Training – The Sheep Dip Approach

Do you subject your employees to the old training ritual of sheep dipping?

This is a process by which employees are “refreshed”, and “re-invigorated” when attending established training courses. Yes, you know those courses that run year on year whether or not they are aligned to business or specific individual development needs ! 

Those employees, who are stale, and wilting, are herded onto  a refresher course, you justify this as necessary because these employees have forgotten what they have learned on previous courses and the sheep dip will cleanse them of that infection called faulty thinking.

Definition: Sheep Dip

The term sheep dip refers to a liquid made of insecticide and fungicide which shepherds  dip their sheep into to protect them from infestation.

The term is used in business to refer to the process of training all employees in an organization in a general subject of wide applicability

Feeling Sheepish?

Go on admit it; you just love the sheep dip because it’s so easy to administer that “Same as before”  training model therefore avoiding a thorough training needs analysis – and you think this can cut costs.

Simply, get your training department to produce a list of courses, use the same old training providers with the same content, these  sheep dip farmers  love your approach because it enables them to recycle the same outdated programme time after time.

BINGO! There you have it your sheep dip, Oh sorry, you call it a training and development plan!

The limitations of The Sheep Dip Approach

Sheep dipping where the trainer herds groups of people from all walks of life into a room regardless of their development needs can be problematic. People are individuals they have different development requirements and will apply learning in different ways and in a range of environments; this approach is a little like dipping all your sheep in dye of the same colour and expecting them to act like individuals

Learn From The Thought Herders

Training departments who are performance focused organise their thinking differently – They focus on learning that is relevant to the business and learning that is specific to the individual’s development needs, their role and its required contribution to the business. Relevance is a key component and this applies both to the business context in which learning takes place and to the learner’s situation in relation to it.

Employees are not Sheep!

I am not a shepherd, but know that even sheep need incentives and that’s why the sheep dog moves them towards food and away from danger.

Employees are not sheep they are individuals and unlike sheep they are resourceful, practical and capable when provided with an incentive. A learning opportunity is an incentive to improve, and  can lead to opportunities to increase the employee’s value to the company.

  Drucker “Great wisdom is meaningless if not applied to action”

Bespoke Solutions

Customised training and development programmes will inevitably be more effective than the sheep dip approach because the content is specifically designed to address individual development needs aligned to the requirements of their role in the business. Programmes that are customised combine a range of delivery methods to facilitate learning rather than simply deliver training on mass.

Raise the Baa….h

There are strong parallels between the behaviour of a herd of sheep and human behaviour. Humans flock like sheep! Building a performance focused training department involves raising the bar, stop herding all of your employees through the same sheep dip leaving the alternatives undiscovered because all that will develop are sheep in employee clothing.

Herd your thoughts around that idea

 Spectrain’s Guide to evaluating training activity is available:


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