During my morning workout over the holidays, my iPod did not come on.  As usual with IPods, when this happens you must reset. This is done by holding down 2 buttons simultaneously. Then you wait 8 seconds and bravo you are ready to get it on.

During the 8 second wait, I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if life and or business for that matter were like that.  Get in a jam, hit reset.  Strategy does not work, hit reset.  Want to start over, hit reset.

Major change ahead for the organization.

By all indications the economy is moving towards recovery and companies are in the process of retooling for expanded growth.  During the downturn, companies were forced to streamline operations and restructure businesses, trying to hold on till the turnaround came into view.  There were such powerful drivers for change at work; recession ending, growth plans, employee engagement at all time lows.

I think 2011 will give organizations the chance to “reset”. There is a major paradigm shift taking place and we will in a lot of cases get a chance to start over. To even the most jaded executives, Human Capital has been identified as a competitive differentiators. In a recent survey the Aberdeen Group claimed that senior executives listed employee engagement as their number one concern. Now more than ever it is more important than people are committed to their job and their organization.  Engaged employees are prepared to give their non-mandatory effort.  The have a project based mindset.  Get the job done.

Problem is that faced with the dynamics of the post recession workforce, this reset paradigm will require a total commitment from the boardroom to the mail room. a new strategy needs to be installed

At the end of the year, there is a flurry of articles predicting, looking into crystal balls giving insight on what we can expect.  For the most part, all that I have read have highlighted several key issues.  However there is a common thread running through them all and employee engagement is “the elephant in the room.”

No easy solutions

The Internet gives us such a treasure trove of research and scholarly articles on just about every topic imaginable.  But along with that comes what I call the “get rich quick schemes” to employee engagement disguised as:

• Five steps to employee engagement
• 12 steps to measure engagement
• 10 steps for an effective employee engagement program.
• X steps to build a great engagement program.

We have all seen them throughout the blogosphere. If it were only that easy, we could have crafted our model at the end of the year.  Implemented in 1st Quarter and sit back and cruise throughout the rest of the year.  Yea, we could only wish.

Now What

There are no easy fixes for an issue that was years in the making.  It is like dealing with weight gain.  It took a while to put them on and it is going to take a while to get it off.  Regardless of what late night infomercials will tell you. There are no quick fixes in life.

The model of talent management strategy that you and your team construct will be based on a lot of symptoms.  In each company, the dynamics are different. But one thing is for sure; today’s people challenges are going to require a new approach.  HR Leaders and the senior business executives must work side-by-side to tackle the company’s most pressing people issues.  This relationship will have to be joined at the hip.  HR will have to better influence the business of people issues.  Some key components that will be needed are:

• A new company/HR “partnership”
• A New Mindset:  View people and HR as an investment, not just a cost
• Focus on business value, not HR value

So with all the talk now about the recovering economy, innovation and returning to profitability, let’s take a step back and think about that overpowering image in the room.  Yes, the elephant is still there and it will have to be dealt with.

“The real cause of success or failure… is always the people, not words.” -Marshall Goldsmith