Johari Window and Transactional Analysis applied to the supervisor/subordinate relationship
In the Johari Window framework, the blind area denotes a quadrant associated with information that is not known to self but is known to other people who interact with you daily, either in work- or personal-related settings (Midwinter & Dickson, 2015; Patchin, 2014). In the leadership context, this quadrant represents a continuum between what leaders do not know about their personality and/or behavior and what is known to employees about the leaders’ behavior and/or personality (Griffin & Moorhead, 2015).
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In a previous supervisor/subordinate relationship involving performance evaluation, the manager was not aware of the fact that he was tremendously task-oriented and bad at listening to my complaints as the employee. Through the established supervisor/subordinate relationship, I came to know and perceive the manager as a hard taskmaster who never cared to listen to my complaints however valid they were.
This perception made me dislike the manager since his task-oriented attitude and perceived ignorance of employee issues generated an unpleasant atmosphere in the organization. On a personal level, some of my potential blind spots include disliking people perceived as arrogant, having some kind of neurotic perfectionism that often results in unproductive work patterns, and experiencing spasms of emotional parsimony that make me an objectionable and egocentric individual.
Hidden spots in the Johari Window model represent scenarios or situations in which the self knows information that is unknown to other people in personal- or work-related settings. The components included in the hidden quadrant are so private that individuals do not want to share them with others during the communication process (Griffin & Moorhead, 2015; Patchin, 2014). For example, on a personal level, I felt quite unsupported in my work situation but I did not want to share this feeling with the supervisor for fear of retribution.
Additionally, I always felt the urge to protect myself from being criticized by the supervisor through the use of unconventional means such as passing the blame to other employees. I did suspect that my supervisor had some hidden spots as he did not want to discuss his previous work experiences and family life in situations or contexts that required him to act as a role model.
Improving the Relationship Using the Johari Window Analysis
The supervisor/subordinate relationship described in the previous sections could be improved by focusing on reducing the blind area to the bare minimum through interacting with other people more intimately, asking questions about self, developing safety and trust in the relationship to ensure that other people can provide feedback more freely, and sharing your secrets and priorities with the other employees or the team (Griffin & Moorhead, 2015; Patchin, 2014).
Since the preoccupation should be nested on moving away from the blind and hidden spots towards more open or public spots, it is important for the supervisor to not only develop the courage to ask employees what they feel about him but also to intentionally create the right space or environment for the conversation to occur (Patchin, 2014). It is also important to ensure that people know what is on your mind with the view to providing them with the opportunity to help or provide feedback more constructively.
Lastly, the relationship could be improved through developing positive attitudes toward each other, demonstrating empathy by identifying and attempting to fulfill the needs of each other, and improving the concept of self-image with the view to addressing various distortions that arise from the communication process (Midwinter & Dickson, 2015).
Specific Examples Based on the Transactional Analysis
The transactional analysis helps us to examine the way we think, act, behave and communicate through the use of three ego modes, namely the parent mode (aimed at regulating and nurturing behavior through prescriptions, sanctions, and support), the child mode (aimed at demonstrating adaptation, reactivity, and creativity), and the adult mode (focuses on addressing the real issues, not the person) (McKay, Davis, & Fanning, 2009; Puckridge, 2009).
In providing examples, there was a time when my supervisor called me in the office and appeared to provide free advice on how I should dress when coming to work even though I had not contravened the set policy on the dressing. In this conversation, the supervisor acted as a parent by attempting to regulate my dressing behavior. Additionally, there was a time when I went to the supervisor to complain about the heavy workload even though all job roles were being distributed equitably to all employees in my unit. In this conversation, I acted like a child by showing that I was sulking under the perceived heavy workload and needed help to successfully adapt to the challenging work environment.
Lastly, there was a time when my supervisor requested a meeting with me and proceeded to request for clarification about a project that had been completed using complex statistical software. In the arising conversation, the supervisor acted like an adult as he was interested in addressing the problem of not understanding some components of the report due to the complex statistical techniques used, rather than the person who completed the project. I explained the statistical issues to him from the standpoint of an adult by providing examples that made him understand how the calculations had been done, hence successfully solving the problem as opposed to blaming the employee who had completed the project.
Improving the Relationship Using the Transactional Analysis
The supervisor/subordinate relationship could have been improved by using the adult-to-adult ego state to communicate due to its capacity to focus on the real issues, rather than the person (Puckridge, 2009). Research is consistent that the adult-to-adult transaction is by far the best way to communicate in work-related settings since it provides the means to interact and solve problems by examining the conditions of the outside world and making predictions about probable outcomes (McKay et al., 2009).
