Winston-Salem operates under a council-manager form of government, as do other large cities in North Carolina. Under this form of government, the city council determines city policies.
The city manager is hired by the city council to put those policies into action and to oversee the day-to-day operations of the city.
This form of government is comparable to a large corporation -- the citizens of Winston-Salem are the shareholders, the city council functions as the board of directors, and the city manager serves as the chief operating officer.
This form of government allows city residents, through the city council, to control the direction of city government while ensuring professional administration of city functions. This hierarchy is illustrated by the organization chart for city government. At the top are the citizens of Winston-Salem who elect the mayor and the city council. The city council hires the city manager and the city attorney. All other city employees are hired by the city manager.
Some city departments report directly to the city manager. Others are placed under the supervision of the assistant city managers.