“Off the Wall” Podcast

Our podcast is aimed at helping you answer the questions, “What is the purpose of my wealth and how can I make that vision a reality?” As Wealth Managers, we’re skilled at helping our clients think through these challenging, but important, questions. Let’s dive in!

Scaling Your Business, Vision, & Leadership Skills | Seneca Smith

Loading icon

Are you a founder or business owner who’s looking to scale your vision, develop high-level leadership skills, or transition from startup to corporate? Then you’ll want to tune in to this lively discussion with our special guest, Seneca Smith, Senior Manager in the Human Capital Practice at Deloitte Consulting. 

In this episode of Off the Wall, hosts David Armstrong and Jessica Gibbs talk to Seneca about her experience working with leaders to scale their businesses, vision, and leadership skills. She provides key insights such as why all founders should hire a leadership coach, how to align your business and workforce strategies, and what to do if you’re stuck in the Norming stage of business growth. Plus, Seneca shares tips and advice on how you can better delegate responsibilities, so you’re not stuck wearing all the hats as a founder. 

In her work at Deloitte, Seneca advises businesses on how to approach global transformation, specifically focusing on defining the future of work, designing adaptable organizations, and preparing leadership and the workforce for change.

Please see important podcast disclosure information at https://monumentwealthmanagement.com/disclosures.  


“One of the challenges of getting stuck at ‘norming’ is you are now in a place that is comfortable: You are hitting your targets and doing work in a way that feels operationally efficient—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re achieving innovative goals. You’re not getting to that next stage of performing and really stretching. One of the reasons might be for that fear that you would fall back into ‘storming’ phase because performing includes an element of risk.” – Seneca Smith 

Episode Timeline/Key Highlights:

[00:52] Introducing Seneca Smith & the topic of today’s episode.
[01:57] Forming, Storming, Norming, & Performing.
[02:52] What should founders be thinking about and doing when going from startup to formal business (from Forming to Storming)?
[04:36] Scaling your vision for your business.
[11:06] What to do if you’re stuck in the Norming stage & How to break into the Performing stage.
[14:01] Wearing all the hats isn’t sustainable for founders. How can founders better delegate tasks? How do their leadership skills evolve?
[17:17] Signs you need to hire a leadership coach.
[20:05] Dave’s experience as a founder working with a leadership coach.
[23:35] Aligning your business strategy with your workforce strategy + tips for outsourcing.

Resources Mentioned:

Learn more about Deloitte Consulting: https://www2.deloitte.com

About Seneca Smith:

Seneca is a Senior Manager in Human Capital Practice of Deloitte Consulting. She focuses on strategic organizational / workforce transformation and readiness. She advises Financial Services clients engaged in redesigning their core business operations, workforce strategy, and technical landscape. She uses human-centered design thinking to tackle transformation, with a focus on leadership alignment, change management, culture, and employee engagement.

Seneca focuses primarily in the insurance sector and has served a broad cross-section of the industry. Her clients include AIG, New York Life, Prudential, Travelers, CNO, Securian, State Farm, Lockton, Auto Club Group, FIS, Bank of America, and Guardian Life.

Connect with Seneca:

Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/senecamsmith


(Please note: Transcriptions are generated automatically, may not be completely accurate, and should not be relied on.)

Jessica Gibbs: Hi, Dave.

David Armstrong: Hey, Jessica. It’s great to be back live in the pod studio.

Jessica Gibbs: Yes, we are literally sitting right next to each other today, which I love. But we have a wonderful guest on today. This is, again, one of those episodes. I kind of include this in our last episode where we talked about a Q1 market recap. I said we have a lot of really awesome content coming up for business owners. And today’s guest is one that I am particularly thrilled to introduce. She’s a very close friend of mine. I’ve been perpetually impressed by her ever since middle school. Seneca Smith, welcome to the podcast. So Seneca is a senior manager in the Human Capital Practice at Deloitte Consulting, where she advises businesses on how to approach global transformation. Specifically, she focuses on defining the future of work, designing adaptable organizations and preparing leadership and the workforce for change. Her clients include New York Life, Prudential, Travelers, to name a few. So that’s really going to be our focus of our conversation today is about scaling your business, which I’m really excited to dive into with you.

David Armstrong: Yeah, me too. Thanks for coming in.

Seneca Smith: Absolutely. Happy to be here.

