Building enforcement capacity, that is, attaining and sustaining control in order to implement changes, is crucial for the success of public management reforms. However, this aspect of public management reform does not receive much theoretical or empirical attention. This paper analyzes the process of building enforcement capacity for the case of the Mexican Professional Civil Service reform. Although this reform experienced several complications (e.g., limited support, resources, and credibility), important goals were attained and some control was achieved. We study how officials attained control over implementation through the adaptive management of combinations of different types of control strategies (regulatory, normative, and procedural). The case study, focused on the analysis of in-depth interviews with the highest officials involved in the implementation of this reform, finds evidence for three combinations of strategies next to a general pattern characterized by a trade-off between compliance and coordination. This trade-off shows that the process of building enforcement capacity may affect the goals of the reform, deviating from lawmakers' original intentions Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.