The workforce is changing, that is a fact. Debt-free college, twenty-some-year tenures, gold watches, solid retirement plans, even job stability…Largely, these things are relics of the past.
As humans, we all have different dreams and needs. Generationally, though, we share similar characteristics. Rightfully so. Every generation experiences a different culture, economic reality, social forces and so on. Inevitably, these different experiences can cause conflict when we’re all working together.
Dr. Sidjae Price, CEO at Priceless Planning and Founder of Speak Loud Inc., is in the business of organizational conflict. She helps organizations sort out issues, to build a better workforce and future. As Dr. Price points out, every generation has a stereotype. But we all share a desire to be human, to be treated as we would treat others. Dr. Price joins us to talk about generational pressures, organizational conflict and how we can make our businesses better.
Join Dr. Price at the Digital PM Summit for her interactive session, “Floppy Disks & Cloud Storage: How Generation X & Millennials Can Collaboratively Manage Projects.”
VOGSY helps make everything better when you’re running a digital services shop. Check out VOGSY as a way to look across your whole shop and figure out what’s working and what’s not.
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Carl Smith: Hey everybody and welcome back to The Bureau Briefing. It's Carl. You knew that. With me today I have Dr Sidjae Price. She is the CEO of Priceless Planning, the founder of Speak Loud, which is a youth-based nonprofit, and also a bestselling author. So you know without getting too, you know, she's kind of a badass. I just want to say, Dr Sidjae Price, kind of a badass. Welcome to the Bureau Studios. We're glad to have you here today.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Hello there. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for having me.
Carl Smith: You are so welcome. And as I was getting ready for this episode and I was researching you a little bit, I kept laughing because it kept feeling like, "I am going to learn so much, but also I am going to be one of the things that probably annoys you," because you talk about being passionate about organizational conflict and I think that may have been my nickname in my first company. I'm not sure. I may have said, "Oh God, here comes OC." But talk about that for a minute. What do you mean when you talk about organizational conflict?
Dr. Sidjae Price: So organizational conflict, in a very simplistic term, well, way of describing it, it's ideally any conflict, so any disagreement, dispute, that occurs within an organization. So meaning a company, a business, whether it's for profit, nonprofit, so think of any type of issue that can arise from it. That's what organizational conflict is.
Carl Smith: Okay. And so when you help your clients with your company, Priceless Planning, is that what you do? Do you help streamline their process by helping smooth over some of the issues?
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yes, that is exactly what I do. So while I know many in the field will disagree with it, I look at it as I am taking a preventative measure to organizational conflicts some of the times. And then sometimes I'm actually going in there and resolving it. So a lot of the times it could be like, let's say team members are having issues in the company because they don't know what to do. And it may be a simply solving as creating an SOP, a standard operating procedure, or implementing new policies, or developing new team member routines. So different things, so different conflicts and then there's different ways to resolve it within an organization.
Carl Smith: Now being that organizations are made up of humans, this seems to be the fatal flaw.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yeah.
Carl Smith: So as you get in there, what are some of the common human issues that you see people butting up against as they're supposedly trying to work together?
Dr. Sidjae Price: When it comes on to small companies, like new companies, or I would say about one to five years, it's mostly issues that arise from operations and issues that arise from operation, so that's where there may be a lack of operations, or poor leadership or something like that. Those are common, they're very common with the type of, well when it's that size. And then with larger companies it's mostly issues with team members. So maybe a team member doesn't feel valued in there. So how can we create some sort of a membership program. Or definitely that generation clash of course, where probably a supervisor is from a different generation and they have a younger generation individual and we know there's differences in personalities and stuff like that. So how can we find things to implement in the company to allow the team members to work together efficiently?
Dr. Sidjae Price: And some of the things that can really happen, it could be very simple, and it can be complicated. It can be simple as restructuring, changing role, well, for me that's simple. Restructuring [crosstalk 00:04:32] and all that stuff, but then again it goes to the size of the company, because if they're a really big company, restructuring is gonna take a lot. But yes, so that's the nerdiness, that's the type of issues that I see commonly.
