Looking Through the Johari Window

Imagine a workplace where employees are encouraged to approach their fellow team members and tell them about some of the good, and the not so good things that they do, and perhaps things that they don’t even realize they are doing.

Someone might learn that her body language broadcasts the disdain she’s likely feeling. Someone else might hear that he or she is closed off to new ideas, and crush innovative thinking. Another might discover that he’s a doormat and needs to be more assertive.

Sound like the stuff of nightmares? It could be, but here at The Network Support Company we are passionate about developing our employees to be the best version of themselves. It is a safe assumption that personal issues that negatively affect a person and their co-workers at work also negatively impact their lives outside of work. By helping employees identify areas for growth, we are not only improving our work environment and performance but also helping them in other parts of their lives. This radical approach to transparency and behavior modification is not without risk but it works because of a – few vital and overarching truths:

  1. There is a solid foundation of trust and a culture of humility and compassion among our team members
  2. Our employees are committed to growing as team members, leaders and people
  3. No one is off limits; it goes up and down the chain of command

One of our managers recently discovered a methodology called the Johari Window that articulated our approach in a very understandable and accessible way. Developed by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in the 1950s, the Johari Window is a tool for understanding and training on self-awareness, personal development, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, team development and intergroup relationships. We view it as especially relevant because of its emphasis on and influence of “soft” skills, behavior, empathy, and cooperation.

Here’s a VERY basis description of how the Johari Model operates. The “window” has four quadrants:

  1. The “open area,” representing what is known about a person by both him/herself and others.
  2. The “blind area,” representing what is unknown by a person about him/herself but IS known by others.
  3. The “hidden area,” which is what a person knows about him/herself that others do not know.
  4. The “unknown area,” which represents what is unknown by both a person and others.

As we begin the exploration of ourselves, the four quadrants are set at the same size. As the team develops and strengthens over time – learning a LOT about each other and exploring why people behave the way they do – the goal (well, one of several goals) is to increase the size of each person’s “open area” and decrease the size of their “blind area.”

This, we believe, will help people be the best version of themselves, and promote stronger teams. We subscribe to the theory that, when each member has a strong mutual understanding with others on the team, it is far more effective than a team that lacks that level of understanding. Another way to look at this is that the larger a person’s blind spot, the more damage they do to team dynamics.

Managers and leaders in our organization have an important role here in facilitating feedback and disclosure among group members, and in directly giving feedback to individuals about their own blind areas. They also have a big responsibility to be open to receiving feedback on their own blind spots and to promote a culture and expectation for open, honest, positive, helpful, constructive and sensitive communication throughout our company.

We’re excited about how using this model is going to strengthen our teams and grow our leaders. Stay tuned for updates as we move ahead!

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