Jonathan Fitzgarrald is the managing partner of Equinox Strategy Partners and a former president of the Los Angeles Chapter of LMA. On September 24, he spoke to the LMA Capital Chapter on identifying generational markers within our firms and offered some practice pointers for dealing with multiple generations in the work place.
The current working atmosphere is unique because we have four generations all working together. The Silent Generation (1920- 1945), the Baby Boomers (1945-1965), Gen-X (1965-1985) and Gen-Y or Millennials (1985-2000). The Silent was strongly influenced by the Great Depression and Second World War. Because of this, they are motivated by control and caution. Baby Boomers are “eat what you kill” professionals. They were conditioned by the Silent Generation to put their heads down and work hard, until they got a seat at the table.
Markers of Gen-X professionals are that they are entrepreneurial and self-reliant. They feel as though their job is to alleviate the work from the partner. They are sometimes less concerned with the partner track and more concerned with flexibility. Whereas Boomers sometimes equate being in the office with working, Gen-Xers feel like they can work from anywhere and still be productive. Millennials share many of the characteristics of Gen-Xers, but also have a strong desire to collaborate and interact with others.
Because of so many differing generational markers, there is sometimes conflict. Gen-Xers might feel slighted that Baby Boomers aren’t retiring, thus leaving fewer opportunities to hand down business or client relationships. Conversely, Boomers might feel slighted that they are not consulted about the work or that the Gen-Xer is communicating with the client without keeping them in the loop. Both groups might think that the Millennials feel entitled because they want a seat at the table before their time.
So What Now?
If we plan on doing well in the future, our pitches should be not only tailored for clients’ industries, but also for the generation of the client. Fitzgarrald says, “It’s our role as marketers to say: Who are you pitching? Who’s going to be in the room? How old are they?” From there we are able to customize a strategy for pitching to whoever is on the other side of the table.
Since the Silent Generation and Boomers see themselves as more executive, empower them by offering them opportunities to mentor and impart their wisdom on younger generations. Gen-Xers are looking for value and recognition today. If your firm cannot recognize them monetarily, consider offering them leadership positions within the firm, such as making them editor-in-chief of the firm’s blog. This also shifts responsibility for keeping fresh blog content off of marketing. Offer Millennials opportunities to cross market.
Encourage succession planning within the firm and with clients. “Zippering” is a term to ensure cross-generational marketing. Marketers should encourage senior attorneys to bring people from younger generations to all client interactions and suggest that the client do the same. When both senior people retire, the relationship stays in place, like a zipper.
Final Practice Pointers
- Generational markers are more of a mentality than an age. There can be 25-year-old associates with Boomer mentalities and vice versa.
- Consider the demographic in the firm at all turns. Think ahead to attorneys who are coming of age in their partnership agreements. Make it an on going conversation for years prior to them aging out so that they can properly transition clients.
- When tailoring pitches, make sure that you to tap into all four of the major generational demographics.
- From a business development perspective, diversity now includes age. Remember to ask, “Do we have ourselves are covered from a generational point of view?” You don't want to end up with a Silent Generation attorney pitching to a Millenial client and coming back without the business.
By Kamaria Salau, Marketing Manager, Jackson Campbell, P.C., for the September/October 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.