This course includes eight lessons, which you can access flexibly. You're free to go at your own pace. The content has been designed so that you can dip into individual lessons which typically take 30-45 minutes if you complete all the content and reflective activities.

The full course provides comprehensive learning on the theme which equates to the content covered on a one-day face-to-face course. We therefore believe this can play a significant part in your professional development journey.

You may choose to complete this course all by yourself. But, you'll get more out of the learning with some support. So, speak to your manager, coach or mentor to help you decide the best way forward. You could review the learning at the same time as a few colleagues, for instance. This will allow you to share your different thoughts and opinions.

Remember, you're also part of our wider community, with its vast range of experience. So, complete the reflective activities and get involved in the community discussions. Share your unique perspective. We are all there to support each other.

In essence, what matters is that you get as much out of the learning as you can. Take your time to reflect on and apply the key messages in your context. Watch the videos more than once, if possible, and make notes in the downloadable workbook as you go along. Before you know it, you'll put the learning into practice and making a real impact in your role.

Mapping to the standards

This course maps to the Chartered level of the Commercial drive standards. If you just want to gain an introduction to these standards at the Foundation level we recommend that you watch the video below.

This short, animated video provides an overview of the key elements of this core behaviour. It brings to life the seven statements at Foundation level for Commercial drive in the CIPD Profession Map:

  • Show a keen interest in the organisation, its goals, its performance and external influences
  • Identify the steps to achieve agreed tasks and goals
  • Demonstrate that you are customer-focused in your work
  • Demonstrate that you are cost-conscious in your work
  • Demonstrate drive to deliver to a high standard
  • Persevere in the face of difficulties
  • Support others through change and transition.
Play Video
Situational decision making - course overview


Sangeeta and Terry work as members of the people team for a national chain of healthy fast-food restaurants.

It's a profitable market but there are lots of competitors, including other big-brand chains, independent restaurants, and a growing number of home delivery companies.

Being a restaurant of choice is an increasing challenge, but the healthy food focus has proved a unique selling point.

From a highly-successful customer feedback exercise, senior managers learned that customers were concerned about the amount of mixed packaging that was thrown away. As a result, they established a new top-level goal to address the problem.

They considered more sustainable packaging options and as an immediate solution installed bins in all restaurants to separate out recyclable card and plastic waste. They set a target for the next financial year of recycling 50% of waste, although by the end of quarter 1 the company was way behind the target.

Commercial drive means showing a keen interest in the organisation, its goals, its performance and external influences.

Sangeeta and Terry need to stay on top of the important changes that their organisation is undertaking so they can direct their own contributions.

They chatted about the target over a coffee and agreed that more could be done to embed the goal in staff thinking and practice. So, they jointly raised it at as an agenda item for discussion at the next people team meeting and went away to think of some ideas.

Commercial drive means demonstrating that you are customer-focused in your work.

Clearly the organisation has taken this idea to heart with the survey that they conducted. Now it's Sangeeta's and Terry's turn to look at the implications for their own internal customers, the organisation's employees.

At the meeting, led by Magda the people director, Sangeeta noted that nothing had been done to discuss the target in 1-2-1 sessions with staff. She suggested a monthly reward scheme with online vouchers for staff in the top five recycling restaurants.

Terry suggested it would be helpful to introduce the topic of recycling in staff inductions, with a fun refresher activity at the next monthly team meetings. They could also create a short video for delivery on the smart devices available in restaurants along with top tips to engage customers in recycling conversations.

Magda took the ideas to the senior leadership team.

Commercial drive means identifying the steps needed to achieve agreed tasks and goals.

The organisation followed up their customer survey with a plan to increase recycling. Sangeeta and Terry have done a similar job to flesh out their own plans.

Sangeet’s idea on introducing recycling conversations in staff 1-2-1s was considered a brilliant idea. However, the reward scheme was rejected as being too costly. Terry’s ideas for introducing recycling as part of the induction and as a team meeting learning activity were also welcomed, although the video was viewed as too costly as it would require a camera crew.

Commercial drive means demonstrating that you are cost-conscious in your work.

Clearly the leadership team is very aware of costs. Sangeeta and Terry have to show that they are the same.

The two caught up again over coffee and, while delighted that some of their ideas had been taken on board, didn’t feel the feedback on the reward scheme and on the video was entirely justified. So, rather than taking no for an answer, they went away to think of other ways that their suggestions could be implemented.

They emailed Magda and Sergio the CEO with new and detailed proposals.

Commercial drive means persevering in the face of difficulties.

Sangeeta and Terry have shown resilience. They have taken the criticism on the chin and acted to keep their proposals afloat.

Sangeeta calculated that, with current staffing ratios, staff could easily be allowed to go home an hour early on one day in the month in the top five recycling restaurants at very little real cost to the company. Having spoken to a sample of the restaurant managers, they fed back that this would be a valued incentive.

Terry went to his local restaurant and found that several staff were more than happy to create the video themselves. They had some great ideas which could be recorded at no cost using a smart phone.

Magda presented the revised ideas to the senior leadership team.

Sergio said he had been impressed that the two people team members had been persistent in presenting their ideas, which not only made sound commercial sense, but showed real creativity.

There was no doubt in his mind that all four ideas would help the whole organisation to embrace recycling and engage the customer in supporting its goals.

Commercial drive means demonstrating commitment to deliver to a high standard.

Sangeeta and Terry maintained their focus on delivering value to the organisation through their various suggestions.

So, all four ideas were implemented. Sangeeta and Terry were pleased that their initiatives had supported real change and Magda encouraged the rest of the people team to consider ways in which they could also drive transformation within the organisation.

Finally, commercial drive means supporting others through change and transition.

Having ideas is not enough. Sangeeta and Terry have begun taking the steps necessary to realise their proposals.

Throughout this whole exercise they have demonstrated commercial drive, showing how the people team can provide valuable support to the organisation in meeting its objectives.

Learning objectives

This course will help you to build your confidence and practice in:

  • understanding the sector your organisation operates in, its business model and where value is created and lost

  • prioritising people practices, opportunities and risks that drive sustained commercial success and value for people

  • partnering with customers to understand their current and future needs, and contract effectively

  • developing and presenting robust business cases using evidence to demonstrate a return on investment

  • taking responsibility and demonstrating commitment to delivering business outcomes and benefits

  • demonstrating resilience in the face of setbacks, uncertainty or ambiguity and finding a way forward

  • enabling business change through an understanding of culture, capability and structure while mitigating people risks and maximising benefits


You need to be a CIPD member and logged into the website to access each of the lessons.

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Download the course workbook

This interactive workbook will help you to make the most out of the course. Use the workbook to reflect on your learning and record your notes as you go along.