Enneagram: A Tool to Improve Your Team Experience

Evolve your skills and support your team members with this personality map

A team meeting in an office.

In every team, we have two very important goals: to achieve the results we established as a group, and to fulfill our own individual expectations. As we collaborate with our teammates and dedicate ourselves to a project, we also strive to improve our specific skills and grow as professionals. The Enneagram can guide us toward both of those goals.

After years working as a coach and talent management consultant, I’ve helped many teams increase their collaboration and productivity with data provided by the Enneagram, which is a personality mapping tool that increases clarity and provides direction.

What is the Enneagram?

The Enneagram is a model that maps different personalities and is a key element for team building and self-awareness. It is represented by a geometric figure that is over 2,500 years old and is composed of 9 lines. Each line represents a personality type, or an Enneatype. The word Enneagram comes from the Greek: ennea meaning nine, and grammos meaning lines.

Every Enneatype is a psychological framework that illuminates personality characteristics, including beliefs, values, and even fears. Every person has a dominant Enneatype; though we may sometimes present behaviors from the other 8 types, one type is predominant. The way we perceive ourselves and the world, and how we act upon it, is influenced by our Enneatype.

By understanding our personality, we can better understand our motivations and concerns; it helps us to be more conscious about who we are, our relationships, and how we face challenges and opportunities. As I always say, self-awareness is the first step to know how we can grow, leveraging our strengths, and recognizing aspects we should improve.

Different people, different personalities

Our Enneatype indicates our unconscious behavioral patterns and motivations, and guides our view of the world. As mentioned before, all of us have a dominant Enneatype, but we can present characteristics of other personality types in different ways and moments in our life.

I like to use a metaphor to explain how all the diversity of people in the world can be reduced to only 9 personality types. As we know, there are 5 main eye colors in general: brown, black, gray, green, and blue. However, it’s impossible to find 2 people that have the exact same eye color. The same thing happens with the Enneagram: 9 Enneatypes organize the main characteristics and mental models, however each person has their own unique combination of aspects and behaviors. People that have the same Enneatype share similarities in their way of seeing the world and acting, but they are also influenced by many other factors that have shaped them into the people they are.

I believe that being emotionally intelligent is all about recognizing our emotions, preferences, expectations, and fears. By getting to know more of our personalities, we can start to plan what we’d like to change in ourselves.

The 9 Enneatypes

How does the Enneagram help teams and organizations?

Companies are increasingly interested in boosting their employees’ technical and soft skills. Their motivation, professional growth, and personal development are important factors for increasing results and efficiency.

Knowing the Enneagram and working alongside your team brings many benefits for selection and onboarding processes, work culture evaluation and improvement, coaching, career planning, and more.

Leaders can better understand what motivates their team members, what causes stress, which person is more suited to a specific task, how to effectively support each employee based on their characteristics, etc. It’s a tool to help assemble high-performing teams and improve the general work culture.

It can also be used to map potential leaders and identify profiles that are missing to define next hires. I always recommend completing an organizational diagnosis when you first start working with the Enneagram in order to recognize which personalities are already part of the team. This helps us understand skills that we need to develop and how new profiles can complement the existing ones.

To prepare for giving feedback, to offer new challenges to an employee, to build teams and evaluate performance – knowing the Enneatype of the people involved gives you a lot of extra data for identifying the best approach and communication style. 

How to discover your Enneatype

There are many online tests for identifying your Enneatype, but I don’t really recommend them. A test is a picture of the moment, so if you answer it quickly or without paying much attention, the results may not be something you identify with.

In my opinion, the most valuable thing is to identify and analyze your personality type with a coach or Enneagram expert. In the Enneagram workshops I lead, in addition to discovering your dominant Enneatype, we also identify your level in the other 8 personality types so you can have the general picture.

Once you know your Enneatype, you can work with the coach or your leader in setting an action plan. Recognize the areas you want to work on and set clear, specific actions for getting there.

We began implementing the Enneagram at Octobot a few months ago. We’re conducting the diagnosis in each team and area, followed by a coaching space so everyone can set personal goals. Leaders receive the information about their teammates’ Enneatypes and how they can use it to support and challenge their team.

A team meeting in an office.
One of our Enneagram workshops in Octobot.

The Enneagram in the IT industry

In our industry, where personal rotation is so elevated, keeping staff motivated is not as simple as offering some benefits and having a ping pong table in the office. We need to dive deeper to understand what motivates every person and how their job can help them grow and evolve. Companies need to be able to see every individual and how to support them, not only at a professional level, but also at a personal one. In addition, our sector is growing non-stop, thanks to the world’s fast digitalization. Therefore, if we want to respond to this huge demand and expand our teams, we need to utilize every tool at our disposal to understand our people better. At the end of the day, we all want to feel accepted and supported to achieve our individual and collective goals. When we find work spaces where we can be ourselves and work on the aspects we want to improve, we are able to give our best and grow alongside the company.

Recommended materials

If you are Spanish-speaking and want to learn more about the Enneagram, you can listen to our podcast, Octobot Tech Talks, where I spoke recently about this tool. Below are additional links in English and Spanish for those who want to read more about it.

In Spanish:

In English:

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