The Enneagram test is a personality assessment that has been used in various forms throughout history, and it is a popular choice for both recruitment and staff development.
If you are considering using the Enneagram test, then this article will briefly discuss what it is and what it can tell you about people. You will also be able to learn more about the benefits and applications of the test, and also the limitations - and then get some ideas of alternatives you could try.
Defining the Enneagram test
The Enneagram test is used to demonstrate the patterns in the way that people think about the world around them, and how they manage their emotions.
The early history of what we recognize as the Enneagram may have come from the Ancient Babylonians or classical Greek philosophy, but similar diagrams and theories have also been found in Sufism, Christian mysticism, and even the Kabbalah. The impact of the Enneagram is even in classical literature - Dante’s Divine Comedy characters can be broadly categorized into the nine types of the Enneagram.
The modern Enneagram was first introduced into the mainstream in the 1930s by a mystic and spiritual teacher called Georg Ivanovich Gurdjeff, but it was the Chilean psychiatrist Naranjo who introduced it into the field of psychology.
In today’s world, you are more likely to find the Enneagram used in workplace psychology and personal development rather than anything spiritual.
Mapped on a nine-pointed diagram, the Enneagram places each person into one of nine personality types, and shows how they are all linked to one another.
Why is the Enneagram test important?
The Enneagram test is often compared to other personality tests like Myers-Briggs, and it helps an individual to understand more about themselves and the way they view the world - and how that affects their emotional responses.
Each of the nine Types categorized by the Enneagram is defined by a core belief. This is how they think the work works, and also drives both their motivations and fears, shaping their perspective.
The diagram, the nine-pointed shape itself, is an important part of the process, because each main type is related to the types next to it (the wings) but is also related to other types in a more triangular shape.
The Enneagram holds all types as ‘equal’ - no one Type is better than another; it is simply a description of how you have been influenced by biological factors and environmental influences, things like family dynamics and the relationship that you have with your parents.
In the workplace, the Enneagram can be used to help teams work better together, to improve communication, and to provide a basis for leadership development - and it is also great for personal growth, whether in the workplace or in other parts of life.
What are the nine personality types of the Enneagram model?
Type One - The Reformer
The Reformer is a rational and idealistic type, who would be known as purposeful and self-controlled. They have a strong sense of right and wrong, and are always striving to improve.
They may have problems with impatience and resentment when others do not meet their high standard, and they might come across as too critical and perfectionistic
They want to be right and improve everything around them, and always strive to go beyond criticism.
Type Two - The Helper
The Helper is a caring Type, recognized for being generous and people-pleasing. They are self-sacrificing and warmhearted, wanting to make things better for other people over themselves.
The Type Two’s find it hard to acknowledge their own needs, and they can be possessive about the people that they care about. They fear being unwanted or unworthy of being loved.
The Helper wants to help - they want to be loved and needed, and are motivated by getting people to respond to them and appreciate them.
Type Three - The Achiever
The Achiever is a success-oriented and pragmatic Type. They come across as self-assured and charming, attractive to others and competent.
They can be competitive and overly conscious about their image - and this might make them seem as a workaholic who fears being seen as worthless.
The Achiever wants to distinguish themselves for others and be admired, ready to impress others.
Type Four - The Individualist
The Individualist is an introspective and sensitive type, who is emotionally honest and self-aware. They might be seen as uniquely talented with special gifts, especially creatively.
They can be moody and self-conscious, with a melancholy air, seeing themselves as fundamentally different from others and feeling socially awkward.
The Individualist wants to be able to express themselves and create beauty around them, taking care of their emotional needs.
Type Five - The Investigator
The Investigator is a cerebral and intense Type. They are perceptive and independent, often considered to be innovative with inventive ways to satisfy their curiosity.
They can be preoccupied with their internal thoughts, coming across as detached and highly strung, allowing isolation to prevent them from forming and maintaining relationships.
The Investigator wants to be seen as capable, and they want to have everything around them figured out so they always have something interesting and unusual to say.