It is also clear that the relationship could have been improved by using the adult-to-adult ego state of the transactional model to ensure that the stimulus and response during the communication process were grounded on rational behavior and logical thought. Here, it is important to underscore the need for people in management positions to reason with their employees, seek from subordinates, and provide information during the communication process with the view to eliminating opportunities for conflict to occur during the conversation (Kong, Dirks, & Ferrin, 2014).
Lastly, the relationship could have been improved by entering into a complementary transaction that was not only respectful but also provided equal opportunities between the supervisor and the employee, hence stimulating likeability and freeing the communication process of any type of conflict (Midwinter & Dickson, 2015).
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The Johari Window and Transactional Analysis Applied by a Leadership Development Coach
Late Employee Scenario
Using the transactional model as the frame of analysis, it is evident that the supervisor is essentially playing the role of a parent based on his incorporation of attitudes and behaviors that are normally used by parental figures to nurture or criticize their children. The demonstration that the supervisor is angry with the employee for routinely being late for work is outwardly expressed through criticism behavior, meaning that the supervisor finds fault in the employee’s lateness behavior and openly disapproves it as a parent would to a child (Barrow, 2015; Puckridge, 2009).
The employee, on the other hand, is playing the role of a child by spontaneously and impulsively responding to the criticism leveled against him by the supervisor using a self-centered prism that seems to suggest that other employees are also late for work yet they do not receive any censure from the supervisor. It is clear from the case scenario that the employee’s choice of words demonstrates a “why me” predisposition, while his voice shows defiance and protest. These are characteristics of a child ego state in the transactional analysis (McKay et al., 2009; Midwinter & Dickson, 2015).
Employee Performance Review Scenario
Using the transactional model as the frame of analysis, it is clear that the supervisor and the employee are both playing the role of an adult. This analysis is based on the fact that both of them are interested in addressing the problem of employee performance rationally and equitably, rather than focusing on personal employee-related issues that may be hindering his performance. According to Puckridge (2009), the adult-to-adult ego state provides individuals in a communication process with the capacity to focus on real issues rather than the person.
Here, it is evident that the supervisor is focusing on the real issue of performance by pointing out several areas where the employee has performed well and where performance needs to be improved, while the employee is also focusing on the real issue by requesting the supervisor to provide suggestions on how he could improve his performance. Using this communication phrases, it becomes clear how the supervisor’s stimulus and the employee’s response are all grounded on rational behavior and logical thought (McKay et al., 2009; Midwinter & Dickson, 2015).
Supervisors’ and Subordinates’ Blind Spots Scenario
After sharing the reported blind spots with supervisors and subordinates, the leadership development coach could have proceeded to encourage the parties involved to increase interactions with each other so that they can provide feedback more openly (Patchin, 2014). Additionally, the coach could have laid the groundwork needed to ensure that the parties involved cannot only develop positive attitudes toward each other but also to show empathy by having an adequate understanding of how to identify and fulfill each other’s needs and expectations. Furthermore, the coach could have trained the parties involved on how to improve their concept of self-image to address the various distortions emanating from the communication process and the realization of each other’s blind spots (Midwinter & Dickson, 2015).
Finally, it could have been prudent for the coach to encourage open forums between employees and supervisors with the view to ensuring that they interact more intimately and ask questions about the self. This way, the coach could have succeeded in improving communication between supervisors and subordinates.
Barrow, G. (2015). Transactional analysis in the classroom, staffroom and beyond. Pastoral Care in Education, 33(3), 169-179. Web.
Griffin, R.W., & Moorhead, G. (2015). Organizational behavior (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Kong, D.T., Dirks, K.T., & Ferrin, D.L. (2014). Interpersonal trust within negotiations: Meta-analytic evidence, critical contingencies, and directions for future research. Academy of Management Journal, 57(5), 1235-1255. Web.
McKay, M., Davis, M., & Fanning, P. (2009). Messages: The communication skills book (3rd ed.). Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
Midwinter, R., & Dickson, J. (2015). Embedding counseling and communication skills: A relational skills model. New York, NY: Routledge.
Patchin, S. (2014). Leadership and the Johari Window – Part 1. Web.
Puckridge, P. (2009). Transactional analysis in action. Web.