Leading the Generational Workforce: Part Two – Traditionalists and Baby Boomers

In Part Two of Leading the Generational Workforce, Laura Dillingham, Senior Strategic Partner discusses the two oldest generations in the workforce, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. Enjoy this reading and also learn about the “older generations” and what is important to them in the work environment. Feel free to contact us if you have something to share regarding this week’s Power Idea at info@hpisolutions.com. Also, remember to register for Laura’s webinar on this topic on November 20th at 8 AM PST.

In Part One, we were presented with an astonishing fact…for the first time in history, today’s workforce has four generations working at the same time and they will soon have five. We also began to identify some of the challenges that this mixed multi-generational workforce will create. In Part Two, we are going to look at two generations, the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers.

The Traditionalists (also known as Veterans, Matures, the Silent Generation and the Greatest Generation) are those workers born between 1900 and 1945 and number roughly 52 million people. Their core values are a strong work ethic, dedication, privacy, brand loyalty, tradition, honor, respect and sacrifice.

Traditionalists tend to be logical, conservative, conformist, and historical. They hold themselves and others accountable. The events and trends that shaped this generation were patriotism, families, the Great Depression, World War II and the Korean War, as well as the Golden Age of Radio.

Traditionalists believe in a lifetime career with a single employer. They expect to have lifetime employment, to do a good job, to have opportunities for growth within the organization and for the employer to take care of them.

Traditionalists adhere to the rules, regulations, policies and procedures. They pride themselves for being hard workers and having respect for authority. They feel work is an obligation. They also respect seniority and feel their years of experience deserve respect. The leadership style used is direct and commanding and the organizational structure is formal.

Traditionalists prefer communicating one-on-one in person or by telephone or in writing through messages. They do not expect, require or need ongoing praise in their jobs. This generation tends to be technically challenged.

Some people who were born between 1900-1945 are Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Royalty), Louis Armstrong (Singer), Spencer Tracy (Actor), Bob Hope (Comedian), Margaret Mitchell (Author), Xavier Cugat (Musician), Helen Hayes (Actress), Ed Sullivan (TV Show Host), Lefty Grove (Baseball Player), Ernie Pyle (Journalist), Adalai E. Stevenson Jr. (Politician), Ayatollah Khomeini (Religious Leader), Charles Lindbergh (Pilot), John Dillinger (Criminal) and Walt Disney (Business Magnate, Cartoonist, Filmmaker, Philanthropist, and Voice Actor).

Baby Boomers (also known as Boomers) are those workers born between 1946 and 1964 and number roughly 73 million people. Their core values are optimism, teamwork, personal gratification, life work balance, contribution, involvement, anti-rules and regulation, competition and success, hard work, and personal growth.

Boomers tend to be driven, willing to go the extra mile for success, have a love/hate relationship with authority, are willing to fight for a cause, like to be ‘up to date’ and ‘in the know’ and accept people…as long as they meet their standards. The events and trends that shaped this generation were prosperity, television, suburbia, assassinations, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights.

Boomers are known as workaholics and thrive on personal fulfillment, quality, involvement and competition. Having an exemplary career and professional accomplishments are important to them.

Boomers prefer communicating face-to-face so they tend to hold meetings. Because of this, they think negatively when it comes to flexible schedules or working from home. They prefer feedback in the form of titles, recognition or money.

Boomers grew up during a time of changes and reforms so they question authority and are not afraid of confrontation. They are team players and as such, they want a less hierarchical structure in the workplace.

Some people who were born between 1946-1964 are Meryl Streep and Sally Fields (Actresses, Producers, Directors, Screenwriters and Singers), Bill Clinton and George W. Bush (former Presidents, Politicians, Public Speakers, Governors, Businessmen), Donald Trump (Investor, Author, Television Personality), Michael Jordan (Professional Basketball Player, Entrepreneur, Principal Owner and Chairman of the Charlotte Hornets), Elton John and Lionel Richie (Singers, Songwriters, Composers, Pianists, Record Producers, Actors), Candice Bergen (Model, Actress, Producer), Cher (Singer, Television Host, Actress, Producer, Director), Bill Gates (CEO, Chairman, Philanthropist, Investor, Computer Programmer, Inventor) and Deepak Chopra (Author, Public Speaker, Physician).

In Part Three, we will look at the next generations, Generation X and Generation Y. We will also take a brief look at the upcoming and still officially unnamed Generation Z. In Part Four, we will use this information and begin to explore what organizations (specifically management and leadership) can do to assist this mixed multi-generational workforce and their organizations.



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