Surviving the Great Depression, and growing up during a time of war and the FDR administration, Traditionalists endured many financial hardships. Fortunately, times of prosperity followed. People in this group are some of the first true innovators. They’ve created vaccines, developed the space program, shaped the United States as an economic and military power, and were the first to pursue equality through the Civil Rights Movement.
Also known as the Silent Generation, they were born between 1925 – 1942.
This group includes retirees (about 95%), those still actively employed, and some who are choosing to re-enter the workforce. Those remaining in the workforce are extremely loyal, hardworking, disciplined, and self-sacrificing.
Unlike Gen Xers and Millennials, they choose to live to work rather than work to live. Even with a strong sense of responsibility to family, work-life balance isn’t as much of a concern as they take their jobs very seriously and are natural leaders. In return for their dedication, they demand their employers appreciate and take care of them and show respect. Traditionalists will not change jobs frequently, if at all, as they believe in life-long careers.
Preferred Work Environment
While Traditionalists are winding down full-time work life, they’re still solid performers who tend to prefer a work environment that’s /includes:
- A clear chain of command
- Company with a good reputation and ethics
- Top-down management
Understanding how Traditionalists think and communicate will help coworkers avoid conflicts and supervisors manage them more effectively. Because education was not easily available, as it was for other generations, Traditionalists may have less formal education but they make up for it in their unequaled experience and tenure. Members of this group are highly motivated by attaining and maintaining respect. Acknowledge them for their depth of knowledge and a job well done.
As natural Type-A personalities, they’re leaders and expect to be followed. An atmosphere that fosters learning and has a mentoring program will allow older employees to share their ideas and wisdom, while giving younger employees an opportunity to teach them about technology.
Have patience, but be firm and clear with Traditionalists. They respect authority, but aren’t fond of pressure. When they need coaching, do so casually, assist them with change, provide information in a timely manner, and always respect their work experience, lives, and careers.
About Ann Kerian
Ann spent almost 20 years motivating people through a camera lens as an award-winning television anchor/reporter. She is now an Executive Coach & Media Consultant specializing in Effective Communication, Personal and Professional Development and Marketing/Public Relations. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and International Coach Federation.
Ann is currently the Consultant for Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation in Mauston, WI. She lives with her husband, three sons and two dachshunds in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.
- Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce
- How to Manage Your Small Business’ Traditionalist Workforce
- West Midland Family Center, Generational Differences Presentation by Renee Allen