Jessica Gibbs: Yeah. So before I start with questions, I’m just going to do a little bit of a preface because I think when it comes to thinking about scaling your business. Inherent in that is, teams. And so this is something we talk a lot about at Monument as it relates to business paths, but it’s something that I don’t know if everyone knows. So quick preface. So in 1965, a psychologist named Bruce Tuchman developed a phrase to describe the path that teams follow on their way to high performance: forming, storming, norming and performing. So forming is that scrappy startup phase. It’s when people are just focused on what needs to get done and keeping the business alive. Storming is where your efforts are underway, but people still need clarity about their activities and their goals, and they need explicit guidance on how to work together. Norming is when the team has clarified its purpose. There are norms and how the team operates and people are starting to resolve their differences on their own. And performing is where your team is full of potential. The team is working together easily on interdependent tasks. They’re communicating and coordinating effectively and their motivation is high. So, Seneca, I want to start at the beginning of that path. So if a business is moving from that startup forming phase to a more formal business, what should a founder be thinking about and doing?

Seneca Smith: I think the most important thing at that early stage is when you’re moving something, especially if you’re starting out on your own as a founder, is the idea that you’re going to have to start sharing the responsibilities of your business. And that’s a big shift in how you’re thinking about the work that you’re doing. And on a small scale, it’s moving from probably one person to two or five large organizations do this to as they start from kind of small teams who wear a lot of hats across them to begin to bring in other people in their workforce to distribute those responsibilities. So as a founder, and you’re really thinking about what does that take to get me from where I am, the person who is both turning the lights on in the morning and managing my 1099s at the end of the year? How do I start to differentiate what I am doing uniquely as a founder to help this business grow? And then the responsibilities that are important to give to someone else. And as you’re starting to shift those responsibilities, how do you work through that storming phase to help provide clarity and a vision to these other individuals that you’re bringing in or work that you’re outsourcing to other teams or things like that to help keep your vision clear while you’re still growing the different capabilities that you need so that you’re not the person turning the lights on in the morning anymore and really focused on that strategy that is making you successful.

Jessica Gibbs: I feel like that’s something like as a small business, like Monument in particular, like we’ve talked about vision like so often through the years and I think it’s an ongoing conversation. You can’t just like spend a weekend and figure out I have our vision statement set for the next ten years. So like, how can you have thoughts on how founders should be thinking about vision when it moves beyond, ‘This is my idea for the business, and this is the contribution that I can make’. And now it’s, I have all these team members like and you have to like. Build that vision even further, make sure it’s being conveyed right. It’s like the team is understanding what’s in your head, like how you should have found or be thinking about that.

Seneca Smith: I think there’s a quote that I’m going to misquote a little bit, but it was someone walking around the floor of NASA and talked to a janitor and said, What’s your job here? And the janitor said to put a man on the moon. So as you think about being a founder and expanding your business, everyone’s role needs put in context of that larger vision. So a janitor, right, knows their job is to clean the floors, but they understand that they are doing it because the organization is putting a man on the moon. So when you think about as a founder, how do you articulate your vision to yourself? What do you want to achieve? And then how are you framing it in a way that makes sense for the folks that are working with you as you bring on someone who’s going to be responsible for your operations? You as a founder are not going to tell them how to do their job of operations. That’s why you hired someone to do operations. What you are going to do is help translate your vision for growing that organization, for that operations leader. So you’re bridging between the vision and then what these folks are doing, which also helps move through that storming phase because you’re separating out the work that you used to do yourself to this broader team and making those connections for them. So it is not as simple as a vision on a piece of paper. It’s helping translate that. So it’s really practical for everyone who’s working with it.

David Armstrong: Yeah, I think sometimes people will go through the process of trying to create a vision. They’ll put it on paper and then just sits there on paper and, you know, the janitor never knows what the vision really is. And just drawing on my own experience too. Like sometimes visions change a little bit, especially in that storming stage too. And, and it’s kind of interesting. I just reflect back on, you know, 15 years here. I mean, the vision’s always been kind of the same, but there’s been rudder corrections here and there about how to best tune that vision up. But getting everybody on board is really super important.

Seneca Smith: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Jessica Gibbs: Do you think that was the most difficult part? Dave?