Carl Smith: Okay. So when they're younger in their journey, the companies are younger, they don't have any type of established operations, they're figuring it out as they go, and so that causes conflict. Makes perfect sense.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yep, because-
Carl Smith: And then as they get more established, you have individuals who may feel out of sync or who may truly be out of sync with wherever the core values and the mission and vision of the organization is. So when you help them, what is your process when you go in? Let's say it's a more established organization, and I've shared this before on the show, we've been at events where the question gets asked of 50 people, "How many of you have fired somebody in the last year because of a skills issue?" And no hands go up. And then you ask the question, "How many of you fired somebody over the last year because of a soft skills issue?" And almost every hand goes up. So how do you help that individual or that organization when you go into the more established company and you see that there's this struggle?
Dr. Sidjae Price: The first thing that I like to do is definitely hear whoever's in charge. So the CEO, supervisor, whatever their role is, I like to hear everything that's happening from their perspective and then also hear from the team members' perspectives. So the first thing I guess you can call that an assessment. So assessing the situation, understanding what's happening, taking away my notes and looking at it from different point of views privately. And then going back with a solution.
Dr. Sidjae Price: And then it could also be, you cannot, well, what I also have to look at is the issue of trust. Going into a company, you don't want to just put yourself in and they almost feel as if like you're coming to take over. And especially if it's a younger generation that you're working with, you definitely don't want to make it seem as if you're coming to take over. My fellow Millennials. So yeah. So you really have to be strategic in the process and assessing, evaluating, implementing, and then repeating that process over and as much as needed until you get to the proper solution. But I mean, for me, I do believe that every conflict that occurs within an organization is definitely solvable, it's just not inevitable. Because we're working with humans, as you just stated. And we're conflicting human beings.
Carl Smith: We are, and we come up in such different ways. And so I love the way that you address it from a generational perspective. I do think that, especially my generation, the Gen X or MTV generation sounds cooler, but we'll go with Gen X. You know, I think we cop out and we blame things on Millennials, like the participation generation, all these things that are kind of horrible actually. And so it's like some of the hardest working people I've known were born in those years. Some of the smartest people, some of the most determined and passionate people. I mean, for God's sakes, you're a doctor, right? It's not like you sat there, they weren't handing out doctor degrees.
Dr. Sidjae Price: No. They definitely weren't. I worked for it.
Carl Smith: So I'm just curious, do you think, maybe it's slowly melting, but do you think the Gen Xers are warming up to Millennials? I don't think we have a choice.
Dr. Sidjae Price: That's a good point. There are limited choices, definitely. And you know, I think it is a lack of clarity when it comes to society that realistically, that every generation has had their stereotypes. You know, if you look at let's say Gen Xers or even the Silent Generation, which was like the generations where we had a lot of the wars and stuff like that and women's rights and stuff like that, they were known as the Silent Generation. So it was almost like every generation has a stereotype, well different stereotypes that are placed on them, and we as intellectual human beings have to be very cognizant and remind ourselves that of course it's not right to make stereotypical assumptions. So we definitely have to remember that. But I do think that some Gen Xers are warming up to us Millennials, some are not. Some are finding us very valuable, especially individuals who are in marketing and stuff like that are finding us very valuable. But I do believe that everyone serves their unique role in society. And we all have strengths and weaknesses where the other doesn't.
Carl Smith: I totally agree. And I'll [crosstalk 00:09:45] say, one of the things, and maybe, and I think we all have a different idea of what the stereotype is. And as a human, I think for my stereotype, I'm trying to protect myself from my own weaknesses by projecting them off on another group, right? Another generation. But one of the things that I hear all the time is that, especially in the digital space where we live, that the Millennials are jumping from job to job so fast. But you know what? So are the Gen Xers. It's like everybody's doing it. And yet they seem to get, the Millennials seem to get labeled with this, [crosstalk 00:10:27] "They're not going to stay for more than two years."
