Enneagram in the Workplace: Recognizing Yours and Your Employees' Types

It takes a lot of time, energy and resources to recruit and hire a new employee and if that employee doesn’t end up working out, it can cost you. It’s estimated that employee turnover can cost up to 30% of that employee’s salary. It’s no wonder that some employers choose to incorporate personality assessments or quizzes to determine how or if a candidate will fit in with the rest of the company.

According to SHRM, organizations that use personality assessments claim the results can help reduce turnover because they let companies know which employees will be able to handle the job long term or which ones are in over their heads.

The Enneagram of Personality Types

One assessment type that’s popular right now is the Enneagram. The Enneagram of Personality Types is based on ancient traditions and describes nine personality types found in every single one of us. According to Enneagram At Work, the system brings these types together and describes both the strengths and the challenges of each personality type. This type of assessment is being used by corporations for leadership development and team building to help co-workers understand each other’s motivations, needs, concerns and style of work. It can offer benefits for managers, HR personnel, consultants, trainers, facilitators, negotiators and mediators.

Here are the nine personality types as described by The Enneagram At Work.

The Perfectionist. Type Ones are principled, purposeful, self-controlled, responsible and all-around perfectionists. They are hard-working and set high standards for themselves and their co-workers. They want to do things the “right” way and expect their co-workers to follow suit. Their biggest challenge is finding a way to balance their critical thinking with acceptance and appreciation, and knowing when to put aside perfection for productivity.

The Giver. Type Two is generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing and positive. They’re great at communicating and will support your company’s best interests. They are empathetic and key in on how their co-workers feel and what they need. Two’s challenge is personal boundaries and figuring out how much they should help others.

The Performer. Type Three is driven, highly productive, enthusiastic and quick to move into action to get results. Type Threes strive to get things done. Their challenge is listening to others, building good relationships and developing strategies for the long term. Type Threes are also prone to burnout since they tend to be workaholics.

The Romantic. Type Four is passionate, expressive, dramatic but also self-absorbed and temperamental. They are focused on aesthetics and value excellence in all things. Type Fours want to make personal connections to their work and co-workers. Their biggest challenge is learning to tolerate their job when things get slow or boring, reducing their emotional reactions and not taking things too personally.

The Observer. Type Five is perceptive, innovative and a strategist but also secretive and isolated. They require development, especially technical expertise, and lots of privacy and autonomy. Type Five’s challenge is to be available to co-workers, communicate warmly and to recognize other kinds of assets besides intelligence.

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The Loyalist. Type Six is engaging, responsible but also anxious and suspicious. The Loyalist is focused on figuring out what’s going on around them to create safety and structure. Besides being loyal, they’re dependable and good at anticipating problems and finding solutions. Their challenge is manage their suspicions and doubts so it doesn’t affect their motivation or those around them.

The Epicure. Type Seven is spontaneous, quick thinking, adaptable and has a positive outlook but Type Sevens can also be scattered. They see opportunities when others see problems but they are all over the place enjoying multiple interests and options. The Epicure’s challenge is to actually acknowledge problems and limitations and corral their attention to the present and task at hand.

The Protector. Type Eight is self-confident, decisive, and confrontational and they excel at taking charge. Type Eights know how to mobilize to get things done. They are good leaders and stand up for things they care about, including their position and co-workers. Type Eight’s challenge is to tone down their forcefulness, be able to adapt to different situations and avoid creating unnecessary conflict.

The Mediator. Type Nine is receptive, reassuring but also somewhat resigned. They approach their work and relationships in a steady and balanced way. They are great mediators because they see all sides of an issue or conflict and can bring people together. Their challenge is to stay focused on priorities and stick up for themselves and their position, even if it causes discomfort or conflict.

These are just broad definitions of each of Enneagram’s personality types. Explanations go much deeper at The Narrative Enneagram, including how testing shows we’re a mixture of these types with some being more dominant than others. Using a personality test like this confirms everyone learns and interacts differently and there’s not a one-size-fits-all for professional development or even recruiting. But having tools, like the ATS and Performance Management solution offered by BirdDogHR, an Arcoro Company, gives managers and HR the upper hand for retaining valuable employees. Contact us to see how they can help you.