three woman having a meeting in an office

I have always loved a good personality test (I remember, at eight years old, taking the ones written by American Girl).  I believe that reliable personality tests can help us learn how to use our strengths well and improve our weaknesses. Recently, I’ve been learning more about the Enneagram personality test. When I started reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery, I assumed it would cover how the Enneagram works in relationships and personal struggles, but I was surprised to find sections on how each of the Nine Enneagram Types (often referred to as numbers) function in the workplace. I learned about the typical work environments, popular occupation choices, and various work habits of each number. I began talking to friends who saw these different elements in themselves and their work, and I was intrigued by the connection.

As my interest grew, I decided to write a three-part blog series (as the numbers are typically divided into three groups of three) on Enneagram numbers and their functions in the workplace—specifically on how you can maximize your strengths, and improve your weaknesses, to be more effective at work. I drew research from The Road Back to You, online articles, and experiences by trusted colleagues and friends. Please note that I am not insinuating that every aspect of your number will line up with your personality. Instead, I would challenge you to dig into learning about the Enneagram for yourself and seeing if you can find ways to maximize your contributions and be more self-aware in your workplace. You may identify pieces of yourself in each type, but typically, one stands out above the rest. Also, I cover an overview of the strengths and weaknesses I researched, but again, I would urge you to learn more information on your own. And before I dig in, if you have never taken the test before, I challenge you to check out the Bonus Content to find links to the test, along with more Enneagram introductory resources!

Type 2: The Helper

Type 3: The Performer

Type 4: The Romantic


TYPE 2: The Helper

woman helping another woman with her computerOverview: “Helpers” are known for being caring people who will go to the ends of the earth to help others. They are generous with their time, resources, and in their efforts to care for others. Cheerful and likable, twos are an interpersonal type and are kind, positive, supportive…probably the ones sitting at your softball game with a sign in the stands, cheering you on. However, they have a fear of being unwanted and unloved, which frequently causes them to work for love, be over-the-top people-pleasers, and possessive.

Strengths in the Workplace: Twos are lovers of people, so they will likely be supportive of coworkers. They often work in positions that have constant contact with others since they are so relational. Twos are champions of collaboration and enjoy working on teams; they don’t have to be the highest in command, but as Ian Morgan Cron puts it, “They know sergeants run armies, not generals…they’re more than happy to be the power behind the throne.” When they are leaders, they know how to motivate those they manage, and they are highly image-conscious.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • Sensing other’s needs and letting them know how valued they are.
  • Using encouragement and praise to inspire and motivate coworkers or direct reports to get the job done.
  • Bringing a sense of rapport to your office community.
  • Using your image-consciousness to find ways to make your organization stand out.

doctor and nurse talking to a patientChallenges in the Workplace: Because Twos are giving, they forget to tend to their own needs and will take on helping others tackle their projects, which later leads to stress as they take on more than they can possibly handle. They forget to set personal boundaries because of their desire to help everyone. They also have a fear of disappointing their bosses and fellow coworkers and can take criticism personally.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Accepting criticism gracefully. Be self-aware enough to not take criticism personally; instead, use it as a tool for growth.
  • Setting healthy boundaries to get your tasks done. Tend to your own needs and allow others to help you! Consider having an accountability partner who makes sure you don’t take on too much.
  • Avoid letting yourself be vulnerable to the fear of disappointment, both in yourself and to others. It’s ok to have goals and to strive for them.

Popular Career Choices: Type Twos desire careers where they can care for others and show compassion. They are drawn to professions like registered nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers, professors, ministers, non-profit leaders, and counselors.

“I relate so much to the Type Two Enneagram. I love writing letters of encouragement to my students and co-workers and celebrating others! I also struggle with stretching myself too thin and am learning to let people know up-front, instead of in the long run, when I can’t give 100 percent to my commitment. I’m learning the importance of personal boundaries—it’s the small wins!” —An Enneagram Type 2 Teacher


TYPE 3: The Performer

a computer screen with the words do more on itPerformers are an adaptable, driven, and competitive type who are ambitious and energetic. Image-oriented and success-driven, they are typically confident, charismatic, and charming. When at their best, they’re generous, poised, authentic, and want to use their skills to make a difference. Threes can struggle with a sad restlessness when they are unhealthy, living in a constant state of striving for perfection and achievement, and are pragmatic. They struggle with caring too much of what others think of them, workaholism, and masking their feelings to “keep it all together.”

Strengths in the Workplace: Because they crave achievement and recognition, Type Threes give 110 percent at their jobs. They often are visionary leaders and extraordinary builders who are highly productive and get things done. They are efficient and aim to see measurable results in their work. Because they are so adaptive and attuned to what others want from them, Threes know exactly what to say to inspire others. They want to make good impressions and are image-conscious, meaning they will put their best foot forward to make their organization look good to the public.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • “Reading the room” and understanding what will work for the audience you are catering to; doing so will leave a good impression.
  • Using hard work and determination to keep projects moving forward.
  • Using your leadership skills, enthusiasm, and passion to motivate and inspire others.
  • Using your image-consciousness to find ways to make your organization stand out.

