When working with your legal colleagues, it is worth keeping in mind that we all have traits and characteristics that are a function of how and when we were socialized into the profession.

In "The Multigenerational Workforce, Managing and Motivating Multiple Generations in the Legal Workplace", Sally Kane posits the following about the various generations:

1. Baby Boomers (aged 46-64) hold positions of power and authority and comprise the majority of law firm partners and senior level executives. They are loyal and work-centric. High levels of responsibility, perks, praise and challenge motivate this generation.

2. Generation X’ers (aged 32-45) hold junior partner and senior associate positions in law firms and middle-management positions in corporate legal departments. They are ambitious and hardworking but value work/life balance. Diversity, challenge, responsibility and creative input motivate this generation.

3. Generation Y’ers (aged 21-31) hold entry level associate positions in law firms and corporate legal departments. They are creative, optimistic, achievement-oriented and tech-savvy multi-taskers who seek challenge and personal growth. Immediate feedback, praise and frequent communication motivate this generation.

According to an article by Robert Half Legal, the biggest benefits to a multi-generational workplace are that it:

• Brings together people of varying experience levels;
• Allows for greater diversity of project teams; and
• Allows for mentoring opportunities.

The biggest challenges are that the different generations have:

• Different work ethics and approaches to work life balance;
• Conflicting communication styles; and
• Different points of view, which make it harder to reach consensus.

Keeping these generational differences in mind could help you to understand and to work more effectively with a colleague or even a client.   

Sharon Davis – Click here for more information on Sharon Davis.