Perform a quick search for “Enneagram compatibility” and you’ll find hundreds of articles about romantic relationships. But the Enneagram test can also teach us about workplace relationships.
While personality tests have drawn their fair share of criticism, they can help us understand our own tendencies and how best to collaborate with others.
They are especially useful as part of the recruitment process, where they can give interviewers a fuller picture of the candidate and help guide interview questions.
In this article, we’ll cover the specific benefits of the Enneagram test in the workplace and how best to collaborate with each of the nine Enneagram personality types.
- What is the Enneagram test?
- How to use the Enneagram in the workplace
- How to collaborate with each Enneagram type at work
- Type 1 - The Perfectionist
- Type 2 - The Giver/Helper
- Type 3 - The Performer
- Type 4 - The Romantic
- Type 5 - The Observer
- Type 6 - The Loyal Skeptic
- Type 7 - The Epicure
- Type 8 - The Protector
- Type 9 - The Mediator
- Make the Enneagram part of your recruiting process
What is the Enneagram test?
The Enneagram, also known as the Enneagram of Personality, is a personality model developed by Oscar Ichazo in the 1950s. It was later expanded upon and popularized in the United States in the 1970s by Chilean-born psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo.
The Enneagram posits that the human psyche is made up of nine interconnected personality types. These personality types are visually represented as interconnected points on a nine-pointed diagram known as an enneagram.
The Enneagram test is a personality test that shows the test taker which of the nine personality types fits them best. The test taker must choose between a series of two statements, picking the option that most applies to them.
For example, they may be asked:
“Describe yourself as you generally are now, not as you wish to be in the future. Describe yourself as honestly see yourself, in relation to other people you know of the same gender as you are, and roughly your same age.
SELECT ONLY ONE
- I rarely display signs of affections.
- I am not afraid to display signs of affection.
Of course, there are no right or wrong answers. But the test taker’s answers can provide insights into their approach to personality relationships and their work style in a professional environment.
As a result, the test has become a popular workplace assessment tool.
How to use the Enneagram in the workplace
Like many personality tests, the Enneagram is pseudoscientific in that there’s a lack of definitive research to prove its accuracy or effectiveness at driving real personal development.
However, knowing your own Enneagram personality type or that of a coworker or job candidate can help you predict and prevent personality compatibility issues before they arise.
Improve communication and empathy
The Enneagram test results provide tips on how to best communicate and collaborate with others, depending on your personality type. Therefore, the Enneagram can be a powerful tool for teams to improve interpersonal communication.
Knowing another team member’s personality type can also help grow empathy, as it’s easier to understand their perspective when you know their typical approach to problems.
For example, Type Nines are often willing to go with the flow, and may keep their opinions to themselves. Knowing that a team member was a Type Nine may hint to a leader or team member that they may need to push harder to get an honest opinion.
As a result, the Enneagram test is commonly used to improve team dynamics.
Guide professional development
The Enneagram test also discusses the best attributes of each personality type and identifies the most likely challenges and development opportunities.
This is invaluable information for a hiring manager, as they can predict which certain team members will be best suited for different challenges or who may need extra support in certain areas.
For example, Type Sevens are optimistic, versatile, and spontaneous. While this makes them a valuable individual contributor to a team, they can also become over-extended or scattered.
Knowing this about themselves, the employee could set a professional development path that leans into their strengths, improves on their weaknesses, and keys in on motivators that can help guide career goals.
Help the interview process
While the Enneagram test should not be used to make final hiring decisions, the test results are one extra piece of information that can help a hiring manager choose the right candidate.
You wouldn’t want to exclude a candidate because of worries about Enneagram compatibility. However, knowing a candidate’s personality type can give the hiring manager a sense of how a candidate may fit in best on a team.
The TestGorilla Enneagram test results page also provides job interviewers with suggested questions that they can ask to candidates of each personality type. Knowing the candidate’s type can guide the conversation with more pointed questions that really get to their most likely strengths and weaknesses—information you wouldn’t have from their application alone.
How to collaborate with each Enneagram type at work
Any Enneagram personality type can have a healthy working relationship with any other as long as each side is dedicated to collaboration. In terms of Enneagram compatibility, no particular pairing is destined for success or doomed to failure.
However, understanding each of the nine types and working styles can help predict and mitigate potential conflicts that may arise between any two personality types.
Below is an infographic that contains a brief overview of each Enneagram personality type and how to best collaborate with a team member of that type. Following the graphic is a more detailed look at each type.
Type 1 - The Perfectionist
Type Ones are hard working, thorough, and responsible workers. They are idealistic and prioritize doing things the “right way”, which can come at the expense of productivity.
Their biggest challenge is accepting when something is “good enough”, which can lead them to be critical of coworkers who aren’t working up to their standards.
To collaborate well with Type Ones in the workplace:
Do: Take your work seriously; respect their honesty; admit your mistakes; stand up for yourself.
Don’t: Miss deadlines; make promises that can’t keep; ignore predefined procedures.
To help them grow: Encourage them to be less critical of themselves and others; invite them to share responsibility; teach them to accept what can’t be changed.
Type 2 - The Giver/Helper
Type Twos are caring, positive, and empathetic. Their greatest strength is making personal connections and lifting up others.
They are emotional sponges that soak up the positive or negative energy of those around them. Because they always put others first, they can struggle to understand or prioritize their own needs.
To work effectively with Type Twos:
Do: Show appreciation when possible; value their partnership; check in with their needs.
Don’t: Be overly critical; hurt their feelings; take advantage of their help.
To help them grow: Encourage them to prioritize their own needs; encourage them to set boundaries and take personal time.
Type 3 - The Performer
Type Threes are enthusiastic, highly motivated, and productive. They channel their energy into getting their work done, being efficient, and accomplishing their goals.
Their challenge is to see the big picture. Their love of recognition and external positive reinforcement can lead them to lose sight of what they value as an individual.
To work well with Type Threes:
Do: Value their work; provide deserved recognition; encourage them to slow down; teach them to value relationships.
Don’t: Waste their time; allow them to burn out.
To help them grow: Show them that they have value as an individual and not just as a productive employee.
Type 4 - The Romantic
Type Fours are emotional idealists who value creativity, authenticity, and aesthetics. They are motivated by the meaning of their work and the people around them.
Fours’ emotional sensitivity and individualism can lead them to take criticism too personally. They may also not respond positively to procedural, administrative parts of work.
To collaborate with Fours:
Do: Value their individuality; appreciate their creativity; take their emotional outbursts personally.
Don’t: Dismiss their emotions; insist on conformity; allow them to withdraw.
To help them grow: Give them a safe space to express their emotions, but encourage them to stay balanced. Help them see the impact their actions have on others.
Type 5 - The Observer
Type Fives are intellectuals who value knowledge and technical expertise. They are self-reliant, perceptive, and analytical. They are thoughtful decision makers that value their privacy and autonomy.
Fives can be challenged with interpersonal relationships as they tend to live in their own heads. They don’t enjoy being rushed for decisions and their tendency to withdraw may lead them to withholding information or opinions.
To work well with Fives:
Do: Give them time to think; encourage participation and direct communication; provide them with lots of information.
Don’t: Rush them; make assumptions about them; allow them to withdraw.
To help them grow: Give them the time and space they need for themselves, but encourage them to communicate openly with others and to maintain relationships.
Type 6 - The Loyal Skeptic
Type Sixes are perceptive, loyal workers who focus on anticipating challenges and coming up with solutions. They are strategic thinkers who are always on the lookout for problems.
Sixes’ love for rules and safety can make them pessimistic or skeptical in uncertain situations. They can become demotivated and rebellious if they don’t believe in the group’s goal.
To collaborate with Sixes at work:
Do: Agree on rules; appreciate their concerns; stay transparent; provide safety.
Don’t: Change rules suddenly; ignore their concerns; absorb their pessimism.
To help them grow: Encourage them to face their fears head-on, or help them relax and see the humor in situations.
Type 7 - The Epicure
Sevens are always thinking about what’s next. They are optimistic, forward-thinking storytellers who don’t like to be limited to one thing at a time. They love a new challenge, tool, or experience.
The challenge for Sevens is staying focused on the task at hand. They are less likely to acknowledge problems or to give the appropriate depth of thought to a subject.
To work effectively with Sevens:
Do: Listen to their positive ideas; encourage them to take responsibility; let them know what you need.
Don’t: Keep them in a box; shut them down too quickly; be too negative.
To help them grow: Help them achieve balance between idealism and practicality without dampening their passion. Encourage them to take their good ideas to completion.
Type 8 - The Protector
Eights are strong leaders who take charge of situations. They are fair, just, intense, and protective of their people.
Eights like to do things their own way, so they aren’t big on rules. Their tendency to dominate a conversation can be intimidating. They are often bossy or abrasive when things don’t go their way.
To collaborate effectively with an Eight:
Do: Communicate proactively; stand your ground; encourage vulnerability.
Don’t: Be intimidated; be defensive; be disrespectful.
To help them grow: Teach them not to use anger as a weapon. Show them constant care to teach them empathy by example.
Type 9 - The Mediator
Nines are balanced peacemakers who are able to see everyone’s point of view. They are the inclusive glue that holds teams together.
Because they value peace and harmony, they may go out of their way to avoid conflict. They also have difficulty setting priorities and creating structure.
To work well with Nines:
Do: Value fairness; stay peaceful; help them set boundaries; encourage them to take action.
Don’t: Get impatient; create unnecessary conflict; allow them to withdraw.
To help them grow: Help them create structure in their lives so they can better focus on their priorities. Encourage them to take healthy risks.
Make the Enneagram part of your recruiting process
The Enneagram test can be a useful tool to ensure you’re thoughtful about hiring different personality types, ensuring diversity of thought, and empowering productive interpersonal relationships.