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057 | Using the Johari Window to develop & grow in your HR career
Episode 5721st October 2022 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
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The Johari Window is a great tool to help you develop and grow in your HR career. In this episode of HR Coffee Time, career coach Fay Wallis talks you through how to use it to learn more about yourself and identify your hidden strengths and areas for development. It’s the first in a series of episodes focused on gaining feedback to enhance your career.

Key Points From This Episode

[03:53] An introduction to the Johari Window


[05:59] Fay encourages you to try using the Johari Window model during the episode, using her free template


[06:29] The bottom left quadrant – The ‘hidden/façade’ area


[09:42] Fay gives an example of something that had been in her ‘hidden area’ – anxiety. She refers back to episode 9 - Understanding & supporting mental health at work, with Danielle Bridge


[11:12] The top right quadrant – the ‘you don’t know but others do’ area


[14:18] Fay offers an example of something that would previously have been in her ‘you don’t know but others do’ area


[17:33] The importance of our feedback for identifying our strengths and developmental

areas


[19:03] Fay shares two simple questions to use when seeking feedback (as taught to her by Charlie Warshawski, who was a guest in episode 53)


[21:09] Another useful model for self-reflection and to use with teams is covered in episode 35 - Helping teams thrive with personal user manuals


[21:43] The final quadrant – the ‘unknown’ area



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If you're kind enough to leave a review, please do let Fay know so she can say thank you. You can always reach her at: fay@brightskycareercoaching.co.uk.


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Transcripts

Fay Wallis:

Welcome back to HR coffee time, a weekly podcast to help you have a successful and fulfilling HR career without backing yourself into the ground. If we haven't met before, hello, I'm your host Fay Wallis, career coach with a background in HR. And I'm also the founder of Bright Sky Career Coaching. If you have come across the podcast before, it's wonderful to have you back. And I hope that you've had a great week.

Fay Wallis:

If you do tune in every week, you may know that I managed to come down with COVID last week, so I'm feeling a lot better, but I'm still not 100%. So please forgive me if I sound a bit croaky or a bit bummed up in this week's episode. I'm also expecting that this week's episode is going to be a little bit shorter than normal. But let's see how we go. I'm forever trying to make the episodes a bit shorter to make them as easy as possible for you to listen to and not take up too much of your time. But it seems to be impossible for me to make them truly short. So we'll see how I get on.

Fay Wallis:

Now, I've spent absolutely ages thinking about this episode and making notes for it. I knew I wanted to focus on helping you with getting feedback, because I think that feedback is just so important. And it's so helpful for us all to develop and grow in our roles. But it's also something that can feel uncomfortable, and many people shy away from because they worry about what they might hear. And they might have so much of their identity wrapped up in their work, or they're trying so hard to do their best that they hate the idea that as a possibility they could be falling short anywhere. And this is something I could really relate to earlier on in my career, and particularly when I first became a coach.

Fay Wallis:

In fact, I think it's something that can often show up when any of us starts a new job, or we're promoted into a new role, or we have a career change, because at that point, we're a little bit vulnerable, we've moved out of our comfort zone into the learning zone. So it means that we're learning we're practising, and because of that, there is a possibility that we might slip up sometimes, which isn't always a comfortable feeling. But while planning for this episode, my notes just started spiralling out of control. If I showed you them, I've got pages and pages and pages, which made me realise that feedback is such a big topic.

Fay Wallis:

To do it justice, I need to break it down into a few episodes. Well, at least two, but I'm guessing this may end up being more. The same thing has happened to me in the past with the podcast. If you've been listening since the very beginning, you may remember that I created a mini series about networking. And more recently, I created a mini series about interviews. So I'm not completely sure whether this episode will be the start of several, or whether it's just going to be one of two, but it certainly won't just be this one.

Fay Wallis:

And while I was trying to wrestle my ideas into one episode, I decided to start off by talking to you about the Johari Window. It's a model that you may have come across before because it's quite a famous one. But I just think it's a brilliant way of helping us to open up to do some self reflection, and to get some feedback so that we can really take stock of where we are and start to develop and grow. And I've created a free templates of a Johari window for you, you can access it through a link in the show notes. If you've got any trouble accessing the link at all, just send me an email or message me on LinkedIn. And I'll be happy to send it over to you straight away.

Fay Wallis:

But now, I think that's enough of an intro for me, it's time to crack on with the main part of the show. The Johari Window was invented in 1955 by two psychologists. And that's actually where the name comes from. So the psychologists were called Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham, so they just squished the first parts of their first names together, Joseph and Harrington to meet the name Johari or Joe Harry, I think some people pronounce it as, so I quite like that good story behind where the name comes from.

