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Fight the Enemies of a Unified Team

When I started this company, I didnt want any employees. I still dont. Instead, Ive got
a great team of people who are passionate about our company mission! Dave Ramsey

Look closely at any great company, and youll find a unified team. Look even closer, and
youll realize that culture of unity is intentionally created and protected. Most companies,
though, are made up of smart, talented people, who as a group, just cant get the job done.
If you have a team like that, you can be sure it is under attack from one or more of the
Five Enemies of Unity:
1. Poor Communication
2. Gossip
3. Unresolved disagreements
4. Lack of a shared purpose
5. Sanctioned incompetence

You can build unity in your company by fighting these enemies. Lets take a look at these
unity killers so youll be able to recognize them and fight them.

Poor Communication
Communication is the lifeblood of any organization. It is the grease that keeps the gears
moving. But most companies use mushroom communicationleave them in the dark and
feed them manure. That won't work. Winning organizations must have a culture of
communication. Without it, team members are detached and insecure.

You can take practical steps right now and create a culture of clear communication in
your business:
Shed some lightPeople want to know whats going on and why. When they are left in
the dark, they don't see themselves as a valuable part of a worthwhile venture. People
want to participate in something that matters, whether work or ministry. If they don't
know what is being accomplished, why it matters, and how they fit into it, they can't feel
good about their contributions.
When in doubt, over-communicate. If you mess up, adjust your approach next time and
either limit how much you share or share it in a different way.
Define the goalBe sure the group you're leading understands the expectations. Put them
in writing and agree on predetermined goals. Accountability will motivate your team
members, so require weekly reports of their progress to be turned in at a set time..
Carried to its extreme, a culture of secrets and missed opportunities generates fear. Fear
develops quickly when quality communication is missing.
Build a LegacySmart leaders pass on the legacy of their company. How did you get
where you are? Tell that story. Who sacrificed, refused to quit and paid the price for
success? Tell their story. Make these stories a part of your culture.
Create a mission statementA personal mission statement helps ensure that what
youre doing is in line with your life goals. If youre leading a group or team, create a
mission statement and have everyone memorize it, put it in their hearts, and make it part
of them. A team is not a team unless there is a shared goal and vision. They cant share it
if they dont know it.
Address problems thoughtfullyHave people bring problems only to someone who can
do something about them. Avoid impulse communication with your team when you are
angry or upset. Communicate in such a way that individuals arent harmed or
embarrassed. Handle issues the way youd want your own issues dealt with, or people
will question your integrity.
Remember, the greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been
accomplished. Communication should be attempted early and often, and it should be
It may be human nature for people to talk about each other, but that doesnt mean you
have to put up with it. It is impossible to create a unified team with a bunch of gossips.
Gossip pushes people apart instead of pulling them together, and everyone knows you
cant trust a gossip.

Gossip is unfair to everyone involved. Its unfair to the gossipers because they must toil
in a problem situation with no hope of resolution. Its unfair to others who hear the gossip
because it undermines passion for their work, confidence in their leadership and belief in
your vision. Its also unfair to you because you arent given the opportunity to address a
problem within your business.

Thats why there is a no-gossip policy at Daves company. Gossip is defined as
discussing anything negative with someone who cant help solve the problem. If youre
having computer problems, and IT is slow about helping you, you dont complain about it
to the sales rep in the break room. You talk to your leader because he or she can and will
do something about it.

If a team member is discovered gossiping, they receive one warning. After that theyre
fired, and, yes, Dave has fired people for gossiping and will do it again to keep it out of
his company.

Negative stuff will happen. That's inevitable. The negatives may be about a person or a
process. Either way, those issues need to be handed to a leader. If you're mad at your
manager, talk to another leader about it. Complaining to your teammates is disloyalty,
and it fosters a negative spirit that will trash the organization.

Dave and his team have a motto: negatives go up; positives come down. Team members
love it. They not only adhere to it, they enforce it. They are, after all, the real
beneficiaries of that policy. They can point to that rule with pride, and cut gossip off
before it has a chance to do any damage.