David Armstrong: So, I think if we’re going to go back to and Bruce Tuckman, I hope credited Dr. Seuss a little bit with his book. But, you know, if I think back to the forming stage, what I thought what Dean and I thought Monument was going to look like is radically different than where it is today. And that’s just 15 years. So if you think, okay, I’m going to create this enduring vision statement that last 15 years hours lasted 15 minutes, I think, but you have to start somewhere. And so we did. So we formed the organization and then it was all about just the forming stage. Like just do what needs to get done to get it started. Then we entered the storming stage and that’s where you start to discover that maybe what everybody thought they were signing up for with the vision wasn’t necessarily what they were really wanting to do. So some personalities start to emerge and then you’re like, Okay, well, maybe you’re not a great person to be carrying the vision forward. And then there’s your storming, right? There’s some of the human dynamics of storming and then into the norming stages where I really kind of consider Jessica basically went right around time you came on. I feel like that’s when we were really norming because we had a few partners that didn’t really want to see the vision through all the way, and they self-selected out. And now we are where we are, and I think we’re now we’re really in 15 years kind of executing on that vision.

Jessica Gibbs: Yeah, sorry.

David Armstrong: This is a no no.

Seneca Smith: And I’m ready to ask you questions now. Hey, let it go.

David Armstrong: Tell me how much you charge an hour… Please! (laughter)

Jessica Gibbs: Just listening to you, I’m like, my perspective would be if I were a founder, listening to your advice before Seneca, it would be to give myself some patience that like if Dave is talking about it took 15 years to really crystallize the vision and make sure you had a team that was in place that was supporting and executing on that vision and on board with it. Like you got to give yourself some credit that this is not going to be something that you can do right away.

Seneca Smith: So 15 years… I have a client that’s a bit on the smaller side and we actually were just talking about their founders vision and they actually found archival footage from the last 30 years. He’s since passed away, but the last 30 years and this man spoke his vision consistently for 30 years. They were actually able to splice together videos from the mid eighties, late eighties, early nineties, early 2000s, and it was word for word the same. I have to say it was a little bit unnerving, like it is a company large enough to hire Deloitte. So like they started quite small, but they’ve done well for themselves. So but there’s something there in the fact that. So you say vision evolves. I think it’s application of visions, right. Like and maybe this person 30 years wasn’t his whole career. The first ten years he had to figure out what that vision was going to be that he could then keep saying for 30 years. So I do think in that kind of forming storming phase, there’s a lot of trial and error. And then when you get the formula that works for you, you bring everyone on board. So I think to your point of, you know, having people self-select out of the journey that you’re going on is an important part of it. Having a workforce that is bought into where you’re trying to go, what you’re trying to achieve, the way that the workforce themselves now I say workforce, big organization, but team, you know, in a smaller context how you’re going to grow and develop together because that is a central part of kind of having a founder and growing that vision with a small community. You want to have folks who are bought into that and going to help you grow it in their particular channels.

David Armstrong: Right. And I also, when I hear the term storming, I see a big gray cloud over that word, right? That means when bad things are happening.

Jessica Gibbs: Or I have visions of like war. Right? People running up the hill. Yeah.

David Armstrong: And it’s I don’t think storming is a bad stage. I just think it’s a necessary stage and it’s a likely stage. But then you get into the norming stage. I think we – Monument – go back and forth between performing and then sometimes we go back to storming if there’s new ideas or we’re trying to change something like that. So I don’t know if it’s this linear process that you go through one through four and you don’t come back. But I think if I look at the back and forth that we’ve done here, I feel like we spend a lot of time in norming stage. That’s kind of where we live. And then we have a performing stage and then the market goes down 20%. (laughter) So we got to live in the norming stage. But if you’re a business and you’re stuck in that norming stage, we really haven’t progressed up into that performance stage and you want to get there. What are some things that business owners monument should consider doing to break out of that norming stage and into that true performing stage?

Seneca Smith: Yeah, I think what’s often the challenge of breaking through norming is the fact that storming was painful, right? So whatever it looked like, there’s probably some pain associated with it, even if it was all for the good, right? Because I agree with you. Like storming is called storming because it’s not the greatest feeling, but it’s a necessary step and you get through it. And as if you’re kind of self-aware going into it as an organization, you tussle it out. Right? I think one of the challenges of getting stuck at norming is you are now in a place that is comfortable, You are hitting your targets. You are doing work in a way that feels operationally efficient, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re achieving innovative goals, right? You’re not getting to that next stage of performing and really stretching. One of the reasons might be for that fear that you would fall back into storming phase because performing includes an element of risk. You’re putting a little bit of risk in how people are working to go after those larger targets, to start to move in spaces that are maybe not specifically within your remit. So I think there’s an element of just having some risk tolerance. That growth is part of our agenda. We want to continue to evolve and grow and some of that has to do with how are you actually organized as a team and how are you doing work? Did you hire your operations manager and are they just continuing to do operations day to day? Or have you really looked ahead and around the corner? And what do we need to do to continually restructure ourselves to respond to a 20% dip in the market or whatever the case may be?

