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Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO)

CIPD Assessment Activity

Title of unit/s

Improving Organisational Performance

Unit No/s




Credit value


Assessment method

Primary research activities

Written research report

Expiry date


Learning outcomes:

  1. Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO).
  2. Understand the contribution of performance management to high levels of performance and the role of line managers in the process.
  3. Know how to create and sustain a community of practice to build a high-performance culture.

Assessment brief/activity

As part of an ongoing programme of organisational change, your HR director wants to introduce a new performance management process, which will sit alongside other people management and HR practices that have been designed to support High Performance Working within your organisation.

She has asked you to conduct the research activities shown below, and to write up your findings in the form of a short research report.

Activity 1 – Research and provide a short research report on the idea of High Performance Working (HPW), and the extent to which it supports sustainable organisational performance.

Review of a range of literature sources, to support:

  • An explanation and analysis of:
  • The concept of HPW and reference at least two theorists
  • Definitions of the key components of HPW (i.e. perspectives on the range of processes, practices or systems that might be included in the HPW best practice bundle
  • Barriers to implementing HPW in organisations
  • An evaluation of the evidence demonstrating a link between HPW and:
  • Employee well-being
  • Competitive advantage
  • Sustainable organisational performance

Activity 2 – Research the principles of performance management implementation in organisations, and report on:

  • The main stages of the performance management cycle, and the role of development and performance reviews.
  • A range of ways to involve line managers effectively in the performance review process.
  • How performance management processes contribute to promoting challenges, capability, or recognising and rewarding talent.
  • Methods of building trust, enthusiasm and commitment to support a high-performance culture within an organization.
  • Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO)

Write up your findings from each task in the form of a report of approximately 3900 words.

Note: All reference sources should be acknowledged correctly and a bibliography provided where appropriate (thes should be excluded from the word count).

Assessment Criteria





















Evidence to be produced/required

A written report of approximately 3900 words


Guidance for Assessors: 5IVP

This guidance is for assessors only and should not be handed out to candidates.

Candidates should relate the report to academic concepts and theories and professional practice to the way organisations operate, in a critical and informed way, and with reference to key texts, articles and other publications and by using organisational examples for illustration. Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO). All sources should be supported by citations presented in the format that the centre determines.

Overall expectations for the assessment

Word count for report is approximately 3900 words

Activity 1


AC 1.1, 1.2, 1.3

Elements included in the literature review of HPW:

Learners should demonstrate an understanding of HPW as a concept, and include reference to at least 2 theorists.  They should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the key features that identify the HPW, and/or alternative terms that may be used to define or refer to HPW. Components/ or best practice bundles associated with HPW should be discussed: e.g. HPW as transformational (moving towards a culture of empowerment and alignment); HPW enabling practices/activity including: leadership and strategy, work organisation, organisation development, employee involvement, employee reward.

Learners should refer to research and other literature that evaluates the link between HPW and sustained organisation performance, employee well-being and competitive advantage. (At minimum should expect reference to one piece of seminal research such as Purcell) Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO)

Analysis should consider evidence for how HPW can contribute to the achievement of organisational objectives, and be evaluated against measures of organisation success (e.g  productivity, profit, innovation, labour turnover, employee and customer satisfaction).  Should also consider the roles of HR and line management in driving organisational change and performance and developing culture to support sustainable high performance.

Main barriers to HPW should include reference to issues covering the key areas of cost,  structure and processes (e.g. org type, rigidity of structure and process, regulation and quality requirements, unionised or not);  culture (e.g. attitudes to change, lack of trust)

Activity 2

AC 2.1, 2.2, 2.3

Elements included in the analysis of current performance management systems

Learners should describe good practice definitions of the performance management cycle (typically: 1 setting objectives, 2 performing and developing;  3 performance review). They should mention, and if they desire can evaluate aspects of their own practice against each of the elements of the cycle: 

  • Objective setting - linked with organisational goals? Consideration of development needs?
  • Performing and development – alignment with other HR and people management practices (HPW practices?) culture of high performance and support of development?  Processes for ad hoc performance management and development opportunities
  • Performance and development reviews – detailed consideration of: goals and measures (SMART and aligned with ethos of HPW?); discussion of achievements and challenges? (within an ethos of HPW); identifying and addressing development needs? (in line with org and individual goals?); links to reward? (compatible with HPW ethos); records and paperwork (barrier or enabler?). How aligned is the Performance review with the ethos and culture of performance?

Learners should identify how line managers can be involved in the performance review process E.g:

  • Role in the performance development review (leading or following? Following a structured process or more informal?)
  • Role in day-to-day performance feedback
  • Extent to which line manager is involved in disciplinary process (formal and informal)
  • Extent to which line manager is involved in reward decisions
  • Extent of involvement / interest in personal / profession development activity of team
  • Role of line manager as coach mentor or counsellor
  • Extent to which performance of line manager as a performance manager is evaluated (e.g. own appraisal, self-assessment and 360 feedback)
  • Extent to which line manager creates or negatively impacts on culture of high performance
  • Extent to which line manger feels they can influence performance processes
  • Understand the concept of high-performance working (HPW) and its contribution to creating and sustaining a high-performance work organisation (HPWO)

Learners should evaluate the performance management process and its contribution to promoting challenges, capability or recognition and reward of talent, for example

  • Performance improvement – improving organizational capability and challenging employees to raise performance
  • Recognising and rewarding high performance - ability to identify and measure high performing teams and individuals in a transparent and equitable way.  i.e. does measurement consider a range of performance dimensions including achievement, competency in role and job behaviour/ role modeling? (e.g use of balance scorecard)

Activity 3

AC 3.1

Elements included in conclusions recommendations

Learners should consider the role that HR and line managers have in the various methods of building trust, enthusiasm and commitment in support of a high-performance culture.

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