Enneagram in the Workplace: What Number Are You?


Read Time: 10 Min

We all have something that motivates our behavior, whether it be knowledge, success, or right versus wrong, it’s in there, deeeep in our subconscious, planted from childhood.

Learning what motivates you can lead to a deeper understanding of your human psyche, and ultimately make you a more understanding, empathetic, and patient person — that’s where the Enneagram comes in. Since as early as the 4th-century, mystics, healers, spiritual leaders, and many others, have used the Enneagram as a tool in self-discovery.

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The Enneagram is a personality typing that focuses on motivations and how people interpret the world. There are 9 basic types, and while you may carry traits of each type, you will only gravitate toward one.

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I’m no expert, and I’m far from a place of self-understanding that one would hope to reach in their lifetime, but I have a few bits of information to share with you. Information that might get you thinking about how you function as your own person, and how you might be more empathetic to your coworkers, bosses, and employees if you can understand how they function.

I presented the Enneagram to my coworkers a few weeks ago and watched as they became fascinated and excited by the concept and its benefits to our workplace. Since then, they’ve each worked on their own Enneagram journey, while keeping in mind how their coworkers function. Below, you’ll discover for yourself who each Enneagram number is, and ways in which you can encourage them so they feel seen, heard, and understood in the workplace.

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So, let’s get into it!

Enneagram One: The Perfectionist

Who are they?
Enneagram 1’s are extremely ethical, dedicated, and reliable. They have a very strong moral compass and navigate their life through a lens of right versus wrong. Their key motivation is to be right. They have an inner critic that is always telling them they are not good enough, and in an effort to silence that critic, they settle for doing things correctly.

Say you are going for a hike with your friend who is an Enneagram 1. They would be the friend looking at the signage displayed at the trailhead that reads “No Fires, Stay on the Trail, Keep Dog on Leash,” and follow those rules to a T. If you brought your dog, you can bet they’ll make sure that leash is fastened securely to his collar.

In the Workplace
Since Enneagram 1’s rely so heavily on right and wrong, they can often get stuck in that mindset. In the workplace, they may need help re-focusing and being told they are doing a ‘good job’ rather than a ‘correct job.’ Since they often feel like they try harder than others to do things correctly, 1’s may be hesitant to delegate work — they know they’ll do it right, don’t be offended. 1’s are incredible workers, they will always make sure your company is compliant with industry rules and ensure tasks get done on time.


Enneagram Two: The Helper

Who are they?
If I could only tell you one thing about Enneagram 2’s, it would be that they need to be needed. They are empathetic and warm-hearted and their key motivation is to be loved and to get others to respond to them. They are often accused of being overly emotional and anxious, but at the end of the day, they have the best interest of others in mind.

If your Enneagram 2 friend is joining you on your hike, they may ask you if you need anything or any help prepping for the hike beforehand. After the hike, they’ll offer to unload your car, clean it, and make sure everyone gets food and water.

In the Workplace
Since Enneagram 2s love people, it may be the best use of their skills to put them in positions in which they have lots of contact with other people. Because of their care, it’s important not to take their kindness for granted. They are a great person to go to if you want to find out how other people in your organization are doing — they always know.


Enneagram Three: The Achiever

Who are they?
Enneagram 3s aren’t called ‘The Achiever’ for nothing. They are extremely success-oriented and wired for productivity. Their key motivations are to distinguish themselves from others, achieve success, and to be admired. They fear being worthless and in response are driven to always be the best. They are great leaders because they know how to take charge and bring a project or event to a successful place.

If you take an Enneagram 3 on your hike, they will certainly be the first to the top of the mountain, and they will think they won something, even if you weren’t racing.

In the Workplace
If nothing else, 3s will be your most productive, efficient, and accomplished coworker. Help them get there by giving them goals to strive for and win. Because of their drive to be successful, they can often succumb to workaholism — make sure they don’t. Remind them that they are great beyond their work or accomplishments, they will look down on themselves very easily if faced with failure or disappointment.