Jessica Gibbs: Or losing a bit client.

Seneca Smith: And, consider the technology that I mean, like ChatGPT, right? I am in no way qualified to talk about that, other than the fact that it will be disruptive to certain types of business. So how do you make sure that your business isn’t just doing the same thing and not proactively looking about how to respond to disruptions that are definitely going to come? And a lot of that has to do with being thoughtful around the types of work that are being done by different members of your team, different members of your again, I’ll say outsource team, but you know, a group of team members and this sometimes also moves the decision authority too. So moving from that norming phase where probably you as the founder still carry a lot of the decision rights. Performing might mean sharing some of those decision rights a little more broadly than you’re used to. So that again, that’s kind of the risk management, the risk movement to other people, but it allows for better outcomes because you’re bringing more diversity of thought of working into the way your organization operates.

Jessica Gibbs: Yeah. I want to ask a little bit more about that because I think that’s really interesting because there is a tendency for founders, it’s like, I want to own all the hats, I want to have all the veto power. This is my business, it’s my baby that I created and I grew. So but as you said, like, that’s not sustainable. So how do leaders transition? Can you talk a bit more about that.

David Armstrong: Yes, can you please tell me. (laughter)

Jessica Gibbs: Because you mentioned leadership skills, So like, how do those need to evolve?

Seneca Smith: So it’s one of the interesting things I mentioned this client, it’s a big part of where they are having a growth moment. They have all of their leaders, all of their doers, where you have 15 hats each and working with them and helping them kind of as they actually just add more people to their team. How do you carve out responsibilities and feel like you can hand it off to someone and not feel responsible anymore? One part of this is the boring things around governance and like a RACI model and decision rights. And those are a little corporate. What that looks like in practicality is really spending time and focusing on the fact that I’m aware that I am giving up some of the things that I used to do and I know where I’m going. So with this particular client, what we did to work together was we actually mapped out those jobs you should be doing in five years and went through, these things you should be responsible for. These are the things that your teams should be doing and actually mapped out that list. She looked at it and she’s like, I’m not doing any of these things today. I was like, I know, but how are you going to get there? So that requires all these things that we just said Your team needs to do great. You need to get a team that’s going to do those things. So some of it is very individual. How do you as a leader, what is the job you think you should be doing five years from now? How far is that from the job you’re doing today? And then are you set up to have people come in and do that job, automate that job, or just decide that that job is no longer necessary because your business is growing and maturing? And I think also I feel like it’s not necessarily talked about as much, or at least not in the forums that I’m in. My goodness, everyone should have a leadership coach at some point, right? Like, there’s just that external perspective of how do you think about the job you’re trying to do? And do you have someone kind of asking you, do you really know? So the context a little bit of this client is they had a new leader come in who was asked like, what’s the vision of this company? He had a leadership coach and this is who asked him and he gave his answer. And the leadership coach said, that’s pretty bad.

Jessica Gibbs: Oh, my Gosh.

Seneca Smith: And that’s kind of how they went on this whole exercise of like, oh my gosh, what’s the vision of this company? It’s very successful, but we don’t know how to articulate it. And that’s how when they found all this archival footage of like, oh, it’s actually a very clear vision, we just have never memorialized it. So the point there is the leadership coach kind of helps you get that external perspective. So I think it’s often not something people think about or they think about maybe earlier in their career. But there are many points and reasons to have an external lens to help you think about how might I grow in this next juncture of my career to get to that next level?

Jessica Gibbs: I’m just curious. So I agree with you. Like when you’re early twenties in your career, it’s drilled into your head to like find a mentor, you know, all that. So you’re past that, right? What’s a sign for a founder or a leader or an organization listening to this now? Like what’s a sign that they need to be hiring a leadership coach?

Seneca Smith: When you’re comfortable.

Jessica Gibbs: When you’re comfortable?

Seneca Smith: We talked about, how do you get from norming to performing. If you’re comfortable, you’re not pushing yourself.

