Yes, it’s true. Today is my birthday! And I don’t share this with you because I’m asking for anything quite yet, as I am a very low-key birthday person. I have family members who celebrate their birthday for the entire month and friends who celebrate for a week – you may do the same. I am super low-key though; when my family asks what I want, I am “no gifts” because I do not like stuff, I’m very much a minimalist. I like to have dinner, let’s invite my parents and my mother-in-law over, very low-key on my birthday.

However, this year, because it is falling on a Thursday, I do have an ask as a birthday gift for me – but really, it’s a gift for your employees. Today, on my birthday, I am asking that you go to each one of your direct reports and you create an experience that makes them feel like today is their birthday. And I have three specific questions I want you to ask in this very kind of intimate, sincere, personal conversation. This should not be done as a passing conversation, as a casual thing at the end of a check-in.

I want you to intentionally set up, even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes, be intentional and ask these three specific questions: number one, how are they feeling? Be sincere about this, legitimately, how are they feeling right now? And just be there to listen to them as much as they want to share. One of the tricks that we use in our employee development process is to ask how they’re rating or how they’re feeling on a scale of 1 to 10. So if that feels more comfortable for you, go for that. But just ask how they’re feeling.

Number two, ask what they are most excited about right now. Now, it may be something professional, it may be something personal, but allow them to have this kind of celebratory birthday feeling, by letting them share what they’re most excited about. And number three, ask how you as their leader could support them today. That might be support specifically right now on a project, it might be support for development in the future. But how can you, as their leader, support them? That is my birthday ask, my birthday wish is for you to go pay it forward, create a birthday celebration and feeling for your employees, and go have a genuine, honest conversation today. I thank you sincerely for doing so!