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How to rebound, recover and restart growth

by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson

An economic downturn can impair your thinking by causing you to wait. You wait for better news, for the market to go up or for the manufacturer or government to do something to change your fortunes. You develop a "bunker" mentality, where you hunker down in your office to wait out the storm. You become less visible and accessible and develop a passive leadership style that causes you to maintain, rather than grow your distributorship. Following are three facts about a downturn, as well as five steps to rebound, recover and restart growth coming out of a recession:

  1. Passivity prolongs the duration of a downturn, whereas proactivity shortens it. When you take a proactive approach to an economic malaise, you don't have to participate in it as long as your competition.
  2. You must do all you can to end the crisis in your business quickly. The longer mediocrity lasts the more likely it is to become "business as usual," and the less likely it is that you will be able to reverse the damage to momentum and morale.
  3. You can't wish your way or wait your way out of a downturn. You must work your way out of a downturn. If the recession has caused you to lose your killer instinct, you must regain the upper hand within your enterprise now. The longer you stay in your box, the more likely it is to become a casket.

Five steps to rebound, recover and restart growth:
1) Focus more of your time, energy and resources on the aspects of your business that you can control. If you don't abandon the "blame game" and begin to take more responsibility for what you can control on a daily basis you'll become powerless. Blame is the anti-focus, and when you engage in it, you lose your personal power. Despite the convenience of blaming outside conditions for your woes, it is your inside decisions that exacerbate the effects of a recession. Whether you want to admit it or not, the downturn exposed your sins of the good times. It revealed where costs get out of hand, where you had gotten lax with recruiting, hiring, training, accountability and daily disciplines. These are all factors of your business that are within your control, and in order to restart growth, you must recommit yourself to them now .

2) Intensify your training. If you're seeing fewer opportunities and you still want to grow, you must maximize the customers and assets you already have. You can only accomplish this through more highly skilled employees led by stronger managers. Cutting training during a downturn is stupid and irresponsible. It's like flunking a test and then swearing off homework! Unless you take the time to rebuild your capacity to produce, you're unlikely to rebuild sustainable production. While you may covet production increases, increased capacity to produce must come first! In a downturn you've got more time than ever to train. Your job is to turn this downtime into prime time.

3) Act as a catalyst. The chances are good that some of your managers have stopped leading during the downturn. They talk like leaders but act like anchors. They have stopped stretching, changing, training and risking. Instead, they preside, administer and send out memos. They lead from the rear, rather than from the front. They don't interact with customers and fail to inspire or impact anyone working for them. Incidentally, this list of charges isn't limited to your managers, it may be a reflection of your own leadership sins. If this is the case, it's time for you to start leading again. Get more involved with your people and customers, become more decisive, take mature risks, change what needs changing and start making things happen now.

4) Redefine expectations. In a downturn, you're prone to lose sight of your organization's vision and mission. At the same time, performance expectations can become a joke. This weakens your culture and makes accountability impossible. Recast your vision as well as what you expect from each employee in terms of behaviors and numbers. Focus on shorter term goals that create a greater motivation for employees to do something now. Once you clear up where you're headed, what is expected and by when, you breathe fresh life into your business and create the conditions for renewed momentum and growth.

5) Recharge your emotional and creative batteries. It's common to become so busy trying to revitalize your business that you fail to renew yourself. Pursue greater balance in your personal life and it will reenergize you as you restart growth in your organization. Business will get better when you do. Make personal improvement in all aspects of your life a priority, lest your personal plateau becomes a lid on your organization's growth.

Dave Anderson is the author of No-Nonsense Leadership: Real World Strategies to Maximize Personal and Corporate Potential. He is a peak performance author, trainer and speaker for leadership and sales. For more information go to: www.LearnToLead.com, or call 650-941-1493.

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