The Johari Window model
What are my strengths and weaknesses? Do I see myself as others see me?
The Johari window is the product of research from Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who in the 1950s, sought to help us visualise how we see ourselves, and how others see us. When used in tandem with Belbin it can help us to articulate our strengths and weaknesses better to those around us.
The Johari Window increases self-awareness, enhances interpersonal relationships and communication. It also improves team dynamics and can help to build high-performing teams.
The Johari Window: diagram
The four quadrants of the Johari Window
1 - Open area. Public information that is known to ourselves and others.
2 - Hidden area. Known to the individual but not to others. When we disclose personal information or elaborate on how we like to work, this is ‘self-disclosure’.
3 - Blind area. Known to others but not to ourselves. We can benefit greatly from feedback given by those around us in order to access this information.
4 - Unknown area. Information which is not yet available to ourselves or to others.
The appropriate use of the Johari methodology can help to build trust through self-disclosure and learning through feedback.
People who can work to their strengths outperform those who don’t. According to Belbin Team Role theory, there are nine Team Roles – nine distinct ways of contributing in a team and relating to others. Each person has a number of Team Role strengths – roles that come naturally to them. When we play to these strengths, we are more likely to be engaged and fulfilled in our work.
A Belbin Individual Report (generated after you complete the Belbin questionnaire) quickly identifies your key strengths in terms of these nine Team Roles and suggests working styles that may best suit you. It offers personalised advice and guidance on how to articulate these strengths to others.
Checking the blind spots
Belbin allows us to ask colleagues for feedback in a practical and non-threatening way. This of course sounds fine in theory, yet people are often afraid to seek feedback from workmates. Some far that 360 feedback might be tied to performance, or be polluted by office politics.
Even when this is not the case, asking for feedback takes some courage and can mean relinquishing a little control. We don’t know if others will be constructive. We may end up discovering things about ourselves or others’ perceptions that we don’t immediately like.
Psychological safety within a team is an important factor in providing an atmosphere suited to receiving authentic feedback, and in learning something from our discoveries. Likewise, it can be easier for colleagues to be honest if giving feedback in an evidence-based survey form, rather than in a face to face format. This gives people space and time for reflection.
Whilst many psychological tests analyse personality and rely on self-reporting, Belbin measures behaviour. Since behaviour is observable, others can complete an Observer Assessment to provide constructive feedback, framed in terms of Belbin Team Role contributions. We recommend that you choose Observers who have worked closely with you for at least six months, and preferably in the same team context.
Where do your Belbin Team Role strengths sit in the Johari Window?
Your Belbin Individual Report is updated to take feedback into account once you reach four or more Observers, and you can easily learn whether others are seeing your strengths as you do, or where differences may occur.
Where your understanding of your Team Roles aligns with others’, you’re working in the ‘open’ or ‘public’ quadrant. Where there are differences, these may fall into the blind spot or hidden areas of the Johari Window.
Observer feedback can of course throw up some surprises. We may not agree with everything that comes up, but it is important to address and learn from the findings, since they have an impact on how others in the team perceive us, especially where there is clear consensus between Observers.
Image: Comparing Self (SPI) and Observer (Obs) perceptions of Team Role strengths - taken from the Belbin Individual Report
Using Belbin and Johari Window - an example
Observers see higher Implementer behaviours than the individual themselves has declared. This could indicate a blind spot. The person in question has latent strengths which aren’t being used to full potential.
The individual sees more Shaper and Monitor Evaluator behaviours than their Observers do. This might indicate some hidden attributes that others in the team have not yet witnessed, because the person hasn’t had the opportunity to play those particular roles in their job. In this case, it’s useful to look at another page of the Belbin Individual Report, Maximising Your Potential.
This section of a Belbin report provides targeted advice on how best to promote strengths, and to increase the alignment between your own view and what others see.
Once you’ve identified any Team Roles that sit in the blind spot and hidden areas, you can begin to formulate a personal strategy, using examples from your work, to announce your strengths to others. This might mean that you are given more of the sorts of work you enjoy doing, increasing your engagement and honing those skills further.
Johari Window and Team Roles: what to do next
Complete your Belbin profile online (can be purchased from our shop HERE if you don't have your own Belbin Interplace system at work).
Download our Johari Window PDF Guide on how to use your profile and reports in tandem with the Johari Window.