Gen X and Y Bring Assets to Business Development


By Phyllis Weiss Haserot
I recently moderated a webinar, hosted by the Ark Group, on sustainable business development. With the input of a multigenerational panel of representatives, from both the client side and the firm side, we compiled a list of assets that Generation X and Generation Y/Millennials bring to business development teams.
Here's our list. Perhaps it will give you some "ahas."
Gen X Assets:
  • Possess considerable expertise in their area.
  • Are peers of up-and-coming leaders and decision makers on the client side.
  • Are positioned to have a realistic sense of the marketplace.
  • Have become hard workers (after being labeled "entitled" or "slacker" early in their career).
  • Communicate face-to-face and by phone.
  • Are more flexible and agile in their work style than older generations.
  • Have greater acceptance of diversity; for example, the encouragement of more women in leadership and managerial positions.
Gen Y/Millennial Assets:
  • Work hard for recognition and opportunity; typically ambitious.
  • Are eager to learn.
  • Are team players.
  • Have time to work long hours and cultivate relationships before family responsibilities.
  • Are tech savvy; potential to be very productive.
  • Possess more presentation and public speaking experience than other generations at the same age.
  • Have a better view of coming marketplace needs and alternative delivery modes.
  • Are well-traveled and cross-culturally aware.

Generational Definitions

Here are some quick definitions. Generations are defined by the similar formative influences - social, cultural, political, economic - that existed as the individuals of particular birth cohorts were growing up. Given that premise, the age breakdowns for each of the four generations currently in the workplace are approximately: 

  • Traditionalists born 1925‒1942
  • Baby Boomers born 1943‒1962
  • Generation X born 1963‒1978
  • Generation Y/Millennials born 1979‒1998 (under age 30 today)
These factors represent an intersection of generational attributes and the progression that typically comes with age. I'll elaborate on a few:
  • Communication styles can be a source of tension in client relationships. Clients like the fact that Gen Xers are still comfortable using face-to-face and phone communication. This thought is shared by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. 
  • While Baby Boomers have a reputation for being workaholics and Gen Xers generally reject the work-centric lifestyle, Gen Xers have turned out to be hard workers who expect to be rewarded on merit and who expect team members to pull their weight. Nonetheless, they want to define how and where they spend their time, similar to those in Gen Y. 
  • Gen Xers have been helping to shift the gender balance of power on the client side, which is slowly showing results on the service deliverer side as well through the purchasing process. There's growing support for women leaders and recognition of the advantages in the client relationship. More women than ever are making service purchasing decisions for their organizations. With the GenY/Millennials in decision-making roles, we can hope to see more gender neutrality, leading to more productivity.
  • Networking is ingrained in many Gen Yers, whether done electronically or in person. When combined with their ambition and business development coaching, networking significantly expands their touchpoint opportunities. Their considerable travel experience and their attraction to diversity of all types provide them a global sophistication that's of great value to business success today and in the future.
  • Gen Yers are also savvy consumers who tend to be aware of a fast-changing marketplace needs. They network with young entrepreneurs and follow the trends via Facebook and other social media sites.

The above assets make a good case for involving the younger generations in marketing and business development earlier in their careers than was done in the past. Multigenerational teams will add strength to your firm now and be the springboard for sustainable client relationships for the long term.

Please send your thoughts on these observations to me at or comment on What has caused you to question or think about observed practices and behaviors differently?
© 2011 by Phyllis Weiss Haserot
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About the author:
Phyllis Weiss Haserot is the Cross-Generational Voice and the president of Practice Development Counsel, a business development and organizational effectiveness consulting and coaching firm she founded over twenty years, A special focus is on the profitability of improving workplace intergenerational relations as well as transitioning planning for baby boomer senior partners ( Phyllis is the author of The Rainmaking Machine and The Marketer's Handbook of Tips & Checklists (both Thomson Reuters/West  2011). URL:

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