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Making work matter for staffGetty Images/iStockphoto

People want to know that their work matters. And with all the fuss about employee engagement these days, this can get leaders trying to tell staff why they ought to find their work meaningful, or defining what makes the work meaningful.

But on her Management Craft blog, consultant Lisa Haneberg muses that it's more complicated than that. If managers try to make work seem meaningful, it just reinforces the sense of supervisory control that employees dislike. Rather than focus on meaning, she argues leaders should do the following:

–Get to know each person and build strong bonds.

–Become a catalyst, letting your employees lead while you become a follower.

–Let jobs morph with change and be open to hearing about ideas subordinates have for how their role might be reinvented.

–Urge employees to be "in the moment" in their work habits (as Zen principles put it), because this connects to fulfilment.

–Allow employees to get excited about the aspects of their job that bring them the most satisfaction. "As the leader, you get to decide how performance will be judged and rewarded, but you cannot tell people which task means more to them," she notes.

–Never allow a day to pass without letting your team members know how much they mean to you.