The Enneagram has quickly emerged as the most popular personality inventory, especially with millennials. Websites pose questions like "Which Friends character are you based on your Enneagram type?" or "What's the perfect Disney song for your Enneagram type?" Something about its categorization into nine personality types has captured the public's imagination. Google searches show the number of people looking up the word "Enneagram" began skyrocketing in 2017. Before the pandemic, the "Enneagram boom" involved people gathering for Enneagram parties and workshops (LA times).
The Enneagram has even made its way into the corporate world and leadership training. According to Jim McPartlin's 2021 book "The Enneagram at Work," companies like Best Buy, the Walt Disney Company, GEICO, and Chanel have incorporated the Enneagram into their practices throughout the last decade. A study by Enneagram in Business covering 72 companies, including Best Buy, Toyota, and Avon, found that Enneagram training led to better collaboration, increased sales, and improved employee engagement (CNN).
Helen Palmer, Co-Founder of the Enneagram Worldwide, explains "the Enneagram allows you to grasp the reality other people are living in, to see where they are coming from, their filters, their points of view" (CNN). Each of the nine archetypes represents a pattern of behavior. It's best to not think of them as a limiting box, but rather as a way to gain insight into ourselves and others. Most people have aspects of all nine archetypes, but usually one stands out as dominant.
Characteristics – Ones strive for perfection. They have the highest ethical standards and hold others to these standards as well. Ones are often critical of themselves and others when expectations are not met (McPartlin). In the office, they are detail-oriented employees who love to-do lists. Their tolerance for tedious work makes them the go-to person for difficult tasks (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – An office where rewards and negative consequences are doled out fairly (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – In the eyes of a One, a project is never truly finished. They should learn the difference between "perfect" and "good enough" and assess which tasks are worth their time and energy (Ishler).
Characteristics – Twos focus on becoming indispensable to others and are happy to help others achieve their needs, even if it means sacrificing their own (McPartlin). In the office, they are employees who know everything about their peers' personal lives and often serve as sounding boards to peers who need help or just want to vent. This makes Twos caring leaders with excellent people skills, but it can also hamper their efficiency (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – An office where interpersonal sharing is valued (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Twos have a habit of taking on too much. They should create a list of the biggest tasks to prioritize each week and conquer those before chipping in to help coworkers (Ishler).
Characteristics – Goals, status, and image are of utmost importance to Threes. They often accomplish a great deal, but are perceived as being less than sensitive with people's emotions (McPartlin). In the office, Threes thrive in performance-based positions like sales and are great at turning on the charm and schoozing clients. They make excellent first impressions and ace every job interview, but can sometimes cut corners or disregard others in the name of results (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – An office where success is rewarded (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Threes should check in with their goals often to make sure they are working towards the things that are right for them, not just what they believe fits the fold of success. They should try vision boarding or working with a coach to pinpoint authentic long-term goals. (Ishler)
Characteristics – Fours enjoy intensity in relationships and look for this in personal connections. They are extremely creative with a desire to be acknowledged as special. They are inspired, expressive, and purpose driven (McPartlin). In the office, Fours are unconventional and very comfortable not blending in with peers. They value authenticity and often serve as the office "BS monitor" (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – A job with room to express their individuality (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Despite wanting to feel special, Fours benefit from having a routine. Because Fours can be swept away by emotions, it's important for them to set daily intentions. This will help Fours work through creative blockages and help them reach their goals (Ishler).
Characteristics – Fives are logical and emotionally detached. They prioritize intellectual reasoning and are naturally observant and curious (McPartlin). At the office, Fives are the co-workers who won't speak up at the team meeting, but will email follow-up thoughts a day or two later. They don't voice their thoughts until they've had a chance to fully process information. Fives don't desire the corner office; they desire independence (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – An office that allows independent work with minimal interruptions (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Fives can become so engrossed in a task that they go hours without even taking a sip of water. Fives live in their head and resort to analytical thinking, but they need to keep their body active as well. They should take walks or stretch breaks when they feel stuck or over-analytical. The activity usually helps bring new ideas. (Ishler)
Characteristics – Sixes are equally warrior and worrier. They prepare for worst-case-scenarios, while also being loyal and trustworthy (McPartlin). At the office, Sixes always show up to meetings prepared, but their self-doubt and "what if" questions can slow down a company's forward momentum. Their ability to spot worst case scenarios can be an asset to a team if harnessed by a patient leader (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – An office with clear responsibilities and trustworthy leaders (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Sixes benefit from familiarity. It's important they feel safe and secure in their workspace. Sixes should incorporate comforting elements into their office space, such as photos of friends and family, plants, art, and comfy furniture. (Ishler)
Characteristics – Sevens have a worldview that life has endless possibilities. They are adventurous, upbeat, and excited to try new things. They're often entrepreneurial and adaptable, with an infectious optimism (McPartlin). In the office, Sevens are the popular co-workers who throw themed parties for the office staff and buy everyone a round at happy hour. However as leaders, their enthusiasm might send workers bouncing from task to task, leaving each unfinished, due to their lack of discipline (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – A flexible and fun office (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Sevens have a tendency to rush through tasks and become scattered. They should take time to pause, take deep breaths, and remind themselves to stay focused on the task at hand, rather than be distracted by future opportunities. Sevens benefit from working in time blocks, where they dedicate a specific amount of time to a specific task, in order to ensure their focus (Ishler).
Characteristics – Eights enjoy being in control and having personal power. They assert themselves fully, but sometimes don't take into account the thoughts and feelings of those around them. They value truth and people who can hold their own (McPartlin). In the office, Eights are the co-workers with a tendency to take things over. They have the ability to make fast-paced decisions and not worry about what others think. Because of their directness, Eights can be powerful negotiators (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – A job with high risk and high impact (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – For Eights, approaching tasks through a problem-solving lens will help them be more productive. They should approach their work by identifying a problem and brainstorming multiple solutions. Eights will benefit from working through ideas with a trusted colleague. (Ishler)
Characteristics – Nines have the natural ability to see all sides of a situation. They are diplomats, thoughtful and fair-minded, but decision-making can be hard for them (McPartlin). In the office, Nines are easy to get along with and assimilate well into a variety of work cultures. Nines want no part of office politics. Sometimes they need to be nudged to give honest feedback, otherwise lack of self-expression can shift into passive aggression. Nines often serve as the office mediator (Paulk).
Ideal Work Environment – A predictable job with low tension (Paulk)
Productivity Hack – Because Nines desire harmony and connection with those around them, they can struggle to separate what's important to themselves versus others. Nines can remain proactive in achieving their goals by choosing small daily tasks to accomplish. (Ishler)
So why is understanding the Enneagram so crucial for a high-functioning office?
Once your team members understand their individual types, each of them has actionable insights and strategies to improve their own habits. It also helps your team members better understand one another (Forbes).
Enneagram knowledge can go a long way in resolving conflict and it allows supervisors to direct employees in tailored ways that set them up for success (Success.com). In short, the Enneagram shows us how to bring out the best of ourselves and each other (McPartlin).
To further explore your Enneagram Number, take these tests recommended by KatieCouric.com.