Johari Window

It is not uncommon for us to hear statements from people like they are never understood by others; they are perceived as having a certain kind of personality which actually is not their true self etc. And surely enough, many of us might have used those statements ourselves too. The workplace is no different where similar sentiments might be echoed by a large segment of employees. It might be under or over estimating their strengths and competencies or their negative areas. Now, how does one understand and asses strength and development areas appropriately about their own self or of the employees in case of a workplace? Joseph Lutt and Harri Ingham developed a model in 1955 in the United States to address this issue which is known as Johari window. One can clearly see that the name of the technique is derived using the first two letters of the names of both the psychologists.

It has a simple process where the participant of the exercise is given a list of 56 adjectives and he/she is asked to choose 5-6 of them which best describes their personality. On the other hand, peers of the participant are given the same list and each of them are asked to choose 5-6 adjectives which best describe the participant, all these are then mapped into a grid. Let us have a look at what does the standard model looks like:

Johari Window

The colors of the quadrant are irrelevant, just used to differentiate however the fact to note is the description of the quadrants. The following combination and simple examples would help you understand it better:

  • Quadrant 1 or the Open/Free area is known to your own self as well as known to the others, hence the name open or free area like your profile information on a social networking site
  • Quadrant 2 or Blind Area is known to others but not known to oneself, hence it is a blind spot for an individual like a stain on the backside of your shirt
  • Quadrant 3 or Hidden areas is known to self but not known to the others for example a birthmark on your body
  • Quadrant 4 or Unknown Area is neither known to the self nor known by the others like a sudden dislike for a dish that you earlier enjoyed

Information can certainly be passed from one quadrant to another and more the information is shared the larger becomes the 1st quadrant which is free/open area. The necessary condition for sharing of information becomes trust, mutual respect and concern. Johari window has several usages in the organizational setting. Knowing the open/free area of every team member increases mutual cooperation. The feedback provided to someone brings information which is in the 2nd quadrant or blind area to open area which helps in improvement and learning. Talking about the 3rd quadrant or the hidden area, there may be certain personal aspirations and motivations or priorities of a team member which the team or the leader are unaware of, such a situation causes inadequate contribution or misdirected efforts of that member. Encouraging sharing and learning about others is a way to bring the information into the open/free area. The last quadrant or the unknown area is an area of opportunities or latent talent or potential. An employee may have certain capability within himself which might not have been explored by the employee or the organization due to lack of suitable opportunity, confidence or training. For example the production manager of the plant may be very good at handling the trade union representatives but neither he nor the organization knew it until he was forced to join a trade union meeting to explain certain production related aspects.

Johari window is an effective technique which when used appropriately provides valuable information regarding one’s own self and others, which is an important characteristic which every leader needs to possess to succeed.

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