Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


Leave a comment

Book Excerpt: Solving Problems at Work

Our new book, The Modern Enneagram, just got published. It’s an introduction to the system and its practical applications, with a storytelling style and modern updates. We’re pleased to share an excerpt about ways to use the Enneagram for workplace problem solving with you.

* * * * *

The Enneagram is a popular way for businesses to help their teams understand each other and improve their performance and communication. It’s a useful tool for mediating disputes and resolving interpersonal conflicts on the job.

After learning about the nine types, Julia, an Enneagram Type Seven, started applying her new knowledge to her job of managing a team of graphic designers at a branding firm. She had her colleagues take an Enneagram type assessment, and they now have a common language to talk about each other’s personalities and viewpoints.

Let’s take a look at a scenario where the Enneagram helped solve a problem involving a diverse group of people in Julia’s workplace.

Bob is a repeat client of the firm where Julia works. He has contracted with the company to rebrand his business, including a new logo and marketing strategy. Exacting and critical, he has many specifications for the project. Having worked with Bob before, Julia believes him to be a Type One.

Kevin, a Type Four, is the designer in charge of visual branding for Bob’s company. He completed a logo and portfolio of visual material for the rebranding project, but Bob is dissatisfied with Kevin’s colorful, free-form designs. He wants the whole portfolio redesigned, and he has many specific changes that he would like Kevin to make. Being a One, he has high expectations and desires a brand identity that gets all the details right. He tells Julia that he wants the new portfolio within a set timeline, and says that if it isn’t up to his standards, he will not work with the company in the future. As a Seven, Julia wants to keep interactions optimistic—and she does not want to lose a valuable client. She assures Bob that Kevin will give him what he wants.

Kevin, however, says the timeline is unrealistic. It’s just too tight for him to redesign all the material required. Julia does not have a background in graphic design, and her knowledge of the field comes from working with designers rather than from firsthand experience. She doesn’t understand why a redesign can’t be done quickly.

Kevin explains that Bob’s expected timeline will not result in the powerful visual brand identity his company desires. At best, it will result in some slapdash materials that don’t reflect the quality the branding firm is known for. As a Four, Kevin takes the creative process seriously and values producing well-developed and eye-catching work. Kevin needs more time to come up with new concepts that will fit Bob’s precise specifications and still stand out in the market.

Lakesha, who heads the marketing department, is also advocating quick turnaround. She needs to have the visual branding finished in order for her department to complete the marketing strategy for Bob’s company and have it ready for an upcoming launch party. As a Three on the Enneagram, she wants the branding firm to put their best foot forward, and she sees satisfying the client as part of that.

Julia feels caught between Kevin’s request for more time, and Bob and Lakesha’s requests for more speed. She expresses her frustration to Lakesha—who has more design knowledge than Julia—and they decide to problem solve together. When she hears about the level of changes that Bob wants Kevin to make to the visual branding portfolio, Lakesha agrees that the timeline is unrealistic. Julia is resistant at first. After all, managing interactions with designers is her job, and she wants to make the customer happy. When Lakesha suggests negotiating a compromise with Bob, Julia realizes that she has some workable ideas (and strategies to deliver them) that will please both Bob and Kevin.

Julia contacts Bob and tells him that she respects the integrity of his vision for his company (a strong value for Bob as a One), and her branding firm is committed to representing this vision in the world. She uses her Type Seven strength of positivity to emphasize the advantages of Kevin’s design, and explains that, in order to get the new portfolio completed in time, Bob will need to compromise on some of the changes he wants. She speaks to the effort Kevin is putting in and the high standards of the firm’s design process. Bob is still grumpy, but Julia’s upbeat manner and understanding of his values assuage him somewhat. He is willing to compromise on certain aspects of the redesign, though not on the timeline.

Julia and Lakesha talk to Kevin together about the compromises Bob is willing to make. Kevin is relieved that, with a less intensive redesign, the timeline is closer to being workable. Lakesha proposes a structured plan for completing the project on time, and Julia expresses full confidence in his work. With Julia motivating him, Kevin is able to complete the redesigned logo and portfolio, and Lakesha’s team moves ahead with the marketing strategy.

Ultimately, Bob feels that his company’s rebrand is in good hands because Julia used honesty and integrity when dealing with him. Kevin feels like his creative process has been respected. Lakesha is happy to have achieved her client’s goal of a successful launch, and kept the firm’s good standing in Bob’s eyes. Julia is relieved that everyone involved with the redesign conflict is satisfied and on good terms. Thanks to the Enneagram, their needs and viewpoints have all been heard. They can move on to the next project harmoniously, without any lingering tension.

