There’s an interesting concept I came across the other day called shallow teaching. It can also be extended to what is called shallow management. It seems contradictory at first glance to what a teacher to pupil or manager to employee relationship seeks to achieve (by straight interpretation of the term) but there’s so much more to it. The concept is based on the most effective form of motivation and that is that an individual’s motivation is strongest (or most effective) when it’s wrapped around a sense of ownership.
For instance, I could tell an employee (if I had employees!) a possible solution to a problem and explain at length the steps he/she should take to get it done. The motivation that drives that employee would be centered on pleasing the supervisor, maintaining a good relationship and ultimately keeping the job!
A shallow management style would approach the situation differently. The supervisor would approach the employee and appear ‘out of depth’. For example I’d approach my hypothetical employee (let’s call him Tim) and inform him of the problem at hand. I’d sit down with Tim for a while in an attempt to ‘nut out’ the problem and rather than just come up with solutions, I’d guide him towards the solution and an action plan (which I already had) but also I’d give him space to add his individual spin on things. When we get to that solution, I’d complement Tim on his great idea and tell him I look forward to seeing how it all comes about. This might take a little longer than a directive approach but it’s worth the time when you consider the outcome. The directive approach also tends to launch the sabotaging ‘I want to prove him wrong’ thing.
So, Tim now is not just motivated but becomes inspired. He came up with this great idea (he now owns it – he probably put a good spin on things anyway) and now he’s all fired up to get things happening and to see the idea come to fruition. He’s no longer motivated by external factors (pleasing the boss / keeping the job), because he’s now inspired by his own ideas and his motivation (or inspiration) comes from his positive sense of self (and holding on to that). So Tim is now inspired and becomes so much more effective.
There’s another take on this called the shallow selling. Its about setting up a situation where your potential client solves his or her problem by coming across your product.