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Managing performance through people

As a manager your role is to get the best from resources and people to achieve what needs to be done. Managing performance combines formal and informal processes, is about setting direction as well as the daily interactions with teams and staff. This course is designed to help you to develop techniques and skills to recognise fluctuations in performance, know when and how to intervene to deal with poor and under-performance and to encourage more consistent results and high performance where it is possible. You will gain some useful tools to develop your own management performance in the workplace.

Standalone study only

You will not be awarded credits for studying this course. It is available for standalone study only and cannot be counted towards an OU qualification.

Short course

Short course code
This is a non-credit bearing course.
Study method
Distance Learning
Short course cost
See Registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

Often when people refer to performance, they really mean 'high performance' in relation to organisations, teams and individuals. In the competitive context of the private sector, those that perform best are considered to have a competitive advantage, a stronger market share or be more profitable. In the public and not-for-profit sectors, performance is more often talked about in terms of efficiencies and sound governance. Increasingly there is a blurring of the lines as in both cases, issues such as reputation, social responsibility and integrity cut across sectors and are areas which impact upon morale, customer satisfaction and the bottom line.

Performance covers not only what is achieved but how it is achieved. There are both formal systems and processes that support performance and informal ones. Managing performance is partly about a process of planning, organising, and setting direction but also monitoring and measuring results.

The course covers elements of setting objectives and providing direction and targets for performance as well as keeping people on track to achieve and succeed. This includes the use of formal and informal feedback and other support skills.

Managing people means performance can fluctuate for many different reasons. Some of these are about individuals; their personal motivation, competence, health and wellbeing over time. Some variations may be more to do with the nature of work itself. Yet another aspect of performance management is dealing with the variation in performance between people in the same team. All this means that for you to be an effective manager you will have to be adept at selecting appropriate strategies and using a variety of skills. There are tips for dealing with difficult situations and practical exercises that you will be able to use immediately in your own work context.

As a result of studying the course you will have been introduced to some best practice, tools and techniques and you will be encouraged to compare and contrast these to your own organisation.

Although the course is not formally assessed, the activities within it, and the feedback provided for these, build towards your own performance development plan. On completion of the course we hope you will have reflected on your own practice as a manager, taken on board some new ideas and knowledge and put in place some objectives for your ongoing development. Most of all the course content and skills are likely to improve your own performance and therefore that of your organisation.

The strong link between course learning and your work practice creates relevant, enduring and transferable outcomes. It requires no more than 25 hours of your time in total, over whatever period suits you. Register online today and start tomorrow – no need to wait!

The course features the distinctive strengths of The Open University (OU) from its years of expertise in work-based learning:

  • The convenience of accessing its clearly presented and sequenced materials, activities and support whenever suits you and wherever you have access to the dedicated website – if you prefer, you can print key materials to work on them offline.
  • The support of an expert learning adviser who can clarify study materials, answer questions and help you relate the course to your specific needs.
  • A work-based activity helping you to connect the course to your individual and organisational context and needs. A learning adviser will review your work-based activity and provide personal feedback.
  • Certification of completion from the OU for those who complete the course. You can use this to demonstrate your continuing professional development (CPD) activity to your employer and/or professional body. (NB the course does not carry academic credit points.)

You will learn

After completing this course you should be able to:
  • describe the foundations and elements of organisational performance and its role in your organisation
  • identify the ways in which individual performance objectives need to align with organisational performance objectives
  • recognise your own impact as a manager on your teams performance
  • set meaningful objectives, standards and expectations that encourage employee achievement
  • recognise the causes of individual fluctuations in performance
  • draw on a variety of tools and techniques to manage a range of performance issues.

Professional recognition

Successful completion of the course enables us to recognise your achievement of the course learning by issuing an OU certificate that you can use to document your commitment to continuing professional development in your personal portfolio, or to provide evidence to employers or professional body.

Learner support

Expert, confidential learner support is available when you need it from a learning adviser, who will respond to you direct within 24 hours. Other support is available via the course forum, library, StudentHome website and computing helpdesk.

Outside the UK

This course has been written primarily for a UK context, but will have relevance to other contexts.

Future availability

This course is now in its final year of presentation and the last date to register is 30 April 2020.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations, which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Entry requirements

    Although there are no formal academic requirements to study any of our CPD courses, you are expected to have some experience in the field and the course assumes a familiarity with the subject.

    You can register and begin at any time up until 30 April 2020. You can study at your own pace and submit your work-based activity at any date before the final submission date for the course.

    Please note that depending on when you register, you will have at least six months to submit your work based activity. The final submission date is 10 October 2020. If you feel six months may not be sufficient time for your study and submission, please contact us to discuss your options before you register.


    Start End England fee Register
    At anytime Flexible - see Entry requirements for more detail £295.00 Register

    Ways to pay

    Credit/Debit Card – We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron.

    Sponsorship – If this course is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could ask your employer to sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. Your sponsor just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.

    The fee information provided here is valid for short courses starting in the 2019/20 academic year. Fees for short courses starting in the 2020/21 academic year or later may increase in line with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

    What's included

    All learning materials, exercises, study support and the work-based activity are delivered entirely online.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • Mac OS X 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The course is delivered online and makes use of a variety of online resources. If you use specialist hardware or software to assist you in using a computer or the internet you are advised to contact us about support which can be given to meet your needs. If you are a new learner with the OU, make sure that you look at our website.