Seek To Understand Part I: The Traditionalist Generation

Understanding the differences between our generations is a core building block to a successful multigenerational workplace. Each generation has unique life and socioeconomic experiences that have molded their values, beliefs, preferences, and expectations and impacted who they are as a group.

Traditionalists: Born before 1946

Generally recognized as the children of the Great Depression, Traditionalists have great respect for authority, they strictly abide by the rules, and they want to be respected for their historical knowledge of their chosen industry. They are civic-duty minded and committed to hard work; over 50% of the men in this generation served in the military. This generation was comprise of about 50 million members, fewer in number than their predecessor and the aptly named successive generation of Baby Boomers.

Common Characteristics


Respect Authority



Take Direction



Respect Seniority

Team Player

The Traditionalist generation has also been labeled the “Silent Generation”. This generation was obedient; they grew up in with the ideology that children should be seen but not heard. They did not question authority, as it was seen as a sign of disrespect. However, this label is seen as a misnomer by many, as the Traditionalist generation brought us leaders in civil and women’s rights, and many artists and writers who have changed the face of the arts.  Many great inventions and innovation came about, as this generation took advantage of more higher education available to them than the prior generation.

Notable Traditionalist Generation Members

Marilyn Monroe

Martin Luther King Jr.

Elvis Presley

John Lennon

Gloria Steinem

Clint Eastwood

Robert F Kennedy

Quincy Jones

In the workplace Traditionalists often built a lifetime career with one employer. They wanted to make their mark, build a lasting contribution, feel like what they accomplished had a lasting impact. As technology became prevalent over the years, it was this generation who took it the hardest – being less adept at technology, it was difficult for them to change their work habits. That being said, teamwork was a strong point for the Traditionalist, and they did not promote conflict in the workplace. Over 90% of Traditionalists are retired today.