Preventing Relapse for a Training Program

‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing - that is why we recommend it daily’ said Zig zagler. One of the strong objections to the usefulness of training is that the impact of training programs doesn’t last longer and that employees get back to older ways of doing things sooner. This may be true for motivation which is like an injection, the effect of which soon starts to fade away.

True, that a trainer or training has to ensure that not only does an employee sit for a training program, he or she should be sufficiently motivated to attend the latter and convinced about the usefulness of the same. Not only motivation, changes in behaviour and attitudinal changes also start to wane away when employees face a high risk situation where they may not afford to take chance practising their new skill. Most people therefore face a relapse after a certain period of time, howsoever good the training may have been or howsoever the trainer may have put in his efforts.

Training relapses are experienced in both technical and behavioural trainings. For example anger management may have been one of the interventions for a certain employee training and the trainees may have actually exhibited a good behaviour during the training program. But then when the same trainee faces trouble handling one of his subordinates or does not get some assigned task or job finished in time, he or she may get back to the old behaviour. Such relapses are important to prevent because they dilute the impact of the training program.

The model of relapse prevention should be an essential part of the training programs. This model lays stress on the importance of self control and prevents relapse by informing the trainees about situations that may lead them to switch to existing behaviours. For example in a certain quality management program, it was decided that the materials in a production line will be carried by conveyor belts rather than the traditional method of ferrying by hands. The new method was implemented successfully until the plant faced a problem and it did not know what to do. The belt stopped suddenly and since material output in the preceding step acted as input in the next step, all the production activity was hampered. Panic took over in 10 minutes time before the plant workers began carrying them with hands which led to chaos.

In the above mentioned example, there was a fundamental error in quality management training that did not inform the trainees about situations that may arise and how to act in those! These situations are discussed as part of the relapse prevention in the training. Furthermore it may not be possible for the trainer to pre-empt all the situations that may arise, acting at the spur of the moment with losing self control and being aware to the moment is something that can well be taught / discussed in a training.


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