Beyond the template manager

Martin Bicknell, lead educator of the University of Reading’s free online course, ‘Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce, discusses the importance of successful management in the workplace.

Managing People: engaging your workforce

It’s always an interesting time when something you’ve been thinking about for ages comes close to fruition.  Our course on managing people started on Monday and so it’s a good time to share my hopes with you.  Firstly, I do hope that you will continue to recommend the course to friends and colleagues, and share your progress with them.  Secondly, I look forward to working with you to push this new and exciting form of management development to its limits so that together we can create a relevant and enjoyable learning experience that will help your broader development.

Over my own career I’ve seen the best and the worst of management practices. Bad practice has consequences for organisations but, even more importantly to me, it can ruin lives.  I passionately believe that this should not and need not happen.

I fully admit that managing people is very difficult.  In this course, we will not be offering any magic bullets.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that it is an insult to suggest that managing people can be reduced to a few generic checklists or simple solutions that can be applied by anyone without thinking.  We can’t rely on templates when we’re dealing with people.

So, if not providing templates, what is the course trying to achieve?

As a community of managers and would-be managers, we will do our job better if:

  • We think about people and situations.
  • We share experience; we seek out good practice and learn from it
  • We are open to, and explore, new ways of thinking about problems.
  • We are never complacent.

Understanding this will give you more of a feel for the nature of the course and the way we’ve designed it.  Yes, we are exploring concepts and ideas but we need to then work to move theory into practice – and we will do that through reflection and discussion with colleagues and others on the course.  If you want to get the most out of the course, it is really important to engage with the ideas, and discuss with others how they can be applied to the real world.  These discussions will be exciting and informative, and the team and I really look forward to joining in.

Many organisations already have many participants on the course.   If you work for a large organisation please encourage others to join by sending them the link  Getting a group together from one organisation is a really effective way of using the course.  You can explore shared concerns and look for common solutions.  If you also participate in the general discussions you will get the best of both worlds – the broad outlook that comes from different perspectives, and the ability to focus on shared issues.

Everyone who has or will have a management role has a responsibility to promote good management practice.  I’m looking forward to playing my own part in supporting your own personal endeavour in this regard.

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Comments (15)


  • Albert Nwanne

    I am interested to participate on this course, managing people, engaging your work force, University of Reading, by Henley business school, I have signed in for the course, but, it did not show up on my learning profile, in order to commence, I tried to add it to my Wishlist, it did not show up. How ever, I really want to commence on this course immediately, if it has started. My regards. Thanks in advance. Albert Nwanne.

  • Alpha Sesay

    Hi. I Just registered few hours ago and realized i’ve already missed some. How do i get materials for the past weeks to catch up with my colleagues? thanks.

  • Renan Faria

    I want to participate of managers discussion.

  • benjamin modebe

    I find this discourse on “engaging your workforce”interesting.Indeed no template can be offered in dealing with people

  • rupesh kashyap

    Hi Mr. Martin Bicknell,

    I am excited to join this course and it happened at the right time as I was looking for insights and management practices for the same. Looking forward to have an enriching session. Thank you.

  • Liliana Torero Fernandez

    Hi – Is this course going to become available to register at some point? Unfortunately I missed the May registration! many thanks. Liliana

  • Irene Climie

    Sorry, have just noticed this course – I don’t seem to get all available courses sent to me. Is it too late to join?

  • hamed

    Hi, I would like to business free courses and I rejistered but I cant sign in, please help me

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Hamed, thank you for getting in touch. If you are having difficulties accessing the course, please get in touch with our team by email to and someone will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks.

  • Leeanne

    A previous response states you can join up to the last day of the last week. Is there a deadline to complete this course? and do you still have access to the full materials if you sign up later than the listed start date? Thanks

    • The FutureLearn team

      Hi Leeanne, thank you for getting in touch. Once registered the course materials will be open for you indefinitely and there is no deadline for finishing the course. You can learn at your own pace and if you miss a week you will be able to catch up later on. I hope this is helpful. Happy learning!

      • Leeanne

        Thank you.

  • Suzanne Wright

    I noticed the managing your people course today and I would really love to do it, unfortunately as I only noticed it today I was too late to sign up. So I was wondering if I would still be able to join the course or if I’m too late.

    • Andy Murray

      Suzanne you can still join… Right up to the last day of the last week

  • Mhlanga, Kinglet

    I wish to join the panel of business mangers’ discussion.