Many traditionalists are staying in the job market for longer than ever before. They may be 75 years old and are working with people 1/3 their age. Whether you are a traditionalist or you work with one, many of today’s biggest companies are based on the values of the “Traditionalist” generation. Traditionalists (born on or before 1942) are the keepers of the workplace Holy Grail of history and a pain to the more action-oriented boomers and tech-savvy Xers. Today less than 5 percent are active in the workplace, yet they are still solid, no-nonsense performers who tend to exhibit the following characteristics:
- True American values
- Civic pride
- Loyalty and dependability
- Respect for authority
- Disciplined (value obedience over individualism)
- Believe in the concept of law and order
- Live by the adage, “An honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”
- Oriented to the past (may say things like, “In my day …”)
Does Your Company Have a Traditionalist Culture? Traditionalists grew up in an era where manufacturing offered consistency in processes as well as guaranteed income. Many of this generation abandoned farms that had dried up during the great Dust Bowl of the 1930s and went to work in the factories in the cities. When the country called for service during World War II, they served with pride and without hesitation. This generation lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, learning self-discipline to survive. They did not live beyond their means and learned to work hard to take care of their families.
In general, the Traditionalist believes in doing what is right. Decisions and actions should be logical and justifiable. They are disciplined and dislike disorganization. They often resist change and need all of the information to make a decision or to be convinced to change. Does this sound like your company? They do not take their job or employment for granted, and they have a strong sense of responsibility to family and the job.
The Traditionalist-based organization tends to foster a directive, command-and-control leadership style. Traditionalist-based companies will have more difficulty fostering high performance from an employee in a younger generation who can’t relate to those fundamentally “Traditionalist” values.
Advice for Traditionalist Leaders As executives, Traditionalists expect that they will be followed without question, as they did when they were employees. They did not question the boss, and they expect their decisions will be received and honored without question in the same way. They often exhibit traits of the “Type A” manager with a “My way or the highway” personality and, as you can imagine, this management style does not sit well with the younger employees, especially generations X and Y.
You can assist the Traditionalist leader by:
- Being patient but firm
- Clearly and coherently explaining the rules or parameters of the company culture
- Supporting them in developing their people skills
- Encouraging and assisting them with change
- Being efficient in providing information in a timely manner
- Respecting and valuing their life and work experience
- Holding all employees accountable for performance and behavior
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.
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