#yours

Perry Timms
9 min readDec 1, 2023

You have all you need to succeed. It’s yours.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/text-on-pink-background-8965132/

Not being trite here, but that’s what I’ve realised as I’ve been absorbed in the month of November 2023. For a range of reasons and that’s been noticed by a few of you. So thanks to those who’ve connected with me and given me their counsel, support and comfort.

It’s been a month to record as a learning curve for me and those closest to me in working endeavours.

Reflecting on that month — and the year to date — one word keeps coming up for me, ownership. So I could’ve titled the blog post that but I wanted to make this a little more personally slanted. So #yours is the theme.

Why?

Because it’s your life. Your choices. Your work. Your priorities. Your decisions in those. Your time to spend. Your focus to craft. Your direction to set. Your chances to conjure up. Your measurement of success. Your learning to drive. Your quest to fulfil. You own yourself. It’s probably about all you do own, but it might not always feel like that.

But it’s yours with a caveat — yours aligned to something bigger than you.

We hear a lot of this:

“The <insert an institution nomenclature> instruction/direction they’ve set is just not right.”

“They insist it’s done this way.”

“They don’t listen. And even if they might, they don’t act on it.”

“They don’t understand what’s most important.”

And it may be that there are strongly forced terms, directions, plays, and declarations made, but there’s still one key factor in all of this:

How you chose to react and act. That is yours, 100% yours.

Take a massive organisation that insists on increased attendance in the office. Yes, they may monitor how many times you swipe into the office and then show you the statistics on that, and that you’re not “compliant” with their 4 out of 5 days in a place.

But if you can point to the outcomes, the impact, the successes, the breakthroughs, the connectivity and the support you’ve given across all of the days that you are diligently tending to the work you’re there to do, which is the stronger evidence? Swipes on an electronic access system or the ACTUAL work you do?

Owning your work, caring about and attending to your responsibilities and showing support for your colleagues may mean you deviate from some (random) directive, but the higher ground to take on this is the impact and value of what you do.

You may not feel you can influence a better directive but within that directive is a real-world interpretation of what you do regardless of the venue, attendance at a place and more about the overall value you bring in your work.

You may feel that is an unnecessary ask and breaches trust, but in the face of a rather blanket directive, it’s your responsibility to show up wherever is really the best place to show up, show what you do and show the value of that as your best counter to mere attendance.

Performance Management has again reared its head as a busted flush system in the world of work. So I’m seeing again, people looking at the flow and compliance with perfunctory review meetings, scoring and the bureaucracy of filling in forms.

See above. It’s YOUR performance, your ownership of how your work adds value and your continued focus on improving that, stabilising that, giving it all you’ve got and showing the results and gains your work brings.

Another one. Engagement Survey time. Culture takes a kicking. Some dissent in the ranks about understanding and balance. So the leadership team pushes out a response and instigates changes.

“They want the impossible. They don’t care, don’t know, don’t realise, don’t appreciate, etc.”

Those things might be true but ultimately, it’s your performance, your workload, your development and your part to play in calling out imbalances and working on not relying on the survey as your outlet to show some discourse.

You may feel trapped. Helpless in an overstacked role with no choice but to hunker down and do what you can.

But it’s also your opportunity to step up and show why this is an unfair expectation. An outrageous continuous ask. A poorly conceived and applied system of work allocation. A series of alternatives to restore balance.

Outsourcing things in your domain, role, learning and task backlogs is unlikely to lead to a successful recalibration of anything.

Hang on, isn’t this putting the “blame” or the resolution in the wrong place? Surely this is what supervisors, managers and leaders are paid to do?

Maybe. Maybe not. Let’s consider that they should but they don’t. What do you do then? Passively hope they will? Choose to sit tight and wait until it gets into a chaotic state? Or take a front-foot approach and do something yourself.

Whether managers (in many instances who we might look at to make changes and bring in improvements) should is not the question to ask in terms of influence, control, containment and clearing things up.

It’s what ownership we’re prepared to take that should be our first port of call. What can we do that isn’t papering over cracks but pays attention to the system I’m in, and as an instrument of change and action, what can I do and own that will result in resolution, better, improvements, fairness and equalising forces to help me, help myself. And others.

This is why self-organised teams and self-managed systems of work win for me.

Because we don’t abdicate anything to a supervisor or manager. We take ownership of us and the things we’re a part of.

Yes, your work is a part of something. Your connections to the greater good.

Your appreciation and understanding of the whole unit/team/function focus. Your understanding of prioritisation, and not based on you solely, but on you in the bigger picture of the whole. Your learning about the grander scheme of things.

Your focus on what matters most in the sense of aligned self-interest. If it’s not aligned, it’s just self-interest. Or even self-indulgence.

