http://blogs.hbr.org/hill-lineback/2011/04/the-most-important-question-a.html" target="_blank">Harvard Business Review
" … You'll get a variety of answers, especially in the beginning — including non-answers ("Gee, nothing. Keep doing what you're doing.") and requests you can't do much about — personal problems, company policies you can't change, complaints about colleagues who make this person's work life miserable, as well as personal requests you can't or won't address (such as "Raise my pay" from someone whose performance is mediocre). Take everything under advisement, if you can't respond immediately. Promise to take action when you think it's warranted but resist efforts to "delegate up".
You will also get answers that are implicit or even explicit criticisms of you. Respond to these by explaining yourself, but don't argue or react defensively. Admit mistakes, if appropriate. At the least, respond with, "Let me think about that. Thanks for telling me."
Discuss, listen, explain, educate, and, above all, understand what the person or group is saying. Be caring but candid. If you can't change company policies or pay grades, explain that. If you disagree with what you're hearing, talk about that respectfully. These are opportunities for both or all of you to learn.
Beyond such answers, however, you will hear ways you really can make people more effective. Finding that may require discussion, careful listening, and respectful probing, and a willingness on your part to hear hard things and to change.
And they pay dividends. They build trust, they help people work together better and do better work, they identify and remove obstacles.
… Like it or not, what people think is what they think, and you need to know what that is. Above all, you need to know what people expect from you … "