Leading Four Generations at Work

Generations at work picture

Each generation has its own value system, style and attitude about management and work. Below is a summary of the main characteristics of our four generations in the workplace based on studies by the American Management Association and other organizations.


Traditionalists (Silents) Prior to 1946:  They are loyal, dedicated and risk-adverse, committed to teamwork and collaboration and respect the chain of command.  They are effective communicators respect the Chain of command. They have been strongly influenced by the effects of the Great Depression, World War II and the post-war period of prosperity, They are a fine example of saving for their future.

Baby Boomers 1946-1964: The Boomers made work a higher priority than personal life. They distrust authority and large organizations and are concerned with personal gratification and company perks. They are optimistic and open to change as well as being part of the “Me” Generation. Their values were shaped by the civil rights movement, Viet Nam and inflation.  Because of the changing economy and volatile market, many have found themselves in a poor position to retire and will work longer than traditional retirement age.

Generation X (1965-1979): Gen Xers question authority and are advocates of work/leisure balance. They are a smaller generation and more independent than earlier generations. They are willing to take on new challenges and adapt to changes in the workplace or job market. They were the first generation of “latchkey” kids and are skeptical after seeing their parents get divorced, lose jobs after many years, and witnessing the fall of political and corporate leaders. They do not count on “life-long” employment, just in developing skill sets needed to succeed in the job market.

Generation Y or the Millennials (1980 -2000): This is a global-centric generation coming of age in the internet era along with the onset of global terrorism.  They are adept at navigating change and comfortable with diversity and inclusion. They are highly technical and the most educated generation. They are the most closely programmed generation both at home and at school. They share many values with the Traditionalists such as patriotism, teamwork and family.

Each generation has its strengths and mixed generational teams have been found to work the best in the workplace.