Wendy Koenig

Each spring, the Trustees of the Town of Estes Park are responsible for evaluating their direct employees. We take up this task understanding that feedback is key to the development of people and organizations. That feedback prompts insight, fosters learning, and leads to the continual growth and improvement of the people receiving and providing the feedback.

This year, the Trustees and I are employing a widely used approach to evaluate Town Administrator Travis Machalek, Town Attorney Dan Kramer and Municipal Court Judge David Thrower. The multi-source (aka 360-degree) feedback approach involves considering information from subordinates, colleagues, and supervisor(s) of Machalek, Kramer and Thrower, and a self-evaluation of each. The information helps identify areas of competence as well as areas for growth.

The 360-process gathers responses to questions developed by Laurie Graves (from the human resources firm Graves Consultants), with input from the Trustees and our three direct employees. Information gathered via the instruments varies according to the person’s job requirements.

For example, the position of Town Administrator held by Travis Machalek requires successfully interacting with seven bosses (trustees), directing staff of the town, tracking multiple projects and communicating with the community. The instrument Trustees are using to evaluate Machalek focuses on specific skill sets that are unique to the requirements of the position he holds. These include: strategic skills, tactical execution, financial management, external and internal leadership, communication and character.

Similarly, the instrument for evaluating Kramer focuses on the unique work he does as the Town’s attorney. It includes interacting with the Town’s Trustees, maintaining professional and ethical standards, producing quality work products, and working with Town Staff. At the writing of this report out the specific categories comprising the instrument for evaluating Judge Thrower are in process. Input via that instrument will come from members of the Police Department, Town Clerks Office, the Judge’s assistants, Town Trustees and from Judge Thrower.

After feedback is collected and tabulated, Trustees will meet to review and discuss the findings and Trustees will meet individually with Machalek, Kramer and Thrower to discuss the results. Laurie Graves will facilitate these processes via a zoom meeting in executive session.

Throughout the evaluation process—whether gathering data, reviewing findings, discussing implications, or making plans—the primary focus at every step, for each person involved is on meeting the common good of the townspeople of Estes Park. What does each person do? How might he or she do it better? What isn’t being done that should be done? How can we all work together in the most effective way.

When considered as a whole, the process of providing feedback that’s now underway is certainly something to celebrate. It’s the way we as a Town continuously improve. It’s what enables us to grow forward together and to achieve the common good. I hope you agree.

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