I just returned from 2 1/2 days in Nashville, Tennessee with Dave Ramsey’s organization, The Lampo Group. Myself, along with our Business Administrator and a lay leader from our church, participated in Ramsey’s Momentum Workshop. While we received some great training and thorough preparation for the Momentum campaign, our team, without a doubt, was most impressed with the organizational culture Dave Ramsey has created.
With approximately 260 employees, Ramsey has created a culture that has earned The Lampo Group, Nashville Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” in 2006, 2007, and 2008. One of the ingredients to creating a great work environment is clear core values embraced through an entire organization. While The Lampo Group has several core values, let me highlight four of them.
1. I Am Responsible – Ramsey has created an environment that expects every team member to be accountable for their work and performance. Every staff member that comes to work at The Lampo Group is required to read John Miller’s book, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life. The premise of Miller’s book is that rather than asking questions that shift the blame (“why”, “when”, or “who” questions), ask questions that begin with “what” or “how”, contain an “I”, and focus on action.
For example, rather than asking, “Whose going to solve the problem?”, ask, “How can I become part of the solution?” Instead of asking, “When is somebody going to train me?”, ask, “What can I do to develop myself?” The Lampo Group does not allow victim thinking or blaming others. Responsibility and accountability is embraced at every level.
2. No Gossip – Dave Ramsey takes this very seriously. If a staff member gossips, they receive a warning. If it happens again, they lose their job. Gossip is forbidden. Lampo’s policy is, “Negatives go up and positives go all around.” In other words, if you are talking to somebody who cannot fix the problem, then you are gossiping. Negatives go up–that is, they must be shared with your leader. Only the leader can address the negative issues. Positives on the other hand go all around. On Mondays during staff meetings, positive testimonies are often shared with the entire team. The organization has learned to celebrate victories.
3. Share the Wealth – Dave Ramsey is committed to sharing the profits of his company. When staff members perform, they are rewarded for their efforts. And the longer they perform with excellence, the greater those profits are. One staff member told me that when she was hired, the person interviewing her didn’t make a big deal about the profit sharing benefit. However, she was pleasantly surprised after her first month on the job. Dave Ramsey believes in taking care of his employees. If you perform, you will benefit. If you don’t, you will be held accountable.
4. Passion/Attitude/Customer Service – Every team member (and I mean EVERY team member) demonstrated passion, a positive attitude, and outstanding customer service while our team was on their campus. Each day we were greeted with smiles and enthusiasm. When we returned to our hotel rooms and when we headed to the conference each morning, books, chocolates, and gifts were awaiting us. The meals were great, the service was authentic, and the environment was very positive. And when we toured the organization’s building, we received nothing but warm reception, homemade sweets at the cafe, and humility and a positive attitude from each staff member we met. And when Dave Ramsey spoke to the group, it was obvious why the team possessed these qualities. Their leader is modeling the way.
Core values are much more than neat ideas hanging on the wall. They are shaping the behavior of Ramsey’s team. That’s how you know a value is the real deal–when it actually affects attitudes, behaviors, and practices. And at the center of the organizational culture at The Lampo Group is genuine servant-leadership.
Dave Ramsey has modeled servant-leadership and his team has embraced this value at every level. As we were leaving, we met the head of HR. One gentleman, from another church, was so impressed with the organizational culture that he asked for the man’s business card because he was considering applying for a job.
What are your core values? Are they penetrating your church or organization? What needs to change about your organizational culture? Are you leading the way?