I was recently discussing “sheep-dip” training with a friend. I believe it is a necessary form of training, but it also has it’s pitfalls. My friend told me his theory on participants who attend “sheep-dip” training. He said participants fall into one of three categories:
1) Learner: this participant is there to genuinely learn as much as they can from the session. This type of learner is attentive during the session, gets actively involved in group work and brings high levels of energy into the room.
2) Prisoner: this participant is there because they have been “told” to attend. They don’t want to be there and don’t see why they need to be there. They don’t want to contribute and they will lower the energy levels in the room.
3) Vacationer: the person who’s attending because it’s an excuse for a “day off ” from their normal job. They will get involved, but are not really interested in learning anything – more about having fun and avoiding the work they left behind on their desk.
Understanding which category your learners fall into is crucial when you’re delivering “sheep-dip” training. Sometimes the whole room appears to be full of “prisoners”: the session will appear to drag, and contributions from participants will be minimal.
Other times you might find your session full of “learners” who are actively engaged in the subject matter; spontaneous and stimulating debates will emerge generating high impact learning around the subject matter.
Next time you’re delivering “sheep-dip” training, ask participants
“What kind of learner are you? Prisoner, vacationer or learner?”
This is a quick and easy way to ease the tension in the room – particularly if it is full of prisoners. Not only will this help you – but it will help the participants recognise themselves. And the end result? You’ll have more learners in the room than when you started.