Your understanding that you may not always be right and seek the counsel of others to align that. Your understanding that you in self-management does not mean you in isolation. And that’s the important bit about it being yours. Yours with responsibility, accountability, clarity, togetherness.

You — the self in self-management — is not indulgent you, but the agent of you within a wider sense of purpose, meaning, participation, contribution and development of self. Towards that greater good. Not just your greater good but your greater good within a bigger form of good.

Just yours without the sense of greater good is veering dangerously towards self-indulgent, even narcissistic and self-promoting. Ego not eco (as Otto Scharmer would say).

Self-managed systems of work allow you to influence you, in congruence with the wider sense of significance to those with you, and who you do it all for and beyond the notion of self in any form of isolation.

So self-management does not mean “I do what I want, regardless” it means “I know what matters most beyond me alone, and I self-direct in how I achieve that.”

Self-management really means you are making choices that are beyond the entirety of self. Yours in context. That has a purity to it that I’m not sure some of us appreciate and understand enough and can apply to ourselves.

Self-management also means you socialise, narrate, be open, transparent, prepared to adjust, strengthen others around you, commit and deliver. Because you choose to do so in the best interests of the system as a whole, and others in that system. You don’t abdicate that to others who connect dots, you connect and allow others to connect. No funnelling or chaneling through managers; more like open-source sharing allowing others to choose to do the same and create more natural and lasting connections. No comms propaganda or furthering own agendas, furthering the agenda becomes yours, and proliferating intelligence to respect others’ part in that agenda/system.

You own you. You own what needs doing. You own the connection to others and the cause. No one interferes with that and everyone knows what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and when you’re doing it.

You also own that you won’t always be right. You own that you will seek advice on a decision or prioritisation. You own that you’re accountable to others in your team because there’s no supervisor to appease or take direction from.

You own you and what’s yours. And what’s yours is what’s best for those with you. Not your best, our best. Yours is ours. But you own you within that, for sure. Just owning you isn’t enough though. Owning you and respecting us is what truly matters.

I’ve no doubts that hierarchical lines and layers of managers have been introduced to simplify this. After all, this sounds more complex.

“I set my priorities and work. But wait, that’s not just about me, it’s about what’s best for the collective I’m a part of? That’s too complicated for me. I thought it was just about me and what I chose to do (isn’t that self-management, self-direction in its purest form?).

No, oh well then, I’ll just default to an all-controlling line manager and then when I don’t like what they say/do, I can point to them as interfering and forcing me. I can sit back and not take ownership of things that way. Easier life. But less fulfilling. I accept that’s a trade I will make.”

Or something like that.

Harsh on people? Maybe.

But if we look at you in life, you don’t have a line manager who chooses what hobbies you pursue, how you spend leisure time or what to buy in the supermarket. You direct yourself. But, if you’re in a family unit and you know the younglings need a particular type of cereal you don’t like, you don’t deny them that. You get it because it’s best for the collective. You don’t have a line manager telling you to do that, but you do make that choice because it’s best for the team.

Same in working in a self-managed system. It’s all about you and not just about you. It’s a paradox we navigate in life but seem to reject in work and favour being machine-like programmed by someone else.

So anyway, it’s yours. You are yours. And in self-managed systems, there’s the most pure interpretation of that. And the reason it’s the most pure IMHO is that it has to be aligned to something greater than you. So you have to accept that it isn’t you as the centre of everything. It’s you as a part of the something that is everything.

We talk a lot about humanising the workplace/work/businesses.

I sense we can do that IF we accept that there are boundaries to it which I believe self-managed systems offer the best chance. To make sure those boundaries are not oppressive or coercive (as they are now in hierarchical, power-dominated, command-and-control systems).

If we just keep wishing for a more humanised workplace etc, we’re not going to get it. We’re going to get “humanised work theatre” with undertones of coercive, gentler dominance, pastiches of care, and no more openness that we’ve got now. We’ll be disappointed in that result.

However, if we de-layer, go more self-organised and self-managed, we have to manage a maturity need and a mastery curve.

Because we need to master what #yours is really about.

Which is not the self-indulged yours, it’s the aligned yours. It’s the collectively framed yours. And I’m not sure we’re aware of that enough.

And to all of us, as uniquely framed individuals — yours doesn’t just mean yours. It means you own what’s yours within that something greater and accepting that’s the purest sense of you you’ll get in work.

Confused? That’s yours to own and do something about.

Convinced? That’s also yours because the context of you knowing, doing and being self-managed will be yours to craft, yours to align, and yours to sustain. Within something that isn’t purely yours. A collective sense of a greater good that you will own you within, and what is yours will become a truly magnificent element of something you deserve.

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Perry Timms

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2023 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan