Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

How Organizational Drag Is Wasting the Time, Talent and Energy of Your Agency’s Workforce

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Bill Brantley
November 7, 2022

People are the most valuable strategic assets in any organization. However, many senior organizational leaders are realizing that their workforce’s time, talent and energy make the organization successful. As Michael Mankins and Eric Garton explain in Time, Talent, and Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (2017), executives used to concentrate on financial decisions. Strong financial management was necessary because financial capital was scarce in industrial age companies. It took a lot of money to build a railroad, a factory or a laboratory. However, capital is abundant in today’s knowledge age.

What is not so abundant in the knowledge age are the innovative ideas that help organizations succeed. The creative ideas are, as Mankins and Garton write, “the product of individuals and teams who have the time to work productively, who have the skills they need to make a difference, and who bring creativity and enthusiasm to their jobs.” The best way to help individuals and teams produce innovative ideas is to manage their time, talent and energy better. Thus, senior leadership needs to focus on better managing the human capital by reducing organizational drag.

Organizational drag is familiar to anyone who has worked at an organization. Organizational drag is the cumulative effect of “needless internal interactions, unproductive or inconsequential meetings, and unnecessary e-communications.” Organizational drag wastes time and saps the workforce of its energy. It is not the employees’ fault that they are not productive. Instead, senior leaders need to remove these common organizational barriers to the employees’ time, talents and energy.


In the 1970s, an executive received up to 5,000 communications per year. In the 2010s, executives can expect to receive 50,000 communications yearly. Meeting time has also grown to where 15 percent of the workforce’s time is spent in meetings. Ironically, all these meetings and communications have increased the number of organizational silos because most interactions are informational and take place within departments rather than collaborative and across organizational units. “If all the e-communications and meetings were bunched up at the beginning of the week, [the employee] wouldn’t be able to start other work until late Thursday afternoon.”


I can’t agree with Mankins and Garton on dividing the workforce into the “Difference Makers” and the rest of the workforce. I believe with the proper coaching and development, all employees can be Difference Makers. However, I agree that organizations do not think strategically about how they build work teams that take the best advantage of their employees’ skills. Team building is still a lost art to many organizations. Government agencies would do well in launching team coaching programs to gain more benefits from high-performance teams collaborating effectively and efficiently.


Mankins and Garton suggest a pyramid of employee needs to help increase employee engagement in organizations. Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are basic things that companies can do to make employees feel satisfied with their jobs. Once employees are satisfied, organizations can then help employees feel engaged. Once employees are engaged, organizations can then strive to help employees feel inspired. It will take much work to help bring employees from satisfied to inspired, so what is the payoff?

A satisfied employee is 40 percent more productive than an unsatisfied employee. An engaged employee is 44 percent more productive than a satisfied employee. However, an inspired employee is 125 percent more productive than a satisfied employee! Imagine if you have a team of ten satisfied employees. If you could turn each of the team members into an inspired employee, you would have the productivity of a team of 25 employees without more salary costs.

Increasing Organizational Thrust and Reducing Organizational Drag

Mankins and Garton do not use the term “organizational thrust;” I coined it from the aeronautical concepts of drag and thrust. If organizations can better manage their workforce’s time and talent, then they will increase their workforce’s energy. A workforce of merely satisfied employees who become a workforce of 100 percent inspired employees will produce tremendous organizational thrust. The organizational thrust increases the number of innovative ideas and the difference makers to implement those ideas.

To measure the organizational drag in your organization, take the diagnostic at www.timetalentenergy.com. What ideas do you have about reducing organizational drag and increasing corporate thrust in your agency?

Author: Bill Brantley teaches at the University of Louisville and the University of Maryland. He also works as a Federal employee for the U.S. Navy’s Inspector General Office. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of his employers. You can reach him at http://billbrantley.com.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *