Just another personality test? Or powerful workplace tool?
You may have heard of the Enneagram / inneagram / enna gram – how do you spell it? While it may sound like the latest in a string of personality test fads, let me assure you this unique personality assessment — which some claim has ancient origins — is on a different level than the quizzes you see on Buzzfeed (“Which potato are you?” Anyone?). Simply put, the Enneagram divides the world into nine numbers (personality types), each with a unique set of strengths and blind spots. My favorite quote that I’ve seen to describe it is that the Enneagram is “9 ways of seeing.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the tool, this may seem to be an over simplistic approach to represent all the diversity and personalities we have in the world. But while other tests, like the Myers Briggs, can be incredibly helpful, and assign a type as well, the Enneagram is unique in the ways it allows for growth and variation even within the types. Of course, we are more than our number, but a number is a good place to start when it comes to understanding our co-workers — and ourselves. And not only understanding the folks we spend 40+ hours a week with but truly knowing them in a way that makes the team stronger and better.
Taking the Enneagram test is actually part of our new hire onboarding process here at FUEL. I was already familiar with it when I arrived so I was excited to re-take the test and find out I’m still a 2 (haha). After completing the test, I was provided a star chart with the name of all my co-workers plotted out. I then knew there were at least three other 2s among us; I was in good company. As a 2, my tendency and drive is to want to help and give to others, sometimes at my own expense.
As much as the Enneagram is a huge tool for relationships, it also provides us with the self awareness and centering that is necessary for a personal paradigm shift — a shift out of our current set of assumptions and way of seeing ourselves, our relationships, and the world around us. It empowers us to make new and more successful choices, more intelligent decisions. And most importantly, in the workplace, it also enables us to tap greater resources within ourselves and others.
I first described the Enneagram as nine ways of seeing, so after that personal paradigm shift — which I should caveat is a lifelong journey — what it provides us is a window into how numbers other than our own see the world. From my own experience, I’ve found that workplace squabbles almost always stem from miscommunication. And as unique people, we all communicate differently!
With a relatively small team at FUEL, and the extremely fast pace of our work, it’s even more critical that we all jibe. Although it’s unrealistic to expect flawless communication all the time, the Enneagram provides us a tool to better understand each other and make strides towards that goal.
Moreover, in today’s day and age, technology is somewhat unanimous. What really makes an agency stand out is its people. At FUEL, we know we’re not a ‘sea of same.’ And that’s a very good thing.
One of our 9’s and Web Developer, Taylor, exhibits her 9-ness when she comes to the table with solutions that her deep thought has allowed her to unlock even when no one else can figure out a problem.
Our token 7 and Senior Graphic Designer, Roxy, enthusiastically brings new ideas to the table — for both our clients and our internal teams. She can rally anyone — a real Queen of Culture.
Our ‘Challenger’ 8 and Senior Strategist, Ally, is not afraid to push the envelope — which can be a very good thing for our clients and help our teams break out of conventional molds.
How to apply
It’s important to note that each number has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Knowing the numbers allows us to recognize those by understanding key motivation for our co-workers, establish empathy, avoid unnecessary disputes, and foster a culture of cooperation and teamwork.
“We have enjoyed adding the Enneagram into our process. It’s been extremely insightful for each of us individually and a true difference maker in how we understand one another. Knowing our Enneagrams and those of our coworkers has enabled us to strengthen rapport, improve communication, and support the professional development of our team.
Bringing it home
The Enneagram is only one tool of many in the realm of personality tests and workplace development. And each has something to offer our teams. But what the Enneagram provides is a very individualized path forward based on our particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Knowing more about yourself translates to better relationships with others. Not to mention having a “cheat sheet” to your co-workers’ core motivations, fears, and aspirations.
There is no perfect workplace and developing culture is ongoing work. But I think the Enneagram offers a unique tool to better ourselves both personally and professionally, and unlock the amazing potential we all bring to the table.
If you’re interested in learning more, we’ve compiled a few resources to help you start your own Enneagram journey:
Take the test at – https://tests.enneagraminstitute.com/
Or free version at – https://www.eclecticenergies.com/enneagram/test
Dive deeper into each type with this best-selling book – https://www.amazon.com/Road-Back-You-Enneagram-Self-Discovery/dp/0830846190/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=road+back+to+you&qid=1603112938&sr=8-1
Or this podcast by the same author – https://www.theenneagramjourney.org/podcast