* * * * *

The Modern Enneagram is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/2jIWXtR and from Amazon.ca at https://is.gd/qZt89f.


Leave a comment

Organizational Development Using the Enneagram

20160217_134027The Enneagram benefits more than just the individuals and teams who exist within a workplace; it also supports the organization itself in remaining healthy. Understanding company culture from an Enneagram standpoint can help organizations address blind spots, build new capacities, and grow.

Just like individuals, organizations and cultures also have an Enneagram type! Many Enneagram teachers, for example, will observe that the United States has a type Three culture and Canada a type Nine culture. Similarly, companies tend to have a culture based on an Enneagram type. A type Two company culture, for example, may be particularly focused on serving the relationship with their customers, while a type Six company culture may be particularly focused on protecting the security of the company.

While most company cultures have inherent strengths, they also tend to have certain blind spots. A type Two company culture may be so focused on relationships that they forget to attend to important paperwork and balancing the budget. A type Six company culture may be so focused on preserving the security of the company that they avoid taking risks that would move the company forward in a positive way.

An assessment from an Enneagram workplace consultant will assist companies in seeing what Enneagram type strategies their workplace culture values and what Enneagram types they tend to neglect. Often, workplaces will tend to hire people who display the Enneagram types their culture values. For example, a company that strongly values type Two strategies may hire a large number of workers who are Twos, while being less impressed by the contributions of another type, such as a type Five who is more likely to be focused on information than customer relationships. Looking at hiring through the lens of the Enneagram can help diversify the process and acknowledge the value and necessity of overlooked skill sets.

Organizational Enneagram consultants may also look at the Level of Development in which a company is functioning, outside of type. A company that is functioning well will not only have minimize the conflicts among employees, it will also bring strong contributions to the world. Companies that are less healthy will typically have more miscommunications and conflicts and will spend more time mediating these challenges than growing as organizations. Unhealthy companies may even resort to cutting corners, or even unethical behavior, just to stay afloat.

Using the Enneagram in organizations supports companies in creating and maintaining a culture that hires and values a workforce of diverse, complementary personalities. It also aids companies in developing strategies that allow them to function healthfully and focus on bringing intrinsic value to their field.


Leave a comment

Network Well by Using Your Instincts

IMG_0521Most of us know the famous saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Whether you’re employed, looking for work, an entrepreneur, or some combination of the above, there’s no doubt that networking and relationship building are instrumental in professional success. The research shows that strong networking skills not only help us find the right position, but also correlate with higher salary, more promotions, and increased satisfaction in the workplace.

There are many ways to build your network, from keeping in touch with new contacts to connecting with people you’d like to get to know through professional contacts on LinkedIn. One common and useful way of meeting new people is to attend or host networking events focused on common goals or interests.  

The three Instincts, Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social, all bring unconscious needs and biases to in-person and online networking. We tend to overdo the needs of our dominant Instinct and underdo, or minimize, our blind spot Instinct’s needs. In order to develop strong networking skills, all of us must bring attention to all three Instincts, to meet the needs of others and ourselves. Below are some suggestions on how to plan and successfully navigate networking events in a way that addresses the desires of all three Instincts.

Self-Preservation: The Self-Preservation Instinct is the part of us that cares about our physical environment and space. If you’re planning a networking event, make sure the venue has comfortable spaces for guests to unwind, and food and drink for a wide range of dietary needs. Let people know in advance if the temperature tends to run hot or cold. At the event, make sure you talk to people in locations where they’re physically comfortable – move to a table if your contact is precariously balancing food and drink during the conversation.

If Self-Preservation is your dominant Instinct, it can be easy to get caught up in sensitivity to the environment, at the expense of getting to know others. Make an effort to spend some time moving around the room, introducing yourself to other people, and letting them know how you can be of value to them.

Sexual: The Sexual Instinct is the part of us that cares about the excitement and stimulation the event provides. Include something about the event, whether it’s an edgy venue or exotic food, that pushes the envelope and gets your guests fired up to be there. Make the event open to allowing all guests to express creativity and discuss their passions. At the event, engage participants by getting them to discuss topics that excite them. Don’t be afraid to break from “working the room” and spend more time with a participant with whom you feel a particularly strong mutual connection.

If Sexual is your dominant Instinct, you may have a tendency to focus on people you find exciting, rather than building networking relationships that support your professional growth. Take the time to explore meeting a wide variety of people, focusing on mutual reciprocity over immediate chemistry.

Social: The Social Instinct is the part of us that cares about finding connection and common ground with others. To bring out the Social Instinct in guests, make sure the venue has plenty of open spaces for ample conversation, and plan icebreakers to get attendees to start talking. Engage the Social Instinct of participants at networking events by not just getting “down to business” – spend time getting to know each other first. Pay attention to the needs of contacts and build relationships by making sure you can offer ways to help and support them, too.

If Social is your dominant Instinct, you likely excel at meeting others at networking events, but sometimes you can work the room a little too quickly and smoothly. Spend enough time getting to know other participants and finding shared interests and values, and help others by introducing them to people you think they’d connect with.

Keeping the three Instincts in mind as you navigate networking events will add to your own and others’ enjoyment, and enhance the quality of the connections you make.


Leave a comment

Book Review: The Awakened Company

Awakened Company cover
Our colleague Catherine Bell (no relation to Melanie Bell) recently released a book that we’re excited about. Written in collaboration with Enneagram expert Russ Hudson and Christopher Papadopoulos, The Awakened Company is a passionate and pragmatic call for a new way of doing business. While traditional business models focus primarily on profit and efficiency, Bell calls for a big-picture approach that also takes sustainability, community, and mindfulness into account.

The Awakened Company comes at a time, post-financial crash, when “the historic notions of doing business are rapidly unraveling on nearly all levels” (p. 4). Bell describes the problems of meaningless work, a growth-based (and thus ultimately unsustainable) financial model, and the “business is business” philosophy, which “assumes that the purpose of business is to make money, and whatever it takes to do so is okay” (p. 1). She recalls the history of early businesses, rooted in family, community, and service, and calls for a way of doing business that returns to these roots and innovates beyond them. The result is the “awakened” company of the book’s title, which is attentive to global context.

Bell argues that the smallest business decisions have consequences, and that companies benefit from making sure that these decisions – from the sourcing of products to the creation of company culture – are made ethically and with deliberation. “Business is far from just ‘business’,” she concludes; “It’s deeply interwoven with the whole of life” (p. 57). In order to thrive in the modern world, corporations need to adopt a deep-rooted sense of civic responsibility and connectedness.

Much of the book discusses the importance of building greater awareness in the business sphere. Bell introduces the qualities of “presence,” a state of being grounded, attentive, and open, and their positive effects on the workplace. Cultivating presence in leaders and teams fosters adaptability, harmony, and work relationships that feel meaningful. The book argues that the functioning of any company is improved when a leader or small team cultivates a climate of mindful awareness that spreads throughout the organization. Bell also makes a convincing case for the importance of growing aspects of company culture that are often overlooked, such as reflection and aesthetics (and the Enneagram is in there, subtly).

The Awakened Company takes a macro approach, and covers a lot of ground. The book is peppered with brief case examples, allowing readers to better understand how the book’s organizational principles are implemented on the ground. Hopefully a future publication will cover such examples in more detail. The book often uses spiritual language, but The Awakened Company’s suggestions are well researched and eminently practical. This book is ideal for leaders seeking a thorough and well-thought-out guide to principles of sustainable company-building. Happily, the approaches laid out by The Awakened Company are increasingly common in today’s business landscape. With Bell’s book reaching a broader audience, their reach may continue to grow.


Leave a comment

How Enneagram Types Work in Teams

20140926_143809Strong collaborative skills are more crucial in the workplace today than ever before. According to the New York Times, jobs with a strong social component continue to increase, while more solitary occupations have lost positions. Additionally, modern workplaces of all kinds are embracing a collective, consensus-based approach, with over 70 percent of offices using an open floor plan in their company.

Most employees spend a significant amount of time with their coworkers. Our coworkers often become our friends, and sometimes even feel like family, but when misunderstandings ensue, there’s also the potential for conflict and even workplace bullying within teams. In order to work together cohesively, teammates must learn to respect and leverage each other’s strengths, while productively solving any conflicts that arise.

The Enneagram provides a personality map that shows the unique gifts different workers bring to their team and workplace. When employees’ strengths are leveraged, and they’re each given a role in the team that plays to their strengths, they thrive and contribute in group work. The Enneagram also identifies areas of difficulty for each of the nine types, areas where teammates can provide support. All of the nine Enneagram types have the potential to work well in teams. Below, we describe the strengths and social role of each Enneagram type in teams, as well as blind spots they can face.

Type One: Ones bring principle and discipline to teams. Often inspired by great vision, Ones ensure everyone is working toward the team’s goals in a manner that is ethical. Under stress, Ones can challenge other team members by being critical of their teammates not doing things the “right” way. Ones work best in teams when given a role where they can bring structure and pragmatism toward pushing goals forward.

Type Two: Twos bring interpersonal skills and consideration to teams. In groups, Twos are excellent at checking in and making sure everyone on the team is taken care of. Under stress, Twos can challenge other team members by focusing on team relationships at the expense of completing the project. Twos work best in teams when given a role where they can work on the relational or collaborative aspects of the project.

Type Three: Threes bring excellence and adaptability to teams. Often extremely polished, Threes are great at selling and marketing the team’s product and helping out in any way they’re needed. Threes can challenge other team members when they become too focused on doing the work themselves, at the expense of collaboration and delegation. Threes work best in teams when given a role where their impressive results are valued.

Type Four: Fours bring creativity and awareness to teams. Oriented to the personal realm and aesthetics, Fours ensure goals are created and executed in a manner that’s true to the team and company. Team members can be challenged by Fours when they become self-absorbed, making it difficult for them to participate fully. Fours work best in teams when given the opportunity to bring their creative abilities and sensitivity to projects.

Type Five: Fives bring focus and strategic thinking to teams. In teams, Fives often become the designated expert, using their brainpower to solve difficult problems. Team members can be challenged by Fives when they detach into their intellectual worlds, ignoring team relationships. Fives do their best work in teams when given a role that uses their sharp mental focus, such as strategic planning and innovation.

Type Six: Sixes bring dedication and hard work to teams. Sixes make wonderful allies and are willing to put in long hours, building group cohesion and giving their all to any workplaces they support. Sixes can challenge their team members by doubting their commitment to a project, causing the Six to “test” their teammates. Sixes work best when given structured opportunities to provide team support and the opportunity to be an advocate.

Type Seven: Sevens bring lightning-fast productivity and team spirit to teams. Sevens make teamwork fun, ensuring team members enjoy themselves while they work hard. Sevens can be challenging to their teammates when they become overly scattered and busy, making it hard for them to be pinned down or complete work. Sevens work best when given a role where they can wear a variety of hats, taking advantage of their spontaneity.

Type Eight: Eights bring strength and energy to teams. Natural leaders, Eights are great at getting a project started and ensuring that it continues to move forward. Team members can be challenged by Eights when they become overly domineering and don’t let others on the team have an equal voice. Eights do best in active, “doing” roles and situations where they can express their natural confidence and leadership.

Type Nine: Nines bring consensus and harmony to teams. Nines make great natural mediators when there’s conflict on the team and are often excellent at seeing the broader picture of the team’s goals. Other team members can be challenged by Nines when they become overly passive, “checking out” from the group and not expressing opinions. Nines do best in roles of creating group cohesion and mediating conflict.

Ultimately, when teammates learn each other’s teamwork style, they develop a greater understanding of differences and respect for their colleagues’ strengths, creating a happier and more productive workplace.


Leave a comment

Meeting the Instinctual Needs of Different Organizations

IMG_20150619_213544Working with different organizations is a fascinating study in contrasts. Moving from one group to another, we’ve witnessed focuses and needs that required vastly different approaches.

The Enneagram’s Instincts are a useful model for understanding the priorities and needs of organizations as well as individuals. The Instincts represent unconscious drives, or groups of related behaviors, that seek to get our core needs met. They are a more fundamental part of the way we work than personality type, and can be viewed as an independent mini-typology. People of each personality type can be driven by each of the three Instincts. We share all three, but they are present in individuals and groups to varying degrees, with one running the show and shaping core values.

Different dominant Instincts in organizations call for different approaches. Here are three case studies from our teaching to demonstrate what each Instinct looks like as a dominant focus in organizations, and to share ideas about how to meet the needs of these different types of groups.

Social

A group we worked with recently was dominated by the concerns and energy of the Social Instinct, which is focused on navigating community dynamics. A non-profit that exists to serve the needs of a marginalized community, its team members are a good mix of members of that community and external advocates. When we walked through the door, we saw people milling around, checking in with each other. The room buzzed with talk. It was clear from the way people interacted, before and during our workshop, that inclusion was a priority.

Unsurprisingly for this organization, the workshop we’d been invited to teach focused on communication; it became clear that this group had brought us in to meet Social Instinct needs. We took our cues from the group and focused on creating avenues for engagement. We prioritized group activities that facilitated understanding between members, and left the floor open for lots of questions and discussion.

Self-Preservation

After working with that lively group, the next one came as a bit of a surprise. This organization was focused on holistic health and wellness, and the physical space reflected that philosophy. Soft colors abounded, and rooms were spacious. Our point person was ready to attend to any physical needs our presentation involved, from tweaking the air conditioning to making sure we had writing supplies. We’d arrived in a headquarters dominated by the Self-Preservation Instinct, which is focused on preserving stability, well-being, and resources.

