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Job Placement Success: Why empowerment matters

MatchWork believes that the secret to success is empowerment, or active agency. Consider the systems thinking iceberg below:


Behaviours, events or visible actions, at the tip of the iceberg, are often what people are judged on. However, addressing only the tip of the iceberg rarely accomplishes sustainable change; there are critical but invisible factors that feed the behaviour.

On the next level down, patterns of behaviour are considered a more reliable form of predicting future choices. This requires paying close attention to themes over time in various settings.

However, to move beyond simplistic judgments we must move another layer down to foster empathy. Analyzing system structures offers a deep understanding of how people do the best they can with what they’ve got. If we recognize which systems support or undermine the behavioural patterns, then we acknowledge that these shaping influences cannot be overstated. While systems are not easily changed, understanding how the system influences our choices can help us better adapt according to our reality.

Finally, to gain the deep understanding connected to lasting success, we must acknowledge that all these elements are founded on certain values, assumptions and beliefs. Generally, individuals whose values and beliefs align with systems tend to find success, while those who are misaligned often find themselves marginalized. For example, our current international model values education, so many educated individuals tend to attain higher paying jobs. Notably, as systems are complex, there will always be exceptions to “the rule”.

So how does the systems triangle play out in real life? Let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Pradesh is constantly being reprimanded at work because he regularly arrives late. This pattern of behaviour happens to have been tracked by management, and they are not impressed because at their work, the systems in place require everyone to arrive at 7:00 a.m. sharp. The workplace values punctuality as a sign of respect to the workplace.

As context, Pradesh has developed this pattern of behaviour as the sole breadwinner for his family. He has a wife and three young children and also helps look after his elderly in-laws (circumstances). He works two jobs to help make ends meet and has a schedule (system) that allows for everything that he needs to get done – including at his day job – so he feels like he is doing his work and being 10-15 minutes late is not a problem. He values family and accomplishing shared goals over punctuality.

In this situation, how might a deep analysis of systems and values shape the conversation management will have with Pradesh? Depending on values, one manager might believe that Pradesh should learn to simply be on time, while another might think that his management should be more flexible. This is an example of how conflicts can arise from misalignment – through a difference in values.

MatchWork aims to help people understand their own values and those of the people they interact with to navigate such conflicts. Sometimes mutually beneficial solutions will be possible, and sometimes they will not be depending on who has the final say. Ultimately, the goal is to engage in informed communication that considers multiple perspectives to ensure not only the employees voice is heard, but that the employee understands management’s perspective as well.

In summary, at MatchWork, we believe that empowered, intentional living comes from having a strong understanding of who you are and knowing that you matter to a group of people. These are called identity and belonging, and are two of the most powerful human needs that shape our behaviours. The approach that MatchWork endorses involves both internal and external change that will help a person become more like themselves:

  1. Self-awareness and a shift to growth-mindset (internal)
  2. Opportunities to develop self (internal & external resources)
  3. Community-building and supports (external)

Read Next: Unpacking Success

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