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According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the U.S. economy has gone through eight cycles of recession since 1960. This means the United States has found itself in a correction/recession every eight years in the past 56 years. The economy is now in its seventh year of official growth since 2009. These statistics suggest that in the next 18 to 24 months, the economy will face headwinds, or market correction.

For those in a leadership position, the question is: if these statistics are correct, how do you position your company not only to survive but to continue to grow during times of economic headwinds? Successful companies see growth in an economic correction by adopting the following nine principles.

1. Be Honest
When it comes to the economic climate and the company’s performance, the most important thing is to be realistic. Stay current on market conditions, and identify areas of weakness or those in need of adjustment in the company so they can be addressed in a timely manner.

2. Work Hard and Smart
Everyone at the company, from the C-suite to the interns, needs to be giving their best efforts for the company to succeed in challenging economic times. Establish clear expectations for attendance and productivity, and ensure that company leaders model those behaviors for other employees. In addition, make sure all employees are using their time wisely; provide the environment and support the team needs to accomplish goals efficiently and consistently.

3. Recommit Energy and Focus
When financial times are good, it is easy to relax and grow complacent. However, do not let that state become the baseline for effort. Find ways to reinvigorate leadership and the rest of the team’s focus on the big picture. Put renewed energy behind those efforts to understand and serve the industry’s needs.

4. Work With a Servant’s Heart
Shift the mindset from “how will this serve us?” to “how can we serve you?” True service to others not only increases personal happiness and improves employee engagement, but it also deepens relationships with customers and elevates the company’s brand in its industry and community.

5. Improve the Team
Again, do not fall victim to complacency. Constantly seek out ways in which the company can improve, whether it’s by analyzing the best ways to use new construction technologies or streamlining communication between office and field personnel. In big ways and small, focus on improving—do not settle for maintaining the status quo.

6. Challenge the Team
One of the key indicators of employee engagement and company productivity is how challenged employees feel in their roles. Provide opportunities for challenging assignments and professional development. When employees feel challenged rather than stagnant, their performances improve and the company’s bottom line sees results.
7. Seek New Opportunities
As the headwinds take effect, the business opportunities in the company’s comfort zone may become more scarce and competitive in nature. Look for ways in which the company can expand, whether by developing relationships with new clients or expanding its portfolio into new, related markets.

8. Avoid a Sense of Entitlement
Whatever the company has accomplished in the past, and no matter what its industry reputation is, the company will still have to prove its value as the economy changes and other companies compete for a place in the market. Success will come to those who work for it, not those who simply believe they deserve it.

9. There Are No Shortcuts
The reality is that succeeding in a competitive, ever-evolving business landscape is a challenge even at the best of times. Do not waste time or energy looking for the easiest path forward. There is simply no substitute for hard work, commitment and service.

Following these directives can make a big difference in a down market. Construction is booming now, but headwinds are coming—as they always do. It is always a smart move to be prepared.

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