The Enneagram as a development tool
We have been using the Enneagram as an assessment instrument in a Top Talent development programme for a large corporation. We have been wowed by the insights this tool has given us into the development needs of the 200 participants, and have had extremely positive feedback from many individuals and their managers.
Here are more details on what we have done:
- We held a group session entitled Introduction to the Enneagram.
- Each participant completed the online assessment lasting approximately 30 minutes. (We have used the Standard Enneagram Report by Integrated Enneagram Solutions).
- Each participant then attended two individual coaching sessions to discuss their results and their strategies to reduce their strain levels and increase their effectiveness.
- We then held a team session with the programme participants’ team members to discuss team effectiveness and how to enhance this, given the Enneagram types in the team. (This is particularly useful for teams that are experiencing conflict and it could be provided as a stand- alone intervention).
As mentors and coaches, we have observed that the business and the participants benefit in so many ways from the Enneagram and the accompanying individual coaching sessions. The main benefit is that the mentoring and coaching conversations can take place at a much deeper level i.e. at the level of motivation rather than at a behavioural level. In other words, the information provided in the Enneagram report helps a participant understand their underlying needs and concerns, and why they behave in particular ways. These insights promote self-awareness and provide the participant with a real lever for sustainable change.
Just 5 -10 minutes into the individual sessions, some of the participants have expressed surprise at how quickly we are able to discuss their real issues. We also get the comment, “Now I understand why I do that or say that.” This is usually accompanied by a broad smile, slight embarrassment or a giggle.
We believe that the strain profile shown in the Enneagram report is invaluable for the development process. It ‘red flags’ the areas in which someone is taking strain and where their current strategies are not working. This strain profile provides a reality check for all of us in these pressurised times. Judging by our experience with our 200 participants, we think that everyone could do with some help in improving their strategies for wellness and resilience. This means changing strategies for dealing with ourselves and other people. We need to face the reality about our relationships at work and at home. The Enneagram can support us in creating new habits that will allow us to be more effective.
As we continue to use the Enneagram in teams, and all participants start to understand their fellow team members better, we expect to see huge improvements in team effectiveness, and that’s certainly of benefit to the business. Participants are already able to tell when they can rely upon a team member and when that person will need support. At the same time, they are becoming aware of different motivations in the team, and the implications, and are becoming more accepting.
Personally, as a development facilitator, I have been exposed to many assessment and tests. I did not think I could learn anything more about myself from tests. And then came the Enneagram! At a guess, the Enneagram has doubled my self-understanding (including when to believe the voice in my head and when to ignore it!). Now I can see my own patterns and have started to change some of those when they don’t work for me and my team. I laugh a lot more at the ridiculous patterns that I have been trapped in and I celebrate when I choose to step away from the ineffective ones. It has helped me to relate to my children in a way that they respond to (as oppose to pushing them or pulling them) and it has allowed me to communicate my challenges in my marriage in a way that is heard and processed.
We have all experienced great progress when it comes to technology in our lifetime. However, now it is time to catch up in how we understand ourselves, manage ourselves and build fulfilling careers and relationships. Using the Enneagram in your personal life and in your business will enable growth in you and your teams. The benefits outweigh the costs in resources and time and will positively impact the personal and professional lives of those people involved.
Look out for our next blog on using the Enneagram with university students.
Huge thanks to all those who have been involved in developing the Enneagram over hundreds of years and also thanks to Lucille Greeff and Dirk Cloete from Integrative Enneagram Solutions who have provided us with their Enneagram tool. My team and I are forever indebted to you.