At the HTA conference in October we got a mixed bag of positive and not so positive news regarding the state of the nation's economy and the timescale anticipated for the recovery. In the meantime we are all going to have to run fast just to stand still. So nothing really new there then.
Global economic meltdown aside, an intriguing question for anyone in business is how much your destiny is in your own hands and how much you are at the mercy of external factors over which you have no control.
I am sure that all of us can recall times when no matter how certain we are that we have done the right things at the right time, things still went pear-shaped. Likewise when we have been "winging" it a bit, things seemed to just fall into our lap. Saying it is just the "fickle finger of fate" is not an argument I have a lot of time for.
Golfer Gary Player is often quoted as saying: "The harder I practise, the luckier I get" and it is true that practice should make perfect. For me, that is not just a maxim that applies to individuals. I am a firm believer it is equally valid for businesses as a whole and the culture they develop.
I have never met anyone in business who has argued with Player's statement. That is why I am always baffled by the number of businesses whose first reaction to uncertain times is to cut back on training and development. In difficult times having well trained and motivated people can mean the difference between success and failure. Just like having a planned maintenance regime for your buildings and equipment, adopting a structured approach to training and development pays dividends over the long term.
Of course, in tough times you need to focus on the bottom line but you also need to ensure that your customers get the best levels of service. To do that you need to retain your best people and it is a fact that the best people are attracted to and remain loyal to businesses that show faith in them and invest in their development.
Guy Moreton is a director of MorePeople.