Press Release

The 3 Cs for Preventing Productivity Loss During the Administration Transition

ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. government faces significant change during administration transitions, which can lead to a potential loss of nearly $27 million in productive work hours for the average agency over the next nine months, according to CEB (NYSE: CEB), a best practice insight and technology company. Like any large-scale leadership change, a new administration brings a different set of priorities, plans and timelines for the federal workforce to carry out. Agencies typically focus on making the transition easier on the incoming leader, but do not always account for the productivity cost of the change across the rest of the organization.   

"The administration transition isn't coming – it's here – and it brings with it a risk to employee productivity," said Liz Joyce, principal executive advisor, CEB. "In the face of this complex, large-scale change, agencies need to encourage remaining leaders to help employees focus their efforts on the right things to minimize efficiency loss. Organizations often delay talking to their employees about the transition, which results in people anticipating direction and wasting effort on things that are not high priority, and also increases the number of change resistant employees."

Agencies can tackle the productivity challenges employees face during an administration transition by employing the three Cs – capability, capacity and context.

The 3 Cs of an Administration Transition

1. Capability – Traditional change management frameworks center on building employee commitment or buy-in to the change – focusing on informing, explaining and rationalizing the change.

Instead, the best agencies focus on helping federal employees build their capability – or the set of information, skills and networks they need to perform. Capability has three times the impact as buy-in on employee performance during a large-scale transition. The key to driving employee capability is to focus on ensuring they have the resources they need to rebuild skills and networks that were disrupted as a result of the transition.   

2. Capacity – There is often a period during transition where there is an absence of strategic direction, creating job paralysis for federal employees. The fear of using resources on initiatives that incoming leaders could halt causes employees to enter into "operations-only" mode.

During this time, employees need guidance on where to direct efforts despite not knowing the priorities of their future leaders. Managers need to help employees find capacity – or the resources needed to execute strategic priorities – so that they can focus on the most critical objectives during the transition period. To do this, managers should adjust and adapt employees' roles, set interim performance goals that are achievable and clearly articulate how employees should spend their time.

3. Context – There are a multitude of books and trainings on how leaders can approach transitions. However, these tools don't give new leaders the historical context of the organization that is critical to their success.

A new leader's direct reports have considerable influence on the leader's success. Current employees provide critical organizational context to incoming leaders to help them make strategic decisions quickly. When transitioning new people in at the top, the best organizations use relationship-building activities to help new leaders establish and leverage internal networks.

About CEB

CEB is a best practice insight and technology company. In partnership with leading organizations around the globe, we develop innovative solutions to drive corporate performance. CEB equips leaders at more than 10,000 companies with the intelligence to effectively manage talent, customers, and operations. CEB is a trusted partner to nearly 90% of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100, and more than 70% of the Dow Jones Asian Titans. More at

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