The people at our workshop seemed as mellow as the space. They were quiet, composed, and moved with deliberation. It soon became clear that they wanted a workshop that matched the organization’s stabilizing values. They prioritized comfort in their space, so we moderated things like temperature and seating, striving to make sure the group was comfortable. In our activities, we focused on mindfulness, giving participants time to relax and ground themselves.

Transmitting / Sexual

Another organization was interested in a growth-oriented workshop. As with the previous group, the environment was beautiful, but in a more attention-grabbing way. Both the space and the people shone with rich colors and decorations, and the group actively sought a non-traditional approach. This organization’s dominant influence is often called the Sexual Instinct in relationships or personal work, as it’s the drive behind reproduction. Transmitting is a more accurate description of this Instinct’s role in organizations, since it drives them to bring information, services, products, or messages into the world.

The group was enthusiastic and honed in on us as speakers. They wanted a workshop that would push them to see themselves more clearly and make changes. Picking up on this Transmitting group’s driven energy, we worked on making our material and delivery fresh and exciting to keep their attention. We brought in innovative approaches and engaged with the group’s focused follow-up questions as they sought to know more.

Think about the groups or teams that you’re a part of. Which Instinct runs the show for each one? What needs and strengths do these dominant Instincts present in the groups you know best?


Leave a comment

Why Self-Awareness Matters

IMG_0650 - CopyIf you were a Greek citizen in the 4th century B.C., traveling to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to listen to the Oracle’s wisdom, you’d find this inscription on the wall: “Know thyself.” In more recent years, self-awareness gets less press than flashier qualities like ambition and charisma. However, it matters just as much today as it did in ancient Greece. Here are 4 ways that self-awareness, one of the biggest results of learning the Enneagram, benefits our work and daily life.

  1. It builds business success.

A 2009 study found high self-awareness to be the top predictor of executives’ success. These self-aware executives are more likely to hire people who excel in their own areas of weakness, and to recognize when others’ ideas are better than their own. Most businesses require skills beyond what their leadership team is immediately able to provide. Self-aware leaders can recognize these gaps and make judicious choices about when to acquire these skills and when to outsource. They structure their teams intelligently and are open to learning from others. Not only does their willingness to delegate create a happier and more cohesive team; it also pays off in dollars. A 2015 study of 486 public companies’ financial performance found that the highest-earning companies had the most self-aware employees with the fewest blind spots – areas that professionals named as personal strengths but their colleagues’ feedback revealed to be personal weaknesses.

  1. It improves time management.

We all want to spend our time on things we care about. If social justice gets you moving, you’d probably be happiest contributing your time to the greater good, whether that’s volunteering in a soup kitchen on the weekends or founding an NGO. If you value the impact and experience of speaking to crowds, you might drag your feet in a career that revolves around one-on-one work or working from home. If you’re a person that needs a lot of solitude, your ideal schedule will look different than that of someone who values lots of family time. Becoming aware of what motivates you allows you to make wise choices about how to spend your time, both professionally and personally.

  1. It helps you find a niche.

Having a good sense of your strengths can tip you off to the type of work that’s best suited to you. If you’re great at building relationships with people, let that permeate your career, whether through direct client work or B2B marketing. If you’re gifted at working with your hands, see if you can use that ability even if you’re in a seemingly unrelated field. (We’ve both had colleagues who were lauded for their beautiful office decorations!) Once you have a good sense of how and where you bring the most value, let it guide the choices you make. It might just become the thing you’re known for, the catalyst of your personal success story.

  1. It strengthens relationships.

We all have tendencies that drive other people crazy. Self-awareness allows us to see them. If you find yourself criticizing or dominating (or whatever pattern you do that gets on people’s nerves), take a moment to notice what’s going on in your body. See if you can step back from your reaction and choose a different way to engage. The important people in your life will thank you! What’s more, when you’re open and attentive rather than habit-driven, other people will be more open, too. They’ll feel more appreciated and connect to you more easily. Having a daily self-observation practice, like mindfulness or yoga, is helpful in building these self-awareness skills. If you practice noticing your mind’s tricks on the mat, it will become easier to notice them among friends, colleagues, and family.

No matter what your personality type is, you’ll reap benefits from building self-awareness. Are there subtle ways you can restructure your life to play to your strengths? Are there small steps you can take to mitigate your challenges? As you learn more about yourself, what actions can you take to help you thrive?