Fay Wallis:

And if we have a think about a great big rectangular window, just imagine it as a pane of glass in front of you, that is split into four different quadrants. And the different quadrants represent different things. Each of the quadrants actually change size according to how much you know about yourself and how much other people know about you. But to start with, let's keep them all the same size while we're thinking about the activity. The top left hand quadrant is called the open area It's what people know about you and what you know about yourself. Sometimes it's also called the Public Self. And to help bring this to life, I'll give you a personal example.

Fay Wallis:

So if I think about the Johari Window, and me when it comes to this open area, that open quadrants, I know that I love reading. And if you've been listening to the podcast for a while, you'll probably know that too, because I often talk about reading and books on the show. I also know I'm a qualified coach, you and I both know this, because I talk about it every week. I'm also married, and I have children, there are things that I know and things that I shared with you before. So you know that. And hopefully, if you've been listening for a little while, or if you've ever met me from a personality perspective, you know that I'm friendly and open when you meet me, I'm not someone who shouts or loses their temper easily or is aggressive.

Fay Wallis:

If you want to have a go at using the Johari window, you can either print off the free download that I've created for you, you can find that in the show notes. Or otherwise, you can just simply draw a large rectangle on a piece of paper, or a large square, and split it into four sections. So why not have a go now and pause this episode to jot down a few things about yourself in the open area, things that you know about yourself, and that everyone else knows about you.

Fay Wallis:

Once you've written down some of the things that sit in the open area, let's move on to the next part of the Johari window. The bottom left quadrant is called the hidden area or the facade area, it's sometimes also called the Hidden Self. And this is where you have knowledge that you haven't shared with others. It's what you know, but that the people around you don't, it might be things that you're afraid of, or things that you just like to keep private. So ideas that you haven't finished fully fleshing out yet, and you're not ready to share.

Fay Wallis:

So for example, you may hate your job, but you don't want to share that with your colleagues yet, because that wouldn't be appropriate. And it's not going to be great for your career at this moment in time. Or it might be that you have an idea for projects, but you're not feeling quite brave enough yet to put yourself forward or put the idea forwards. Once you do decide to share this information, the quadrant shrinks in size, because the knowledge moves into the quadrants. Above that we were just talking about the open area. Let's say you decide you're going to leave your job. So you resign and then you tell everyone that you've been really unhappy and you didn't like your job anymore.

Fay Wallis:

Or let's say you got really brave and decided to put your idea forward for the project. Well, at that point, that knowledge moves away from the bottom left hand quadrant and moves up into the open area into the open quadrants, because it becomes knowledge that you know, and that the other people around, you know, as well. So hopefully this can help you see that the size of the quadrants change constantly. They shrink and grow depending on what you reveal and learn about yourself.

Fay Wallis:

And also, of course, your Johari Window is going to be different at work to how it is at home. So the people you're working with every day will know certain things about you that people at home don't necessarily know and vice versa. And you'll share certain things and certain qualities that will become obvious at home that you may not do at work.

Fay Wallis:

And again, it's the same in reverse. So it's vice versa. Again, using myself as an example here, things that have moved from the facade or hidden area into the open area for me have been things like this year creating my group coaching programme inspiring HR. I thought about it for months and months before I shared the idea with anyone because it just didn't feel fully formed enough yet. And then initially, I started discussing it with a few people.

Fay Wallis:

So a handful of people who I really trust their opinion and felt I could talk to them about the idea to try and bounce it around with them and really clarify my thinking, until eventually I got to the point where I was ready to share it with everyone. So now you know about it. It's on the website. It's running for the second time. We start again next week. I'm really excited about cracking on with this scan, and really relieved I've had COVID this week or not next week when we get started.

Fay Wallis:

Another thing that I've had in this facade or hidden area before was the fact that I've had quite bad anxiety before. I did talk about it openly in episode nine of the podcast which was called understanding and supporting mental health at work with my guest, the wonderful Danielle Bridge. I found it hard to talk about then because it's not something I've talked about publicly before. But I felt like I was in a safe pair of hands with Danielle, and I thought it was probably important to share it as well.

Fay Wallis:

So I felt nervous about that, even though the worst of the anxiety is thankfully long behind me now. But it was at that point of talking about it, that it tipped from being in the hidden area for me into the open area. Of course, other people did know about it beforehand, but they were mainly my family and my really close friends that I'd ever shared, shared it with before. And if you're filling in your Johari Window, at the same time as listening to this podcast, why don't you pause the recording? And then just jot some thoughts into your head and area quadrants.

Fay Wallis:

What do you know that you aren't sharing with others yet? Is it fine to be leaving them in that Hidden Self quadrants, or actually are there some things that it would really benefit your career to start mentioning them or to make other people in your team aware of them.

