Build Understanding with Enneagram Types in the Workplace

Light blue background. Magenta accent circles. White Enneagram symbol. Insight Global logo. Title: What are Enneagram Types, and How Do They Function in the Workplace?

Diversity of thought is essential in the workplace. After all, if everyone has the same background, approach, and ideas, creativity and innovation can stagnate. But even knowing this, it’s not always easy to lead—or even communicate effectively—when working with different personalities.

One way to better manage your team is to find out more about diversity in the workplace. One way to have some fun with that is to learn more about different Enneagram types in the workplace.

Of course, people are complex. It’s important to remember that not everyone fits neatly into one Enneagram type. The conventional wisdom right now is that recruiting and management decisions should not be made based on personality testing. Instead, think of them as interesting (if not totally perfect) insights into how different staffers work or approach a project. Plus, individual personalities can evolve over time.

Still, understanding how some people think of Enneagram types in the workplace can help evolve communication and collaboration among team members.

Read on for an overview of the nine Enneagram types, plus how each one might function on a team.

RELATED: Interviewing and Managing MBTI Personality Types

What is the Enneagram?

Let’s start at the beginning. The Enneagram is a system for classifying human personality types based on someone’s core belief or motivation. They can be a part of building understanding in the workplace by:

  • Providing insights into how team members function
  • Allows each individual to contribute their strengths
  • Creates more productive teams
  • Fosters a healthier work environment

The Enneagram is different from other methods of personality assessments like MBTI. Both give results as a type, with the MBTI breaking results down into 16 types like ENFJ or ISTP. Enneagram has nine primary types, these types are influenced by up to two “wings” or subtypes, leading to 27 results. Let’s dig into that!

The 9 Enneagram types in the workplace

Here’s a quick overview of each of the nine Enneagram types and how they might function as part of a team. While these offer some basic, quick insights, the real benefits come over time as you understand how your team likes to be recognized and how your workplace culture influences everything they do.

Type 1: The Rationalist/Reformer

Type Ones can have high standards for themselves and others. They are seen as responsible and hard-working. They often care about doing things correctly.

On a team, Ones can bring discipline and integrity. On the positive side, they can add structure and pragmatism. When stressed, they can be critical.

Type 2: The Helper/Giver

Type Twos tend to be empathetic and positive. They also tend to be strong communicators who are people oriented.

Twos are typically supportive team members. Their interpersonal skills can help improve communication, and they can be highly collaborative. Under stress, they may focus on relationships over getting things done.

Type 3: The Pragmatist/Achiever

Type Threes are seen as productive and action oriented. They tend to be highly motivated and focused on producing results.

On a team, Threes can be adaptable and polished, inspiring their teammates to excellence. When out of balance, Threes might take too much of the project on themselves, struggling to collaborate or delegate.

Type 4: The Romantic/Individualist

Type Fours are often driven by authenticity, meaning, and creativity. They seem to thrive at work when they feel a personal connection to the project, task, company, or team.

Acutely aware of the “whys” behind a project or company, Fours may set and execute goals aligned with the bigger picture. They may struggle to participate fully when their creative abilities and sensitivities are stifled.

Type 5: The Observer/Investigator

Type Fives are seen as strategists who often like to understand and think things through. They can accumulate knowledge and may have technical expertise. They often thrive with autonomy.

On a team, Fives can bring expertise and strategic thinking. They can be a go-to for solutions to complex problems. Many Fives are highly intellectual, but for some, interpersonal skills may not be their strong suit.

Type 6: The Skeptic/Loyalist

Type Sixes may be motivated by safety and structure. They are seen as troubleshooters skilled at anticipating what might go wrong and developing solutions to avoid potential problems. They tend to be loyal and dependable.

Sixes may put hard work and long hours into a team project. They can be strong allies, and their dedication can inspire group cohesion. When stressed, they may doubt their team members’ commitment and test them.

Type 7: The Epicure/Enthusiast

Type Sevens see the glass half full. They are seen as adaptable, positive, and open to opportunities. They may have multiple interests and quick minds, so they could be great at brainstorming.

Sevens work hard—but they are thought of as making teamwork fun. They can bring team spirit while also being highly productive. However, if they become unfocused, they may struggle with project deadlines.

Type 8: The Protector/Challenger

Type Eights are seen as natural leaders. They often know how to take charge and get things done. They typically aren’t afraid to speak up to protect a person or project.

On a team, Eights bring authority, energy, and strength. They are seen as trailblazers who stay the course. When stressed or out of balance, they may push their team members too hard.

Type 9: The Mediator/Peacemaker

Types Nines are seen as skilled at bringing people together. They can naturally understand the different perspectives of people around them, which can lead them into a mediator role. Their approach to work and relationships is often balanced and steady.

On a team, Nines may seek out and cultivate consensus. They can be skilled at seeing the broader picture of the team’s goals. When stressed, they may become conflict-avoidant.

Check out our exclusive video series to understand what’s happening now in DE&I—and how doing it right can positively impact your company.

Build Your Dream Team

The Enneagram, like other personality testing, is an interesting instrument to get to know more about your team. It is not widely accepted as a tool to rely on when building your team. Instead, consider working with a hiring partner that gets to know candidates by carefully vetting them before you take time to interview them.

If you are looking to fill a key role on your staff, or you want to build your dream team from the ground up, contact us to hire someone today.