A long time ago, 2 of my employees and I witnessed something that, at the time, seemed rather odd to all of us. We were making a presentation in a client’s office and among the attorneys in attendance was an older attorney of some renown who, upon being told he had done something beneficial in the case we were all working on, stopped what he was doing and immediately began to pat himself on the back. Not only did he pat himself on the left side of his upper back/shoulder with his outstretched right hand, but he continued his self congratulation by patting the right side of his upper back/shoulder with his left hand. His name was Stanley and he informed all of us who were staring at him that he learned if he didn’t pat himself on the back for a job well done, he might never get a pat on the back from anyone. After I recovered from the shock of seeing an elderly man vigorously patting himself on the back, I decided good old Stanley might have a valid point. In fact, we at Magnus have adopted this action as an organizational approach for raising morale. When someone does something excellent, innovative, or otherwise impressive, we tell him/her to “give yourself a Stanley,” and he/she is encouraged to vigorously pat his/her back with everyone watching. I have had many opportunities to “give myself a Stanley,” including sometimes when I am alone. It may seem silly, but I have found that all of us, including me, need a little encouragement from time to time. So, the next time you do something you are proud of, give yourself a Stanley!
Our practice of “giving Stanleys” has been an interesting experience. As Melissa points out, telling an employee to give himself/herself a Stanley seems strange at first. But, the old pat on the back seems strange, and perhaps offensive, to some younger employees as well, especially those who do not like being touched. By using the “Stanley program,” we get to explain how it developed and the uniqueness of some of our clients. More important, it gives us a way to publicly recognize staff contributions. It might be easy to ignore certain actions, efforts, and successes in the course of the day. But Stanley helps us remember that a little recognition goes a long way. The client Melissa observed this would probably be amused learning how this has taken on a life of its own. And, it is the little things like this concept that makes a workplace unique; Stanley is a part of our corporate culture. Remember this if you are ever feeling under appreciated – and go ahead, give yourself a Stanley!