Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


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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?


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How to Get Along with Your Coworkers

IMG_0083We spend most of our waking hours at work, dealing with a wide variety of people. From co-workers to clients and bosses to customers, we’re bound to run into a diverse array of personality types. Some of the people we work with think similarly to us, but others have such different ways of communicating and getting their job done that we feel like they come from another planet!

Maybe you work with someone like Andre. Whenever you walk through the door, he greets you with a big smile. When you need an extra pencil or stapler, and sometimes when you don’t, there he is with a new one in his hand. He likes to take everyone out to lunch and catch up on how they’re doing. He knows all his officemates’ birthdays, and brings the same personal touch to his customer service.

While Andre is generally liked by his colleagues, for some of them he can be a little much. Gloria, a reserved thinker, is overwhelmed by his gregarious approach. Colleagues call her “the walking encyclopedia,” and rely on her to find resources and explain new systems. She uses long stretches of time in her office to research and strategize.

Andre wonders why Gloria doesn’t like him. Gloria wonders why Andre intrudes on her space.

Andre’s dominant Enneagram type is Two, the Helper, while Gloria’s is Five, the Investigator. On the surface, the two of them have little in common. With the help of the Enneagram, they can bridge their personality differences and come to a new understanding of each other.

Here are some ways that Andre and Gloria (or you and the people in your workplace) can use the Enneagram to understand each other and work together more effectively.

Find common ground.

While Andre and Gloria have different ways of interacting, their personality types share certain values and motives. Twos and Fives both want to make a significant contribution and fulfill a certain indispensable role on their team. Both of these types have a strong need to be valued for the talents and skills they bring to the office. Other commonalities between Enneagram types might include communication styles, conflict resolution styles, or dominant Instincts. With a new understanding of their commonality, Gloria and Andre can connect around their shared values. They can make active efforts to acknowledge and appreciate each other’s  divergent but equally valuable roles they fill in the team.

Understand and respect differences.

Not only do Andrea and Gloria have different ways of interacting; they also have different needs. Andre needs a lot of engagement with other people, while Gloria needs sufficient solitude to generate ideas. When they look at their relationship through the other person’s eyes, they’re able to develop ways to get their own needs met while connecting with each other. Andre realizes that the best way to help and connect with Gloria is to allow her alone time when she needs it, while Gloria understands that she’ll have a smoother relationship with Andre if she makes an effort to reach out and engage.

Two and Five are just two of the nine types you’ll encounter in the workplace. We wrote an e-book to share what we’ve learned about how all the Enneagram types act at work, and how to collaborate effectively with each of them. In Decoding Personality in the Workplace, you’ll read about nine different people who act a lot like people you know, and discover ways to leverage your own work performance. You can download your copy at no cost by filling out the form at this link.

You’ll get a couple e-mails before you can download the book – one to confirm your e-mail address, and then one that gives you the link to the download page. (See instructions below.)

Happy reading!

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