Traditionalists make up the smallest percentage involved in the current workforce, but they are the organizational historians as they know and remember the organization’s past and founding goals. Traditionalists are typically born between 1927 and 1945 and grew up during the Great Depression, which was from 1933 to 1938. After that, the second World War started and the U.S.A got involved after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
These years had a significant effect on this generation. Traditionalists are known to work collaboratively, know how to do more with less, and are task-oriented. They typically have a strong sense of what is right and wrong, which was fueled by the historical events in their childhood and early adulthood. They have a strong sense of patriotism and respect for authority figures.
This generation is also one of the first major innovators; they created space travel, vaccination programs, and the foundation for modern-day technological innovations. They were the driving force of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s and were also the ones that started moving to suburbs. Currently, the are serving on many Board of Directors, as Presidents of organizations or as executive leaders. They have generally moved up in the hierarchy of organizations that they have spent years working for. They are loyal employees who require little feedback from their managers.
Because this is the era of pre-feminism women, the majority of women raised children and only had a job before marriage as teachers, nurses, or secretaries. This generation is self-disciplined, cautious, and self-sacrificing.
-Lotte Mulder earned her Master’s of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013, where she focused on Leadership and Group Development. She’s currently working toward a PhD in Organizational Leadership. At ASCP, Lotte designs and facilitates the ASCP Leadership Institute, an online leadership certificate program. She has also built ASCP’s first patient ambassador program, called Patient Champions, which leverages patient stories as they relate to the value of the lab.
This generation was born before 1945 and is the oldest generation in the American culture. However, not all of those born before 1945 are alike. They either fought in WWII or were children through those war years. The Traditionalist generation are really the first strong innovators and if they are still working they act as the historians of the organization because they have been there for a long time. They often serve on Board of Directors and are Presidents because of their organizational knowledge and expertise. They are typically very disciplined, consistent in their behavior and opinions, and are known for their loyalty.
The majority of Traditionalists are retirees and are the largest lobbyist group, which is the AARP. If your parents or grandparents were of the Traditionalist Generation, you might have experienced a “waste not, want not” attitude with strong family values, conformity, and team players.
The Traditionalists are often referred to as the “Silent Generation.” This term came from the fact that during this era, the children were often expected to be seen and not heard.
As I pondered this generational topic, I found myself searching for an example of an “Active Working Traditionalist” that I could talk about because they might not have yet retired! To my surprise I found myself thinking about my Uncle Tom. This man has taken care of me and his family of five children with my Aunt Pat my whole life. He is a strong family man and then realized he is still working! Uncle Tom (he prefers to remain nameless) turned 83 year’s old this past April 16th. He is still the principle owner of his own CPA firm and worked those long and hard CPA hours during this 2018 tax season. As I mentioned early in this blog, all Traditionalists are not alike, and Uncle Tom never expected children to be “silent.” He valued their opinions, and my Aunt Pat was both a stay home mom and a partner in their CPA firm.
Uncle Tom values the old-time morals of family first, safety, conservatism, patience and financial security. I encourage you to look around for your Traditionalist at home, or maybe even in the workplace. Let’s appreciate our Traditionalists while we still have the opportunity to learn from them!
-Catherine Stakenas, MA, is the Senior Director of Organizational Leadership and Development and Performance Management at ASCP. She is certified in the use and interpretation of 28 self-assessment instruments and has designed and taught masters and doctoral level students.