One of the great advantages of undergoing a 360 degree feedback evaluation is that it increases self-awareness. The feedback allows the individual to discover strengths, weaknesses and blind spots (behaviors and actions that they exhibit but are not aware of). Uncovering blind spots is key for continuous improvement and enables the employee to focus on developing skills in overlooked areas.
A useful technique for discovering blind spots is the Johari Window. Created in 1955 by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, the model is used to help individuals better understand themselves and how they are perceived by others. The window consists of four segments (or panes) of human interaction: open, hidden, blind and unknown. All of the elements together provide a comprehensive view of the individual. Using the Johari Window in a 360 degree feedback evaluation will enable the discovery of strengths, areas for improvement, blind spots and differences in perception.
Four panes of the Johari Window:
The first pane in the window is referred to as ‘open’ or ‘arena’. This quadrant represents the actions, behaviors and information that are known to the individual and those around them. This information is public and made available through communication and exchanges between the individual and others. This includes information, facts, skills and attitudes – anything that is public knowledge.
The second quadrant is referred to as ‘blind’ or ‘blind spot’. Information in this area is particularly useful in 360 reviews for personal and professional development. Actions and behaviors in the blind area are known to others, but the individual is not aware of them. The information in the blind spot can be positive or negative and include hidden strengths or areas for improvement. The blind spots that are discovered in a 360 evaluation give great insight into how others perceive the individual, which forms the starting point for development.
The third pane is referred to as ‘hidden’ or ‘facade’. This information is known to the individual, but not known to anyone else. This may consist of private information, which the individual chooses to keep hidden. Feelings, ambitions, dreams and opinions may be withheld from the group by the individual out of fear of negative reaction. Once the individual trusts others they may choose to reveal some of their hidden information.
The last window of information is referred to as simply ‘unknown’. This includes information, skills, behaviors, etc. that are unknown to the individual and to others. This includes subconscious information that no one is aware of such as early childhood memories, undiscovered talents, etc.