Unresolved disagreements
Most leaders dont realize that unresolved conflicts are destroying their businesses
theyre not even aware these conflicts exist! Thats a result of poor communication. Other
leaders avoid confrontation. Thats called denial. Either way, your team loses.
The weekly reportCommunication is the key to fighting this enemy of team unity. For
Daves team, that communication comes through their weekly reports. Each week every
team member emails a report to his or her leader and Dave. All leaders read their team
members' weekly reports and pass along any issues or concerns to Dave. That way,
leadership from all levels is involved with the day-to-day activities of the company.
Team members report their progress on their assigned tasks and relate their high and low
points of the week. This is where dissatisfaction and disagreements tend to be revealed,
directly or indirectly.
When a leader believes that one team member may be upset with another at work or has a
problem with an assignment or a process, the leader gets the involved parties together and
straightens things out.
Remove the splinterDeal with conflict like you would deal with a splinter: Pull it out
right away, even if it hurts. Don't leave it until its infected, causing even greater pain. A
little confrontation can wash out the wound and allow the parties to go forward in a spirit
of unity.
Leaders lead best when they pull out that splinter. Sometimes its messy. Sometimes it
doesn't work perfectly. But the alternative is to walk around and act like nothing is
happening and wonder why there's no unity.
Avoiding conflict is what normal companies do. Dave suggests you be weird. Normal
companies have employees. Dave never wanted that. He wantedand has always had
talented team members focused on the same goal, rather than ordinary employees who
are burdened with unresolved conflict.
Lack of Shared Purpose
Have you ever seen a football teama successful football teamthat didnt know where
the end zone was? That was made up of skilled players who had no idea what their roles
were in reaching the goal? Of course not. But every day, people show up to work with no
idea what the companys goals look like or how their work contributes to reaching
themand they are expected to be successful.
If your team is suffering from a lack of a shared purpose, its because you, as their leader,
have not restated your companys goal, vision and mission enough. Andy Stanley, a
noted pastor who leads a church with thousands of members, says you should recast your
vision every 21 days. When a company is growing and adding people, recasting the
vision is even more important. It might be repetitive to the old-timers, but its brand new
to a lot of people.
Dave goes over the mission statement and goals of his company every few months as part
of a weekly staff meeting. He asks the individuals who have been with the company less
than a year to stand, which visually illustrates to the veteran team members why it is
important to restate the mission early and often.
You can find new and creative ways to share your mission statement, but always
remember there is a goal. There has to be a goal. Otherwise, how can your people know
where they are headed or how much progress they are making?
What do you make and/or sell? What are your core values? Good leaders restate these
values over and over.
Dave's company doesn't pursue ideas that don't fall within the company's mission, even if
they have the potential to make money. They aren't opportunities; they are distractions.
Sanctioned Incompetence
When one team member is allowed to work less or consistently has a destructive attitude,
its a disaster waiting to happen. If you dont deal with the offending team member, the
rest of the team will become demoralized and resentful. You cant allow incompetence to
continue unchecked, whether its related to social interactions or job productivity.
If one person slacks off, the next person feels entitled to do the same. Soon, everyone is
working as little as possible. Spreading like a cancer, sanctioned incompetence quickly
becomes the lowest common denominator. In other words, the worst worker eventually
becomes the one setting the standard, simply because a spineless leader wont step up and
deal with the situation.
Sometimes the solution isn't pleasant. Some people thrive on conflict, or they're simply
determined to work as littleor get away with as muchas possible. When this happens,
the leader may have to set that person free to find a suitable environment for his or her
Fight for Unity
A unified team is worth fighting for. The Five Enemies of Unity are strong enough to
cripple and even destroy your business. There is going to be a lot of drama in any
workplace, but leaders must invest the time and energy to deal with issues instead of
blindly writing paychecks and hoping for the best.
But you wont fight alone. Once you teach your team to fight with you, they will be your
closest allies. They will fight to protect the culture you create because theyll recognize
that a unified team is successful and powerfuland its great to be part of one.
Want more teaching from Dave Ramsey? Check out the EntreLeadership Master Series
Event Dave teaches only twice a year for Business Leaders.

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