.
  • Quick Reference Guides.  A one-page Quick Reference Guide showing each step at-a-glance for each of CAMA's three-part process (for the CAO, Mayor and Council, and the final performance evaluation meeting.)
  • Sample Best Practices.  The performance evaluation template included in this Toolkit is a best practice document to assist in having quality discussions and does not have a rating system.  A sample mandate letter has also been provided as an option.
  • Sample Timeline.  A sample timeline to be used as a guide, beginning in mid-August and finishing the first week of December to coincide with the calendar and budget year.  This process can move at the pace set by the CAO and the Mayor and Council.

The CAO Guide provides a detailed step-by-step plan for the preparation of the CAO Information Package for the Mayor and Council, including the self-evaluation and a process checklist.  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 (also including a checklist).  



CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit:  CAO Guide
CAO Performance Evaluation Toolkit:  Mayor & Council Guide


Following are templates in PDF but also in Word format so they can be completed directly on the form:

Sample Performance Evaluation Template (PDF) / Sample Mandate Letter (PDF)

Sample Performance Evaluation Template (Word)  / Mandate Letter (Word)

Sample Completed Templates

To make it easier to see the final product, we have prepared a sample Final Performance Evaluation Report and Mandate Letter.

Sample Completed Final Performance Evaluation Report for the CAO                                                                                Sample Completed Mandate Letter for the CAO 



It is also important for the Chief Administrative Officer/City Manager to conduct a performance evaluation review for direct reports (Directors/Commissioners/Chiefs/Department Heads).  Following are some examples for your use:

  • A Performance Evaluation Review template  to be completed by the CAO/City Manager and the employee and reviewed during the performance evaluation.   
  • A Mandate Letter that the CAO/City Manager can provide to each direct report each year at their performance evaluation.  This outlines the expectations for all Departments and also lists some specific expectations for each Department.   The sample provided is for the Corporate Services Department.


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