The seventh item on Gallup's list of 12 Elements of Employee Engagement is one that I often find triggers a tendency towards counterproductive zero sum thinking:
At work, my opinions seem to count.
From both leaders and employees, I often see a binary view of this that stops a productive conversation in its tracks.
If I had a magic wand, I'd permanently quash both of those sentiments. Not only are they not helpful (for either party), but they are actually extremely untrue.
Listening to your employees with empathy, asking questions and trying to put yourself in their shoes may not make their requests any more actionable, but it is an enormously valuable trust-building exercise and one that has the potential to broaden your perspective in ways you could not imagine or do by yourself.
Unless your boss (very recently) did your job, odds are that they are not intimately familiar with what walking in your shoes feels like. Additionally, by virtue of their role, they are probably splitting their attention across a much broader spectrum of issues than you can always see from where you sit in the organization. As a result, your perspective can be enormously valuable if it's framed as a productive way to make things better.
Of course, the downside is if either side of this conversation devolves into pissing and moaning. A little venting is often helpful, as long as everyone keeps some perspective and then moves on. Whining, however, is never helpful -- either about an actual issue or your lot in life.
My best tips for new managers when it comes to making inroads on this difficult challenge -- especially those who work in larger, corporate environments where managers are often handcuffed when it comes to a lot of things about daily life:
A final thought on this is about repeating yourself: As someone who absolutely hates having to repeat herself and often gets frustrated when I feel like someone missed something important I know I already addressed, I get why this is a source of frustration for leaders, but it is necessary. The Rule of Seven is an ageold sales and advertising rule that is a good rule of thumb for all forms of persuasion -- which this is. Consistency of your message here is critical, and do not assume that you can get away with saying it any LESS than seven times before people actually START to hear it.
P.S. I have a new free download on my site, to help you work through the question of what you need from work.