How is your firm preparing the next greatest generation?
There are some very interesting conversations occurring within law firms today. Shhhhh… if you listen closely you can almost hear them. Or perhaps you’ve participated in a few. What are they? These are conversations occurring within certain groups that are trying very hard to understand a particular generation and more importantly, what motivates them? Here’s a true and common scenario: Most of our clients are managed by law firm leaders who fall into the average range of 50 - 65 years of age. They are referred to as the Baby Boomer generation, which followed in the footsteps of the Traditionalist Generation (but that’s a different blog). Born between 1946 - 1964, this generation ignited a population explosion. Following World War II, with a little jump start from Uncle Sam (the GI Bill) and the post war economy, they quickly overcrowded the colleges and universities and most importantly, the job market. They quickly became a very competitive generation. The competition was intense then, and Baby Boomers grew up understanding that if you wanted something, you had to be willing to roll up your sleeves, work hard to prove yourself and compete for success. They believed that nothing was going to be handed to them. Some of the words used to best describe this generation are: goal-oriented, independent, hardworking and they believed that younger generations should also pay their dues in the workplace. Among other things, they consider themselves dedicated, clever, resourceful, career-oriented, entrepreneurial, competent, ethical and proud of their experiences and scars. So when Baby Boomers entered the law profession, their competitive, goal-oriented values came right along with them. They didn’t receive a lot of praise growing up, so naturally, it was not expected. Now let’s leave sock-hops, drive-ins and the birth of rock ’n’ roll and jump to 2010 with tablets, selfies and Tim Tebow, when the fastest growing workforce entered the legal profession. Millennials, were born between 1982 - 2000, and became the largest living generation in the U.S. in 2016. This generation is positioned neatly between the Gen X and the Gen Y generations. Millennials are not nearly as interested in conquering the world and climbing the corporate ladder. They’re more focused on a balance between work and life. Their attitude is that they’re connected 24/7 and can do as much from their home as they can from an office. Millennials tend to place a higher value on family, friends and a constant state of feeling connected. Whereas Baby Boomers were workaholics, Millennials prefer a flexible schedule and they’re willing to sacrifice higher pay for greater autonomy and more freedom. And as law firms compete for talented young lawyers, they have to be aware of what makes them tick and what motivates them. So what is the Millennial Generation all about? First, they are plugged in 24/7 and enjoy communicating through emails, text messaging and the latest social media platform with friends and colleagues. Millennials are a product of their parents, who didn’t want to make the same mistakes as their parents, so they were extremely encouraging and nurturing. So naturally Millennials are ambitious and confident. They have high expectations and not shy about questioning authority. Most millennials grew up playing on a sports team, so they are team-oriented and desire affirmation from others. Where Baby Boomers were independent, Millennials prefer to feel connected and involved. Millennials are best described as confident, having high expectations, they enjoy challenges and are achievement-oriented. Millennials are more likely to jump into a new job if they believe it is a better position and an opportunity to use their talents. They desire attention, guidance, teamwork and enjoy frequent praise and reassurances. Millennials are always looking for something better and tend to only stay with one law firm for a few years before moving for a better opportunity, or so they believe. So the question is, how do these two, very different generations learn to work together and capitalize on one another’s talents and motivations. Are you thinking the obvious? If so, good for you, well done, you’re ahead of the curve. However, if you are still having some trouble understanding how these two amazing generations can bring out the best of one another, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and speak with one of our senior (Baby Boomer) team leaders to discuss how we’ve assisted several law firms who are now practicing solutions that works for both.