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Headhunter hired to find city adminstrator

• Firm will look at Kansas first before looking nationwide

POSTED February 5, 2018 10:23 p.m.

The search for a new city administrator has begun.
A split Great Bend City Council Monday night authorized Mayor Joe Andrasek to sign the contract with Slavin Management Consultants to handle the search. The city will pay the Atlanta, Ga.-based firm $15,505 plus expenses including consultant travel, office costs and advertising with those additional costs not to exceed $7,752 (travel expenses for finalist visits to Great Bend are not included).
However, “this is something we should be doing here,” Councilman Brock McPherson said. An in-house search could involve Human Resources Director Randy Keasling, the city’s search committee and tapping regional trade journals for classified advertising.
An outside headhunter was sought due to the importance and highly technical nature of the position, Keasling said. No one currently with the city has the experience to handle such a search and, besides, the administrator would be Keasling’s boss.
But, “we’re spending taxpayer dollars,” McPherson said. “We are doing our constituents a disservice.”
“I disagree,” Councilwoman Jolene Biggs said. “This is a big position. Our last administrator was here for a long time.”
She said many on the council have hired employees before, none of these were on this scale. “Sometimes, you get what you pay for.”
Andrasek said he saw both sides, but agreed with Biggs. “I want what’s best for our city.”
With opposition from both councilmen Andy Erb and Cory Zimmerman who joined with McPherson, the measure passed 4-3. Biggs, Cory Urban, Joel Jackson and Vicki Berryman voted yes.

The proposal
Keasling said three proposals were submitted. The Search Committee consisting of Andrasek, councilmembers Biggs and Dan Heath, Interim City Administrator George Kolb, City Attorney Bob Suelter and Keasling met initially to discuss the three proposals.
One proposal was rejected due to lack of experience, only having handled two administrator searches. The committee then met one week later to speak with each of the other two companies. After interviewing both companies, the committee is recommending Slavin Management Consultants. Slavin has a 30-plus year history of successful recruitment. The in-depth discussion about their process and how they would handle the search was impressive to all committee members.
Slavin also makes the guarantee that if the new administrator leaves within the first two years, it will come back and do another search at no cost to us except their expenses. The other company had handled many successful placements but the committee felt its approach was not as in depth and did not make a guarantee on additional search responsibilities if the new Administrator would leave within two years.
SMC will start its search in Kansas before looking elsewhere, Andrasek said.
According to SMC’s proposal, it will meet with the mayor and city council members and department directors to learn about the city’s needs and culture. Also, it will provide options for additional external and internal stakeholder involvement.
Finally, SMC will receive a guided tour of the community. These meetings and tour as well as independent research conducted by SMC about the community and position will help SMC determine the unique challenges facing next city administrator. This will allow an accurate description of the desired professional.
Once SMC has gained sufficient information, it will prepare a draft recruitment profile and review it with the mayor and city council for approval. The profile will include information about the Great Bend community, city government, issues and opportunities to be managed by the next city administrator, and the job requirements and selection criteria.
The firm notes it will conduct a national recruitment for qualified candidates, tapping its database of candidates, professional local government management network, advertisements in national professional publications and regional publications and and sending the recruitment profile to persons who have the requisite experience.
It will submit a written progress report on the semifinalists and meet with the client to discuss this report. Typically 10-15 semifinalists are included in the progress report.
The progress report will summarize each semifinalists’ experience and education. The report will also include a screening of semifinalists against the selection criteria and job requirements contained in the recruitment profile.
The company will also conduct background investigations and site visits on the finalists. In order to better assess the finalists’ management style and interpersonal characteristics, SMC will personally interview each in his or her present work environment while protecting the finalists’ confidentiality. SMC will closely examine each finalist’s experience, achievements, management style, and interpersonal skills in relation to the recruitment profile’s selection criteria.
In addition, SMC will assist in developing the interview process; provide information about trends in employment, employment agreements, and relocation expenses; facilitate negotiation of the selected candidate’s compensation package; and follow-up with the mayor and the new city administrator six and 12 months after the selected candidate has been employed to evaluate the success of the placement.

Background
The council appointed Kolb of Wichita on Sept. 18 of last year. City Attorney Bob Suelter had been acting as the short-term interim city administrator until a more long-term administrator could be found.
The appointment was necessitated by the sudden Aug. 16 retirement of long-time City Administrator Howard Partington who had been with the city for 36 years. Partington cited stress caused by the flap between now resigned Police Chief Clifton Couch and the city as the reason for his departure.

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