a man buttoning his suit coatChallenges in the Workplace: Because Threes are so goal-oriented, they can struggle with impatience and feeling like they are wasting time if there are any “lulls” in their day. They also use work to disconnect from their feelings; as Cron states, it’s as if they say, “I’m going to slip this into my ‘Feelings to Deal with Later’ file.” They often hunt for external validation and tend to focus on personal advancement over helping their team, even when the latter would be more efficient. And because they are so efficiency-driven, they may tend to cut corners in some areas and potentially hurt the quality of their work.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Practicing patience when interacting with others, avoiding aggressiveness, and allowing yourself to “waste time” if it means that you are investing in others/building relationships.
  • Making sure that you don’t bury yourself in work simply to avoid conflict or processing emotions in a healthy way.
  • Using your skills to help others when needed rather than focusing solely on personal advancement. Others more than likely admire you; use that to help others and, in turn, help your organization.
  • Using caution to avoid cutting corners for the sake of expediency in your work.

Popular Career Choices: Type Threes thrive in jobs where they are the center of the attention and there are elements of competition. They also love to be in roles where they can motivate others to achieve their potential. Performers are great salespeople, coaches, lawyers, entertainers, politicians, athletes, top executives, and marketers.

“As a business owner, I’m only accountable to myself for many of my goals, so being self-driven and working hard toward each goal I want to accomplish is really important to me. I also want to use my leadership skills to inspire others and impact my clients. I have struggled with feeling like I am wasting time when there are “lulls” in my day, but I have realized that time spent building relationships with others instead of working is not time wasted!” —An Enneagram Type 3 Photographer


TYPE 4: The Romantic

a woman listening to another woman intentlyAlso dubbed as “The Individualist,” Fours are creative, self-aware, and reserved. Much of their time is spent thinking about the deeper aspects of life, as Fours are typically introspective. Their feelings form the basis of their identity; Fours feel and embellish their emotions on a much deeper level than other numbers and are emotionally honest. Sensitive, temperamental, and dramatic, Fours are an oxymoron in that they struggle with envy and a desire to fit in, but their greatest need is to secure an authentic identity by being entirely unique and distinguished from everyone else. They typically struggle with overwhelming feelings of melancholy, self-indulgence, disdain, and self-pity.

Strengths in the Workplace: The creativity and passionate nature of Fours carries over into the workplace. They use creativity and high emotional intelligence to discover the hidden potential in situations and other people. They also use their passion to inspire others and bring people together to collaborate. They are natural problem solvers and are often the easiest people to talk to in the workplace, especially when navigating conflict. They make decisions based on intuition.

Make use of your strengths by:

  • Contributing to organizations in meaningful ways using your creative gifts and passions.
  • Bringing people together to create a climate of collaboration rather than competition in your organization.
  • Using your emotional intelligence to help others navigate through conflict.
  • Using your natural problem-solving skills and unique perspectives to find creative solutions that your organization needs.

a female artist paintingChallenges in the Workplace: Fours want to feel fulfilled, so they struggle with finishing what they consider to be “mundane tasks” and working under rules and regulations. They fear that structure will limit their creative freedom. Fours easily overcommit to many tasks, and because they care deeply about emotional health, they often carry the burdens of those that they work with.

Challenge yourself and grow in weakness by:

  • Being open to completing what you view as a “mundane task” when needed; you are still contributing to your organization.
  • Committing to finding daily structure in your work life. You may find that you experience more creative freedom with guidelines.
  • Leaving work problems at work when you go home, as you carry burdens easily. Remember that it’s not your job to carry the emotional burdens of all your coworkers.
  • Checking to see if you have overcommitted yourself when you feel stressed. If you have overcommitted yourself, prioritize tasks and come back to less urgent ones when you have more time and mental energy; doing so will increase your creative capacity.

Popular Career Choices: Because of their creativity, Fours tend to gravitate toward creative careers. They like to be musicians, poets, fine artists, novelists, actors, and filmmakers. However, they thrive in any job where they can express creativity and their distinct style and depth to some extent. They also are comfortable helping people through painful experiences, often making great marriage therapists and counselors.

“Over the years, I have been the mediator for so many workplace conflicts because I understand how each side may be feeling and can address the emotional needs of both parties. I also highly relate to not wanting my creativity to be cloistered. I struggle with working regular 9-5 jobs because I worry that the structure and mundaneness of a routine work schedule will dampen my creative freedom and passion!” —An Enneagram 4 Yoga Teacher/Youth Pastor


BONUS CONTENT:

INTRODUCTORY RESOURCES:

  • This list has several Enneagram testing options to choose from, ranging in price from free to $60+.
  • I recommend reading The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Ian also has a podcast about the Enneagram.
  • The Enneagram Institute is an Internet hub full of Enneagram information—perfect for beginners wanting to learn more about the Enneagram.
  • If you’re more of a video person, InnerLifeSkills offers a free, 90-minute introductory Enneagram course. The course is broken down into several shorter videos so you can watch the videos over a period of time.

REFERENCES:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marah Whitaker headshot

Hi! My name is Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M). I am the Marketing Assistant for UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, I spend time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with our customer base. During my free time, you can find me getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, I aspire to live by the Mr. Feeny quote, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” I strive to use my passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around me. 

Connect with me on LinkedIn.