6 Critical Questions Every CEO Needs to Ask
Continually assess whether your business is fit for facing challenges

The ongoing changes and shifts in the competitive business environment of the construction industry seem to be making a CEO's job more challenging than ever. But, if the recent recession taught us anything, we need to be better prepared when the next slowdown appears.

To stay on top of what will be continual change, you need to keep asking yourself several critical questions to gauge how prepared your construction business will be when it is faced with a recession or an opportunity for rapid growth.

Am I pushing far and fast enough?

While you may think your financial statements will answer that question, the results are not a precursor to motivating and pushing the organization to enhance its performance. You should always push your company to go further and faster. Excellence is achieved and competition is crushed at the edges of the performance envelope.

Am I pushing too much?

Being the biggest company does not always mean you're the best, so you may be pushing the organization too much because your focus is on size rather than quality. Push your company to raise the bar on quality, innovation and service, rather than on revenue. If you push these other aspects that involve performance, the high margin revenue will follow naturally. There is nothing wrong with being a smaller company that is highly profitable and focused on continual improvement to maintain that quality, service and innovation.

Do we need to move to the next plateau?

You should be watching the company's numbers like a hawk, even when times are good. Failing to take action quickly will mean that recovery from that plateau will take longer. You need to examine the economy and consumer trends to identify why the company has slowed in terms of its results. An organization has no room for complacency, as it only perpetuates the slowdown in growth. Change is necessary at this point, so ask what you can change for customers and for employees to jump start growth. Think bolder, bigger and better.

What if the company lost half its sales overnight?

This may seem like a senseless question because you think it will never happen. It happened to many companies in the last recession, though. Considering this question will force you to think in an unconventional way. Asking this question also forces you to look at the weak spots in the company and fix them before it is too late.

Where is the next threat, and am I prepared for it?

Often, business owners assume that the absence of problems means that business conditions are positive. When revenue is up and you are on top, you may not notice what is coming. This happened to many businesses during the last recession. However, silent business killers always lurk if you are not actively looking and listening for what is going on in your company.

This means you should be thinking about potential risks and threats, noticing what is going on in and around the organization, studying results and asking questions. This will help you identify the next big threat, whether it comes from within or from a competitor. Seeing the big picture is important, but so is seeing the smaller details that comprise the big picture.

Are we aligned in mission, purpose and outcomes?

You need to make sure the organization's culture reinforces the purpose, outcomes and strategic goals of the company. It will take time to convince the organization to embrace a culture that is precise, team-oriented and focused on excellence, but is only possible if the company's culture and strategic goals are aligned. Employees will see the relevance and value of that culture and will make an extra effort to embrace it as a necessary component to fulfilling their own responsibilities. This alignment becomes especially important in the midst of a crisis, such as the recent recession, because it can strengthen the bond between employees and encourage the type of action that yields success in the face of such a crisis.

To prepare your company for any challenge, ask yourself these six questions on a regular basis.