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yeah. You know, and that's the thing, because I don't think it's necessary. It's true in some part, and it's true in not. Now, when I did some research on this, if individuals look on each generation, each generation is faced with a different culture or a different economic status or something major has happened in every generation. Right? And the Millennials in particular, we came up in an era where we're told to go to school, get the degree, all that stuff. So most of us, myself included, have tons of student loan debt that we have to pay off. So it's literally, it almost feels like a Millennial is chasing the money, it's chasing the money because you want to get out of debt, you want to still achieve your dream, you know? And so that is one of the things.
Dr. Sidjae Price: And you know, even I think most Millennials also went through the first recession and then there are talks of another recession as well. So I think, yes, some may jump from job to job, but it comes with how much they're valued as an employee and I think companies who are trying to retain Millennials have to be very strategic in that. And then any employee, it's normal human nature that you want to feel appreciated, you want to feel needed within a company, any relationship, any human interaction that involves two people, you want to feel appreciated so that raise of pay or the the bonus or whatever it is, you want to receive those items. You want to feel as if you are contributing to the core values, the mission, the vision, the goal, you know, what are you doing? So I just think companies have to strive harder for not just Millennials, but any generation that's coming after us or before us, to retain it.
Carl Smith: Again, you know what Dr Price, I'm just going to say I agree. I'm good. No, but what you're saying right now, especially when it comes to just this idea of working together and appreciating each other, I mean you can go back to Daniel Pink's book Drive, right? If you look at, you have to be intrinsically feel that you're being treated fairly. You have to extrinsically feel that you're being treated fairly. And I would say as a business owner, now granted, I have a small team now. It is so hard on the extrinsic part because everybody is putting on the happiest face possible on social. And even though we're doing it too, we don't realize that my friend who just went to Facebook, who's now posting a photo next to a Ferrari, that's probably not hers, but ... And so everybody's intrinsic, extrinsic stuff is kind of out of whack. Because it's social media. But to your point of the generations that come next, I've got two teenage daughters. Now I call them digital natives. I don't know what the official term for their generation will be, but they don't play.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yeah, they don't. They are. Yeah. No, I think they're worse. Like they're not, they're, well I don't even mean to you the term "worst," but they're very, they are going to be like, "stand up for your rights" type situation. If they don't like something, you will know they don't like it. So to me it's like many thought that Millennials were like outspoken, but no. No. The Gen Zs I believe they are, they are outspoken and they will stand up and they will do petitions, they will be leading the next era of protests. But yeah, they don't play any games.
Carl Smith: [crosstalk 00:14:43] Right. And just in my household. And actually they're great humans. They're great humans and they are the people that I think I wish I had been. You know, when I look back. Now, it's interesting because as we look at Millennials and we look at this moving from job to job or demanding certain things, well they don't have retirement packages. I don't have one either as a Gen Xer, I don't have one. The Baby Boomers had them. I think they were like the tail end of it. So we have to kind of earn it now. Now what's interesting to me is when I look at the Gen Zs, my youngest daughter just turned 16. She makes about 35 bucks an hour doing makeup.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:29] I've yet to get to a job making that much an hour.
Carl Smith: Yeah, exactly. And we've had those conversations around "does college matter?" Well, you know, it's like if it matters to you as an individual, yes it matters. If you want to start off like loaded down with debt, no. That's not good. And also, do you want to have aging parents who covered that for you and then you've got to take care of them? So it's like either way it becomes this weird thing, but with the next generation coming into the workforce, I will tell you this. I know without a doubt, both of my kids, if they walk in to an office, if an office is a thing, and they walk into it and they see everybody looks the same? They're going to walk back out. It's just not gonna happen.
Carl Smith: I was trying to explain that to somebody. I was like, "diversity, equity, inclusion, this isn't an option. It's a requirement." It's a requirement because the next workforce that's coming in, they're not going to play. I mean it's going to be something they expect and not just because, I mean we've had economic diversity, we've had all these issues that are slowly seeming, not to get resolved but at least get addressed.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yes, they are.