Fay Wallis:

Then moving on to the next pane. The next area in the Johari Window is the top right hand quadrants. This is traditionally called the blind spots. But I realised as I was planning for this episode, that I'm not very comfortable with using that phrase anymore. I've been thinking a lot about language recently, and the impact that it can have. You'll be meeting one of my podcast guests soon because I recorded the episode with them a little while ago, it just hasn't been edited or released yet.

Fay Wallis:

The guest is called Nemo D'Qrill, they really got me thinking about how we use language and some of the implicit bias that's within it. So preparing for this episode has ended up sending me down a bit of a rabbit hole of research about ableist language, which is defined as being any word or phrase that devalues people who have a disability. And if this is something that you're interested in learning about too, I will put a link in the show notes to an article that I found was really helpful. It's written by someone called Lydia X Z Brown.

Fay Wallis:

Apart from doing just a little bit of research around this, I'm very much in the early stages of wrapping my head around all of this, and I'm trying to make sure that I'm using appropriate language, I'm sure that I will slip up still sometimes, but I'm trying. And it means that I'm going to change the name of this conference. So I'm not going to call it the blind spots. I don't have a very snappy name for it. Instead, I'm just going to call it 'you don't know, but others do'. If you can come up with a better name, please do let me know I would love to hear your ideas.

Fay Wallis:

And the information inside this quadrant can be both positive or negative. And when I say negative, I guess I feel happier again, using the word developmental. It's information that you're not aware of, but that everyone around you or that some people around you are aware of. It's often things that we just haven't realised about ourselves. But they're really obvious to those that we work alongside. And you'll definitely have experienced this on the flip side. So you will have met someone and thought, Oh, my goodness, I can't believe how disorganised they are. But they think they're a really organised person.

Fay Wallis:

Or you may have worked alongside someone and just thought, oh, my gosh, I cannot believe what a temper they have. Everyone's terrified of them. But when you talk to them about it, they just think, what are you talking about, I just blow off a bit of steam. Sometimes that's not having a bad temper. It's not a big deal, no one minds, and they just don't realise the impact that their temper is having on the people around them. So that is the kind of thing that operates within this quadrant, the quadrant of you don't know, but others do.

Fay Wallis:

And giving a personal example, again, an example of something that would have gone into this quadrant for me many years ago. Well, it was more than 20 years ago, which I can't believe oh my gosh, where's the time going? It's when I stopped working as a teacher. And I took on an HR and office manager role at an executive search firm. And while I was there, I had to deliver some training. And one of my friends who I worked with at the time and who I was delivering the training to said to me, Fay, why are you suddenly talking to us all like we're five years old while you're showing us how to do this.

Fay Wallis:

And I was really really taken aback and a bit offended. I thought, I'm not treating anyone like they're five years old. I'm just training them on how to do this and making sure I'm patient and clear and not moving along too quickly. But clearly, I just had no idea that that's how I was coming across, even though I had the best of intentions. And it really was when someone else agreed with her, and very nicely said to me, yes, that is actually exactly how you're coming across Fay. Why are you doing that?

Fay Wallis:

But I had to accept, it's something I couldn't see in myself at that moment. But that I needed to adjust my style. If I wanted to do a good job. I didn't want everyone at work walking around thinking I was really patronising. So clearly, looking back on it, I think what had happened was that I was so used to teaching children, I hadn't adjusted my approach enough for the adults that I was working with. And I'm really grateful that although it stung a little bit at the time, and I felt initially like oh, that completely wrong, I'm really grateful that I got given that feedback, because it definitely helped me improve in my role.

Fay Wallis:

And it meant that from receiving that feedback, I was able to shrink down that particular quadrants. Because that information then moved into the open area, where everyone around me knew I had been treating everyone as if they were five, when training and making things way too simplistic in the training. And I now knew it as well and was able to adjust my approach. So I didn't behave or train like that anymore. But this coaching isn't just an area for finding out about things you can improve on, you can also discover strengths and qualities about yourself that you haven't realised.

Fay Wallis:

So although you might feel a bit nervous or very nervous about digging into that area, and asking for feedback and figuring out what are these things that the people around you know that you don't know, it can also be really wonderful, because you can also receive very positive feedback about things you just haven't realised you've been doing really well, or qualities that you hadn't fully appreciated. How well respected or admired there are around other people. I know I've mentioned on the podcast before about strength, so forgive me for talking about them again. But I think they're really important, and really helpful to know about.

Fay Wallis:

So our strengths are the skills that we use, that we are really highly developed in, they come to us so naturally that we often don't realise we have them. And what happens is that people will say, Oh, my gosh, I can't believe you did that that was brilliant. Well done, or how did you do that, or you handled that so well. But because they come to you so easily, you don't realise they're hard for other people. See, you just dismiss what they're saying. Because to you, it's so obvious. So just like you might dismiss some of the negative feedback where you think, well, they're wrong, you may dismiss some of this positive feedback as well. So it means that you don't fully acknowledge you've got that particular strength.