David Armstrong: Well, that’s a good point. Yeah, it’s funny because I’ll make a couple of analogies that won’t sound like they’re going to connect, but they will, I promise. Jessica, looking at me like I’m going to go off on something.

Jessica Gibbs: No, it’s fine, I’m ready. (laughter)

David Armstrong: You said something before about getting to the performing and hiring somebody to come in and like, are those the things that you should be doing in five years? I will tell you that one of the things that owners should look out for, and this is based on my own, is that it’s I’m going to use this like renovating a kitchen in your house. Okay. If you renovate the kitchen in your house that you’ve lived in for 15 years because you’re putting it on the market to sell it and you want to make it more attractive for the seller, you just lost the value and use of the 15 years of that great kitchen. You should put that kitchen in your one, lived in it and then, you know, sell the house and have it be nice. So that connects a little bit to this, too, because if you spend all of your time doing, doing, doing, doing, doing and never create that structure for people to get into your seat until you’re at retirement age, you haven’t really enjoyed running a business because you never brought those people in prior to that. And I think that may be a mistake that I see people make too, is that they never bring somebody in for a succession plan, right? Until they’re at retirement age. And they just they never really enjoyed running the business. And that’s why I look at Jessica, because Jessica is a partner here, Right. And so I look at it now and I think sometimes I feel guilty watching Jessica do some of the things that I used to do. Compliance. She loves doing the compliance. She loves it.

Jessica Gibbs: You feel guilty about that? (laughter)

David Armstrong: Sometimes I feel bad that she’s doing all of this. And then sometimes I’m like, No, but first of all, she has to do this if she wants to run the firm some day. And two, I kind of like not doing it. Sorry.

Jessica Gibbs: I know. Yeah. I mean, me being a G2. Like, as and as an example, it’s like you learn by doing so you would need a founder or an owner to put you in a position where you’re actually going to be able to get your feet wet doing the things that they want you to do.

David Armstrong: But then you’re the founder, the owner, and you’ve got nobody above you being that mentor or like giving you that guidance. This is where I come into my second thing, too, because I spent a career in the military and there’s nowhere in the military where you don’t have a mentor/boss, right? Even the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the President of the United States above them. Right. So like you come up through a military structure. There’s always somebody above you that can tell you you’re doing a good job or not doing a good job. So I go from that environment to boom also. And I start this. I’ve got no one telling me anything. Right. Except turnover of employees. Right. Okay. Yeah, because that’s a that’s a pretty good sign. Yeah. Yeah, It’s just an expensive metric. And then I’ll tell a quick story because this is important to the point. This is a long time ago before Jessica even joined the firm. We were sitting down having a partners meeting. We had actually hired a leadership coach. And this is sometimes where the leadership coach comes in and tells you things that you don’t want to hear. You looked at one of the partners and said, If you’re in charge of this company tomorrow, every single person in this firm would quit inside of 12 months. He said it right across the dinner table, you know, And that was a massive sign to everybody that I hadn’t done an effective job mentoring somebody. Dean hadn’t done a like we just weren’t or they weren’t receptive to it or whatever the reason was. So you’ve got to get those people telling you what to do, because until that point, I never realized that about somebody else working here in the firm.

Seneca Smith: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, come on, Why do you hire consultants? Sometimes to deliver bad news to your organization. So that’s not so surprising. But having that outside perspective is really critical, I think, to make sure that you’re not stuck in the myopic sounds too negative, but kind of stuck in the pursuit of the business that you’re hoping to or you’re creating and that you are pushing out into the market. So getting third party perspective is valuable at different times.

David Armstrong: You probably play a coaching role a lot. Do you have a good example of a success story there?

Seneca Smith: One of my clients and I right now are plotting her job five years from now. So it’s a great symbiotic relationship of the world that she’s working in today. We are delivering implementation consulting services, but the way that I get to work with her as a leader is this great work we’re doing in the universe you own. Now let’s talk about how that would play if your role was three levels up from this, what could that look like across your organization? Again, much broader organization, very hierarchical, but having that conversation of what are the behaviors, how are you showing up in different rooms have been a lot of our conversation and frankly, sharing like leadership books. Have you read this one? How are you doing that? And just creating those conversations that are away from the day to day and really focused on the different ways in which you can operate to demonstrate that you are already thinking about the next room that you’re not yet working in?

