Small businesses have much to gain from a relatively unknown, yet powerful, tool utilised by HR and culture professionals around the world.
The Enneagram is a personality system that is based on nine basic personality types. Each person has a certain way of seeing the world, and this is defined by a single number on the Enneagram. However, the system itself consists of many moving parts; it is nuanced, dynamic and complex. Its purpose isn’t to reduce people to a single number, rather, it allows people to understand the huge spectrum of perception.
One of the Enneagram’s main uses is pinpointing people’s core motivations and aversions. Businesses often use it as a tool to understand their employees in conducting work and creating culture.
Small businesses, in particular, can benefit greatly from using the Enneagram. It allows people to grow in their professional skills as well as their self-awareness and ultimately empowers workers to make better decisions. On a small scale, this can make all the difference for business outcomes.
We’ve outlined some practical ways the Enneagram can act as an asset to benefit small businesses.
1. It helps put people into roles that suit them.
One of the key features about the Enneagram is that it doesn’t just tell us what we do, like every other personality system, but it reveals why we do the things we do.
In small businesses, there are a lot of cross-over in terms of duties. Because necessity often calls for it, employees end up in roles they didn’t necessarily sign up for.
The Enneagram helps identify people’s core drivers (success, peace, justice etc.) and gives those in leadership guidance when assigning tasks and shaping roles. It sheds a helpful light on how roles can be modified to yield the best results based on a particular individual’s type.
2. It helps employees manage stress.
When a business is small, it often means that people are in close proximity to each other. Each individual employee’s emotional climate can be easily influenced by everyone else’s. Often when we’re stressed, we’re blinded to the way we express ourselves and how we affect others.
The Enneagram maps out what we do when we are in ‘stress’ and when we are in ‘growth.’ The system gives us ‘warning signs’ to help us recognise when we are not acting in a healthy way. When we’re aware of how we think and act in stress, we can better manage the way we act out. In addition to this, it gives us the tools to have empathy and understanding towards fellow co-workers when they are acting out in stress.
3. It helps employees be better communicators.
The Enneagram can help employees to become better communicators. Each number of the Enneagram has completely unique ways of understanding the world, and this affects how we view communication.
For example, in a conflict, Type Nines prefer to avoid the confrontation almost indefinitely until they feel prepared. In contrast, Type Eights are constantly ready to fight, wanting to reach a resolution as quickly as possible.
In the scale of small business, communication needs to be efficient and conflict kept at a minimum. To achieve this, employees need to understand the different ways of seeing the world and the styles of communication most effective for each Enneagram Type.
4. It makes for better leaders.
The ability to understand viewpoints outside of our own is a trait of good leadership. The Enneagram gives those in leadership the tools to understand what motivates those they are leading. Certain types, for example, thrive on recognition and affirmation of their work while others thrive on being given the freedom to be creative.
The Enneagram gives leaders in small businesses insight into what their employees may be hesitant, or simply unable, to communicate.
5. It is an accessible resource.
Culture is often de-prioritised when trying to keep a small business afloat. It can be overlooked because of how naturally it seems to come to small businesses- the result of a tight-knit group of people working in close proximity and driven by similar forces.
Additionally, in small businesses, resources are limited. HR and personal development activities can be a pricey and seemingly secondary expense. There are a multitude of online Enneagram resources that are free and incredibly helpful. You can take the test here: FREE ENNEAGRAM TEST! The Enneagram Institute is a resource that helps to map out the basics of the Enneagram. Additionally, there is a huge social media community dedicated to coaching people in understanding themselves and others through the lens of the Enneagram. On Instagram, simply explore the hashtag #enneagram for accounts focused on personal and professional development.
No matter what kind of business you have, if you want to thrive and grow, working with the Enneagram can help you and your team achieve its best results.