Fay Wallis:

But by delving into this quadrant of your Johari Window, it's much more likely, if you're getting the same feedback from people that you're actually going to take that positive feedback on board, and accept that you have got these strengths. And you may not be fully realising them, you may be able to lean into them even more, it really gives you that opportunity to embrace them and do great work through utilising them going forwards. In many ways, it means that this particular quadrant in your Johari Window is the most powerful one. It's the quadrant where you're getting feedback from others.

Fay Wallis:

And I know I said I was going to try and keep this episode short. But there is one tip that I will give you to help you get some meaningful feedback so that you can tap into this quadrant. My plan ultimately is to help you look at how you get good quality feedback in a lot more detail in my next solo episode. But I'm just going to share this one tip with you that I was taught by Charlie Warshawski, when he trained me to be an executive coach. You may remember meeting Charlie back in episode 53.

Fay Wallis:

So on the coach training, he taught us to ask for feedback with two simple questions. What went well, and what would have made it even better? So actually, if you're getting written feedback, you just write down what went well. And then in the next bit you write even better if dot dot dot, and I found that a relatively gentle so if you're scared of getting feedback, this is quite a nice gentle preach to it a gentle way of getting some very helpful and very powerful feedback. If you're using your Johari Window live while you're listening to this episode, that is the one quadrant, you're not going to be able to fill in straight away. So I'd really encourage you to go out and seek some feedback, so you can start filling it in.

Fay Wallis:

And you may have already realised, as I've been talking to you about this, how helpful at all, this can be used to have a discussion as a team. So if you work as part of a wider team, it can be a nice tool to use all together. And to talk to each other about the different quadrants for each of you. Of course, you just have to be very sensitive and careful about setting it up. In case there is anyone who finds feedback, particularly tricky to handle. So you may want to have a facilitator in the room. But if you are a good fairly close knit team anyway, there's a lot of trust there, you may find that you're absolutely fine using this on your own with everybody.

Fay Wallis:

And if you're thinking, oh, that sounds a good idea for me, have you got any other kinds of models that I could use as part of a team? I have. There is a previous episode on the podcast when I talked about using personal user manuals, I absolutely love personal user manuals that are another great way of getting some fantastic insights about yourself. And actually, I think they would feed really well into this activity. So you may want to hop back to that episode, I'll link to in the show notes once you finish listening to this one.

Fay Wallis:

But I better tell you about the fourth and final quadrant. The fourth and final quadrant in the bottom right hand corner is called the unknown. This is information that you don't know, and no one else knows either. And that's normally because it's all to do with things you haven't had an opportunity to experience or learn yet. So for example, if you haven't been a manager before, you might have an idea of what your management style will be. But you don't know until you're actually in that role. So you may think, Well, this sounds like a kind of useless quadrant Fay.

Fay Wallis:

But actually, if you go back to your Johari window over time, so maybe you want to look at it twice a year, once a year, quarterly, whatever you feel like, you'll be able to see things moving around. And you'll realise when things emerge from that quadrant, and move into the open area or the hidden area, which I think is quite an exciting thing. Because it really shows us that there is just this constant opportunity for us to develop and grow and experience new things. And isn't that just wonderful, that we're not these perfect finished objects, and we never will be, and that there's so much out there that we can learn and really embrace going forward. I think it's a really nice positive thing personally.

Fay Wallis:

But that brings me to the end of running through the Johari Window model with you. There's a great saying that I only discovered, I think, a year and a half or two years ago, which is all models are wrong, but some are useful. So with any models that I share with you on the podcast, please do feel free to hold them lightly, or just completely discard them if they don't feel like they're going to be a value for you. I remember when I did my masters in HR really thinking, I just need to find out what the perfect way of doing everything is and then everything will be okay.

Fay Wallis:

Then I will do really well in the Masters I'll do really well in my career. But it was really being on there and doing the study that made me realise there is no one perfect way. We've all got different things that work differently for all of us. So if this is a helpful model for you, I'm so pleased if you want to adapt it in some way. That's wonderful too. If you just want to have a think about it, that's great. Or if it doesn't work for you, that's fine too. There'll be something else that you can find that is going to be really helpful.

Fay Wallis:

That brings us to the end of today's episode, I managed to talk for way longer than I expected to I thought that was going to be about eight to 10 minutes than I've realised with nearly coming up to 25 minutes. But I hope that you've enjoyed it. Whether you've never heard of the Johari window before, or this has been an opportunity to revisit it. I hope that it's been helpful to listen to it. And if you have enjoyed the episode and you've been listening to HR Coffee Time for a little while, please can I ask you a favour? It would be wonderful if you're here Pay to rate and review the show for me on Apple podcasts or Spotify, because ratings and review really help to encourage the big podcasting platforms to show the podcast to other people who might not have come across it before.

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