Type Six - The Loyalist
The Loyalist is a committed and responsible type. They are reliable and hard-working, internally stable and self-reliant. The Loyalist will champion themselves and others, remaining loyal to their friends and their beliefs.
They can be overly cautious and indecisive and sometimes suspicious and defiant. They fear making important decisions without support and guidance.
The Loyalist wants to be supported by others, and get reassurance, with security being a great motivation for them.
Type Seven - The Enthusiast
The Enthusiast seeks variety and is a busy Type. They are playful and high-spirited, seeking new and exciting experiences, and versatile enough to be spontaneous.
They can be easily distracted, often overextending themselves through their impatience which can lead to exhaustion. They fear pain or the feeling of being deprived.
The Enthusiast wants to have their needs fulfilled, even when that need changes frequently, and they want to be free, excited and occupied.
Type Eight - The Challenger
The Challenger is a dominating and powerful Type. They are self-confident and straight-talking, resourceful and self-mastering, seeking to use their power to improve the lives of others.
They don't want to be controlled by others, and can come across as egocentric and domineering - and even confrontational and intimidating.
The Challenger wants to prove their strengths and be important, working with a steely determination to make their mark and stay in control.
Type Nine - The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker is an easygoing and agreeable Type, happy to go along with things to keep the peace and reassure others. They are often recognized for bringing people together, and are accepting and trusting.
They want to avoid loss and separation, and they can also oversimplify problems if they think it will minimize upset - this can look like stubbornness or denial, especially if they choose to run away or avoid their problems.
The Peacemaker wants to avoid conflicts and tension, creating harmony around themselves and focusing on the bright side of life to create internal and external peace.
What are the benefits of using the Enneagram test?
The Enneagram test is a great way to help develop teams, getting individuals to recognize facets of their personality and understand those of others, too.
This can help build more cohesive teams who can work better together, and ensure that there are no gaps in skill that could cause problems in the future.
The Enneagram test can also be used to help develop a leadership training program, highlighting the employees that might be more suitable for a management role.
The Enneagram test offers insights that can be used in all areas of life, not just in the workplace. Top tests (usually those that are paid for), provide lengthy insights about the individual, including helpful tips for improvement - whether that is ways to avoid the darker side of personality, or how to improve their relationships at home with family and friends.
For HR teams and managers, the results of the Enneagram are easy to use as part of team or individual development because they provide explanations as well as the basic nine-pointed diagram.
What are the limitations of the Enneagram test?
As with other personality tests, the Enneagram test does not take into account the ‘whole person’ - focusing instead on understanding just the emotional response to environmental triggers.
While this can be useful, it shouldn't be the only thing that you are considering when you are evaluating employees and potential candidates.
The other reason that the Enneagram test could have limited applications is that there are so many versions of the test available. Any online search will result in any number of tests, all claiming to give in-depth knowledge - and as a widely available entity, it is challenging to find the right one that will work for you and your business.
While the Enneagram is scientifically backed as a psychological tool, not all tests are created equal.
Should you be using the Enneagram test?
If you are considering whether you should be using the Enneagram as part of your hiring processes, there are some reasons it could make a difference, including:
Provides more data: the more data you have about a candidate, the better decisions you should be able to make. You’ll be able to understand the fears and motivations of the candidates, and see whether they would be suitable for the role based on their personality type.
Efficient interviews: understanding how a candidate prefers to communicate and what makes them tick will mean you can ask more effective questions.
Better retention: backed with science, the Enneagram test results can be used to predict employee performance and enhance retention. You’ll be able to gauge whether they will be happy with the role, and can build a positive work experience.
Don’t forget, though, that personality tests should only be a part of the pre-employment assessments if you use them - you want to make sure that you are evaluating the candidates in a more holistic way for the best results.
Alternatives to the Enneagram test
Personality tests are great ways of understanding more about candidates and employees, and there are other tests that offer similar insights.
Some of these can include:
June 30, 2023
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