|Youve Lost Your City Manager...
City managers leave for a variety of reasons--another job, retirement or encouraged departure. Having no leader brings about a period of trauma for an organization. The grapevine becomes active and a general feeling of insecurity develops. Power struggles may arise and morale can plunge. This can occur even if the departing city manager was a superstar.
Intense pressure develops. The city council must do something now. The temptation is to designate a department head or an assistant as the acting city manager. This relieves the immediate pressure but it may lead to new and more difficult problems.
An inhouse appointment, even though temporary, provides the designee quite an advantage over other candidates, inside and outside the organization. Applicants may view the action as a signal that the job is wired and that the council is just going through the motions.
Once designated as an acting city manager, it is very difficult for that person to go back to their old position if they are not the successful candidate. It is also quite difficult for the council to tell the inhouse applicant, Sorry, you didnt make it.
The Alternative: Len Wood
Many local governments avoid the quagmire by using an interim city manager. A true interim is just that
a temporary city manager who is experienced, professional and competent. The interim should commit to the city council and staff that he or she is not seeking the permanent position.