David Armstrong: Yeah, interesting. I think it’s really important that you align your people with your strategy, getting that workforce strategy all aligned with your business. We talked about vision before we skipped our mission. I mean, all of these things kind of fit in there. But let’s talk some more about how you have seen and you advise your clients on aligning their business strategy with their workforce strategy, because now I’m a little bit out of my element because aligning my workforce, right? I mean, there’s ten people that work here, right? Yeah.

Jessica Gibbs: Everybody’s yeah, it’s really different for a small business person.

David Armstrong: Right, right, right.

Jessica Gibbs: But as you work.

David Armstrong: With a lot of people who listen to this have bigger businesses.

Seneca Smith: So now we talked about having that vision, having your mission, and then having a business strategy that actually is a little more operational is really critical. And actually we sometimes find, even with our larger clients, that they’ve not quite well defined their business strategy. So that’s an important step just to put that out there. And then the talent strategy is just like you would think about if you are a sales organization and you are looking to get your customer relationship management technology in place, it is important that you’re going to find the best technology that delivers the capabilities that you need to do that work. Think about your workforce in the same way. Who are the salespeople and others that you need to best deliver on the business strategy you’re trying to achieve. I’ll use sales because that’s common to think about. But that may not mean that you need full time salespeople. That might mean that you could contract it out. Maybe you’re selling something that is in fact a physical product and you only need to sell it once a quarter. Do you need to have a full time salesperson on staff? Now? It’s a bad example because yes, you do. But in that scenario, if you’re selling something irregularly, how do you get a workforce in place that is just delivering on that specific need of your business? So I think it’s what we talk about a lot with my clients. But as relevant for small and midsize businesses as well is do you need each full time person doing every job in our current kind of gig economy and where you can hire component parts of people’s time or skills? It’s really focusing on the skills you need to get the work output that helps you achieve your business strategy. So the idea that you need a 20 person team to do everything in your business strategy might actually mean that you have a team that ebbs and flows over the course of the year. You bring contractors in and out. You hire some people for part time work, maybe you fully outsource some things that can be automated. So I mean, a lot of folks outsource payroll, right? I think that’s been historically who wants a payroll manager on their balance sheet until they absolutely have to. So it’s just applying that same concept to other parts of your business, whether it’s your technology workforce or so I think this is a little more actually normalized with small businesses because you already are in the habit of kind of contracting out to capabilities you would never want to have in-house. Like a podcast. I was going to say.

David Armstrong: Video.

Jessica Gibbs: Perfect example.

David Armstrong: If you want to work here for free. I’ve got a job for you.

Seneca Smith: Right. Very compelling. Yes. (laughter)

David Armstrong: (laughter)

Seneca Smith: So I think that vendor ecosystem is actually where smaller companies are generally a little more fluent in it because that is just how you have had to grow. I think expanding pieces of the work that are closer to your core business that you could get more comfortable moving into that contractor vendor relationship. Again, talking about the performing that moves the risk out because you’re contracting out that work, but it could give you greater returns as you’re freeing up capacity of your core workforce. And what’s interesting as we talk about it is my larger clients, they’re kind of still getting comfortable with that idea that you would have a much more mixed contract environment to bring in the best type of work. So, you know, there’s historically some things have been vendor managed like payroll or things like that. I think one of the things you can think about with outsourcing is even with some of those, we’ve been talking a lot about an operations manager. So maybe the person you hired as an operations manager pretty early on has now come to be quite strategic. So what of that like core skill set could now be moved to someone off balance sheet? That doesn’t happen all the time. So that that operations manager who knows your business can continue to grow in their career, which also helps from that talent strategy perspective because you’re also providing opportunities for the members of your team that are bought into the mission and the vision and have helped this organization grow. You still give them opportunities to grow in their career, even if they’re not on that partner track internally. What are other ways that your kind of functional teams can continue to grow and evolve their work as that’s such a critical part of, you know, workforce experience and growth and development and retention based on everything we see today in the workforce.


David Armstrong: But even if you outsource a lot, you’re still going to have your core group of people. Right. And I’ve seen a couple of different things. So I’m going to tell you what I’ve seen that because I want to elicit a response from you. I’ve seen a couple of different kind of strategies. I’ve seen that people who say you operate the business with the team you have. Right. The military model, the Donald Rumsfeld we deploy with the military that we have today. And then you’ve got the civilian organizations transitioning from that military analogy to an organization that says we are always going to find that, to use an overused cliche, like find the right people in the right seat in the bus kind of thing. And they’re constantly changing and optimizing their work strategy. Have you had any experience seeing either or both of those kind of models in action and pros and cons of or any stories there about how people have worked on their workforce, either with saying like, I’m going to optimize the team I have or I’m going to change the seats on the bus.

