The Common Characteristics of the Silent Generation

Find out How Traditionalists Can Benefit Your Law Firm

an older businessman sitting at a desk
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Traditionalists, also known as the "Silent Generation" because children of this era were expected to be seen and not heard, are those born before 1946. Some 55 million strong as of the 2010s, they're 70 or older and most have retired from the workforce. Traditionalists share a few common characteristics -- and those who remain in the workforce might be expected to work fewer hours. 

Characteristics of Silent Generation Professionals

They're generally partners, managers and senior support staff in the legal workplace, although some may sign on as administrative staff to keep busy after retirement, particularly in part-time roles. Silent generation attorneys may serve "of counsel" to law firms. They've technically retired but they maintain a close relationship with the firm and may be called upon on a case-by-case basis for their expertise. 

The Silent Generation Is Hardworking 

The silent generation brought the strong work ethics of their parents into the factories of industrialized society. They grew up during lean times, including the Great Depression and World War II. They consider work a privilege and it shows -- they're considered the wealthiest generation.

Traditionalists believe you earn your own way through hard work -- long, grueling hours in their prime enabled them to get ahead in their legal careers, and they think others should do the same. This generation believes that promotions and advancement should be the result of tenure and proven productivity that's stood the test of time. They distrust flash-in-the-pan success. 

Traditionalists Are Loyal Employees 

Traditionalists are civic-minded and loyal to their country and their employers. In fact, they register as the largest voting population in the U.S. Unlike the Generation Y and Generation X workers, many traditionalists have stayed with the same employer throughout their entire working lives. They're less likely to change jobs to advance their careers than younger generations, but they expect the same loyalty in return.

They Respect Authority 

Raised in a paternalistic environment, the silent generation was taught to respect authority. Conformity and conservatism are prized. They tend to be good team players, generally don’t ruffle feathers or initiate conflict in the workplace, and like to feel needed. 

The Silent Generation Can Be Tech-Challenged

Don't expect your Silent Generation employee to be a whiz at operating his new smartphone. Of all four generations active in today's workplaces, traditionalists are the slowest to change their work habits and adapt to new, more efficient ways of doing things, particularly those involving electronics. They're less technologically adept than younger generations.

Traditionalists may struggle to learn new technology as it evolves and changes the practice of law, and they may try your younger staff's patience with the need for ongoing instruction in this area. The flip side is that they often have great one-on-one interpersonal skills because they're more accustomed to dealing with people eye-to-eye. They've honed their abilities to use this to their advantages. 

They're ... Well, Traditional

Traditionalists value old-time morals, safety, security, and consistency. They have more respect for brick-and-mortar educational institutions and traditional lecture formats than online, web-based education and training. This generation favors conventional business models in the legal workplace and a top-down chain of command. Work ethic and reliability are important to them.