Carl Smith: And they're aware of them.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yes they are. And that's what it comes down to. It is a new, it's a changing workforce that is developing right now. And that within itself it's going to be conflicting. You know, and I've heard of companies that's paying thousands of dollars to specialists that can help them figure out how to manage new generations coming in and all these things because they know. They are aware that with every generation that's coming in as new needs, new demands that's coming in. And if they want to make sure that those employees are going to be meeting their company goals, which of course affect their money and the bottom line, then they have to make sure that they are happy and that there is no conflict. So whether that is allowing individuals to work from home or having a daycare facility within the job, or something of that sort, or allowing that mom to leave early to go to ballet practice without feeling like they're going to lose the job.
Dr. Sidjae Price: So all of these needs and values of different individuals have to be taking it into consideration. Because after a while, companies are gonna start competing for, to retain their top talent. And I always say that's what happened with the era of Facebook and Google when they just came, was it? Yeah. Facebook and Google. It was something happening and allegedly the reports said that Zuckerberg took all the employees, yeah, and was like, don't be [Google-able 00:18:29]. But he knew how to retain them. He knew how to retain them. And so he took them and made them focus on his mission, vision and values. And he had the top talent, so it was like, "Yes, this new generation, especially when it comes to tech and STEM stuff, they are smart and you need them." You have to retain that. You have to. Yeah.
Carl Smith: Well you do. And so if you go back to the Boomers, like the people that I worked for, when I first came out of college, it was a big deal to get to casual Friday. It was a big deal to not have to wear a suit. And I remember, there had to be some rules because there was one individual who was a very, very nice human, but he also liked to wear these high-cut dolphin shorts. And we were like, "Nobody needs that." So you have, like that was the big issue at work was casual Fridays have gone a little overboard. And then you look at my generation of ownership, or leadership, or poor leadership, and we got to this idea of "open vacation," right?
Carl Smith: And we got to this because we thought we were, especially in the digital space, we're competing with Google and Amazon and everybody else. And the 20% rule where, or 20% where we're gonna give everybody a Friday to work on personal projects. You know, I will say, this killed, I thought about this. My company ran for 14 years and if we had been able to do more with that 20% we would have avoided a lot of problems. Even Google canceled that, right? But regardless, but that was kind of it. So I can't even wait to see what happens when the Millennials are running their companies and what they have to figure out for the the Gen Z people.
Dr. Sidjae Price: I know, right? Yes. So trust me, I understand, and it's so funny because even now I'll have my niece or my nephew help me on something, and you want to hear how they negotiate their pay. They're very, I'm like, "why am I negotiating with a 15-year-old? Look, do the job and take 20 bucks." They're like, "20 bucks?" And they are so serious and they sit there, they count the money, so they're very serious. But yes, so much is changing and it's definitely going to be interesting. But with each new generation, companies definitely have to learn to adjust and do accordingly, because like they say, somebody can just leave and start their own company and they may just hit it big. I've actually heard stories of individuals leaving a company because they don't feel appreciated, and then the company turning around and offering them a contract.
Carl Smith: Wow. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That makes good sense.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yeah, so definitely, especially if you are a major, major company and you know that the generation workforce is changing, you have to innovate and have employees want to show up to work, because it's individuals go into work that are literally having anxiety attack and panic attacks. And it's just, I always say just be human. Like think how would you want someone to treat you and nine out of 10 times that's how your employee wants to be treated.
Carl Smith: It's the golden rule.
Dr. Sidjae Price: Yup.
Carl Smith: Right. It's been there from the beginning of time [crosstalk 00:22:07] that I know. Well Dr Price, thank you so much for being on the show. I am excited to get to meet you in person. You're going to be at the Digital PM Summit, which is October 20th through 22nd in Orlando, sunny Orlando, Florida. And in October it's not blisteringly hot, it's actually amazing.
Dr. Sidjae Price: It's nice. It's very nice.
Carl Smith: And you're going to educate us more on how Gen X and Millennials can work together on managing projects. So I just can't wait. I'm excited for your talk.
Dr. Sidjae Price: I am excited myself. I'm definitely looking forward to it and sharing all of my lovely research and information with you all. I'm very excited and thank you all for having me.
Carl Smith: You are so welcome, and for everybody listening, thank you so much, and we'll be back next week. Have a good one
Dr. Sidjae Price: Bye y'all.