Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

E-Tips: Multi-Generational Solutions Archives

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Trendwatching 2007 - from “The Rainmaking Machine”

Since the new edition of my book, THE RAINMAKING MACHINE (West Legalworks) has just come out, I am offering a taste using an excerpt from the “Trendwatching” chapter as this month's e-tip.


The presence in firms today of three or four generations with obviously differing attitudes and objectives is forcing managers to challenge their long-held assumptions about a common viewpoint on professionals' motivations, what constitutes personal success, rewards and the most effective approaches to getting work done. A large part of my work and my firm's work has shifted to multi-generational issues in the workplace
because they will be critical to the constitution and productivity of firms as never before.

More training and coaching than has been done previously is needed to assure that clients of different generations are being served satisfactorily. Better orientation, more feedback and both formal professional development and informal guidance are needed to retain and maximize the productivity of younger generations. Their attitudes will create change in the traditional way of doing things in many firms, though not without resistance.

Many young professionals have appeared to need more attention and guidance and to be concerned with stability and security than those coming before them. However, a recent study sponsored by Intuit on the changing face of small business has concluded that Generation Y (those born from approximately 1979 to 1995) are the most entrepreneurial generation ever, based on their digital prowess and the start-up businesses produced in high school and college.. Some researchers call them risk-takers; others see the opposite. Probably there is some truth in both of those observations. Firms need to identify the entrepreneurial ones and support, rather than put a damper on, their strengths so firms can retain their talent and capitalize on innovation in their practices. Otherwise they will take their business developing skills and talent elsewhere - a loss to the profession.

Generation Y is also more socially and environmentally minded than Generation X (born approximately 1962-1978). Firms should take advantage of their pro bono interests and entrepreneurial instincts to launch and advise business and not-for-profit entities that will help build their reputations and goodwill.

Firms can also encourage Generation Y employees to channel some of the creativity exhibited on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook for business-appropriate uses approved by the firm. While providing individual expression and recognition which may entice young associates and staff to stay longer, firms can benefit from a way to reach younger generations outside the firm.

Two other significant trends relate to the older end of the generational spectrum. Firms will need to be more flexible to retain some of the leading edge Baby Boomers whose skills and experience, judgment, contacts and reputations are assets that cannot be nearly replaced by younger partners (a smaller group of Generation X). Crucial issues go way beyond whether to have mandatory retirement age requirements or not and influence client retention, referrals, recruitment, and the degree of teamwork vs. territorial culture and free agency a firm will enjoy going forward.

The other interesting generational trend is the shift of top management responsibilities from partners in their 60s to those in their 40s, increasingly in their early 40s (Generation X rather than Baby Boomers). They are likely to have a different and more aggressive approach to growth, management, business development and valued attributes from their older predecessors, and that has an impact on marketing, firm culture, acquisitions and retention.


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2007. All rights reserved