Seneca Smith: So this is where I spend a lot of time right now and with my clients specifically in their tech organizations, because there is a dearth of tech talent. Right? You heard in my introduction I work primarily with insurance companies. Unfortunately, a lot of technologists are not so keen to work for insurance companies. I know it’s surprising. And so what are we what are we consulting on with these organizations? It’s how are you keeping folks who are already within your organization and developing them in a way so that they are serving the business needs that you have? And that is almost 100% of what I talk about right now with my clients because there aren’t seats to move around on the bus and certainly in the market that we’re in right now, that that may be the case for a little while. So it is really a focus on identifying the skills that you need at any size business. And then how far is your current workforce from having those skills and then what kind of learning and development will you invest in to get your workforce to where they need to be? And we’re really seeing that as the best way to invest in your workforce versus trying to go acquire, acquire, acquire the skills you need. Really that internal investment will get you the better ROI on your workforce. So that’s where we’re seeing a lot of organizations focus that at the outset. It feels like heavy spend on learning and development and professional development upskilling, but it also allows you to keep that company culture. The knowledge of for my insurance clients, the 30 year old systems and still coding in COBOL, but then learning to work in an agile fashion so you can do both things at the same time and kind of keep the best of what you started with and build on to that. The new and evolving skills that help keep you current in the world you’re trying to get to.

David Armstrong: Yeah, interesting, because I do see some examples in real life of that, you know, trying to optimize your workforce or changing it. And so I just talk without using names. A friend of mine from the military who got out and wanted to join the wealth management field and he’s like, okay, I want to be a planner. And he kept getting hired for these jobs that that were administrative in nature under the premise of if he did a good job in the administrative role, that they would make them planner and then they never make him the planner. So then he gets a new job. They say the same thing. This isn’t his fault. It’s the company’s fault. And I keep thinking, like, here are these firms that are just churning through these people. Why not just hire for the role that you pay them enough to want to do the role? Don’t hire somebody that wants to do something else just because you have an immediate need. And I just think that’s such an inefficient, financially inefficient way. Not to mention culturally such an issue.

Seneca Smith: Absolutely.

David Armstrong: He’s going to landed a great job someday.

Jessica Gibbs: Well, this has been amazing. Thank you so much, Seneca. I really appreciate you sharing your expertise today.

Seneca Smith: Happy to be here. Thank you so much.

Seneca Smith: It was fun! So good to spend time with you both.


Connect with Monument Wealth Management:

Visit our website: https://bit.ly/monumentwealthwebsite
Follow us on Instagram: https://bit.ly/MonumentWealthIG
Follow us on Twitter: https://bit.ly/MonumentWealthTW
Connect with us on LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/MonumentWealthLI
Connect with us on Facebook: https://bit.ly/MonumentWealthFB
Connect with us on YouTube: https://bit.ly/YouTubeMWMFit

About “Off the Wall”:

OFF THE WALL is a podcast for business professionals and high-net-worth investors who want to build wealth with purpose. A little bit Wall Street, a little bit off-the-wall; it’s your go-to for straightforward, unfiltered wealth advice on topics that founders, business owners, and executives care about.


Please remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Monument Capital Management, LLC [“Monument”]), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Monument. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. No amount of prior experience or success should be construed that a certain level of results or satisfaction will be achieved if Monument is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services. Monument is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.

A copy of the Monument’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request or at www.monumentwealthmanagement.com/disclosures. Please Note: Monument does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Monument’s website or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

Historical performance results for investment indices, benchmarks, and/or categories have been provided for general informational/comparison purposes only, and generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges, the deduction of an investment management fee, nor the impact of taxes, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results.  It should not be assumed that your Monument account holdings correspond directly to any comparative indices or categories. Please Also Note: (1) performance results do not reflect the impact of taxes; (2) comparative benchmarks/indices may be more or less volatile than your Monument accounts; and, (3) a description of each comparative benchmark/index is available upon request.

Please Remember: If you are a Monument client, please contact Monument, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services.  Unless, and until, you notify us, in writing, to the contrary, we shall continue to provide services as we do currently. Please Also Remember to advise us if you have not been receiving account statements (at least quarterly) from the account custodian.