Enneagram Four: The Individual

Who are they?
Enneagram 4s are the most rare number. They are extremely introspective, sensitive, and tend to be moody. They are comfortable sitting in melancholy. They want to express their individuality, be creative, and surround themselves with beauty. It is their greatest motivation to avoid being ordinary. They are very reserved and tend to avoid social situations.

If you invited your Enneagram 4 friend on a hike, they may not come. If they do, they’ll most likely stay removed from the group, admiring the flora and fauna and the natural beauty of the world.

In the Workplace
Enneagram 4s tend to bring a lot of creative juice to the table. They don’t care if you don’t use their ideas, but they want to make sure their ideas have been heard and understood. Don’t put them in roles that may come across mundane, they want to have a big hand in the creative direction of a project. It may be in your best interest to involve them in meetings outside of their department, they may often see surprising connections others would have missed.


Enneagram 5: The Investigator

Who are they?
Enneagram 5s are analytical, perceptive, innovative, and tend to be isolated. They don’t want to have to depend on others, so they always make sure they have adequate resources and the information they need to be prepared. They need to understand their environment and have everything figured out as a way of defending themselves. Their greatest fear is being incapable.

On your hike, an Enneagram 5 is going to be the one who over-prepared. They know the exact route, every stopping point, and how long it will take to get to the top.

In the Workplace
Because Enneagram 5s don’t love to be in social situations, try to avoid involving them in group decisions or discussions unless it is absolutely necessary. They like to be overly prepared, so if you are expecting them to give a presentation, give them plenty of time to prepare.


Enneagram 6: The Loyalist

Who are they?
Enneagram 6s are the most loyal Enneagram number, and in return they like to feel supported and secure. They are usually very suspicious, always thinking of the ways in which something might go wrong so they can be prepared to overcome it (a.k.a. Worst-case-scenario thinkers). They are known for their steadfastness, and in a group of friends, they are the glue that holds everyone together.

On your hike, an Enneagram 6 would think up every possible scenario where something might go wrong — a bear attack, falling off the mountain, running out of water, you name it. But despite their fear, they will never leave your side.

In the Workplace
Because 6s operate under fear of the worst-case-scenario, they love order, consistency, and the comfort of clearly defined rules of operation. Enneagram 6s may express a lot of doubt, don’t scold them for it, encourage them and make them feel confident in their role.


Enneagram 7: The Enthusiast

Who are they?
They are, simply put, a ball of fun. With Enneagram 7s, there’s no shortage of activities to partake in, fun conversation to be had, and positivity to go around. They are fun and spontaneous, adventurous and happy. They like to keep themselves excited and occupied, but that can sometimes lead to impulsiveness, and scattered thinking. 7s do anything they can to avoid pain.

Your Enneagram 7 friend is going to be the most excited to join your hike. In fact, they may suggest you do more than one, or at least head to get food and drinks afterwards. They’ll want to keep the fun going all day long!

In the Workplace
Enneagram 7s can become very scatterbrained, their enthusiasm often leads to a misuse of their talents. Hold them accountable for their job, but also allow them a long leash. They need that balance of firmness and flexibility. 7s are terrific team players, so you can rely on them to keep everyone happy and excited about their work.


Enneagram 8: The Challenger

Who are they?
Enneagram 8s are the most fierce of the numbers. They are ready to be assertive, protective, and confrontational if they need to be. Their key motivation is to look strong and be self-reliant, to be in control and to prove their strength. The best way to describe them is having a tough exterior, but a very tender and loving heart.

An Enneagram 8 might be ready to argue which hike you choose, and they may want to take the lead climbing up the mountain, but they will fiercely defend your group and help make solid decisions.

In the Workplace
Set boundaries with an Enneagram 8. Since they like to be in control, they may come across more abrasive than they mean to be, they just want to make sure everything gets done. Keep them active and engaged but make sure you set limits for them so they don’t get overworked. Keep the lines of communication open, it helps to avoid conflicts and any uncomfortable confrontation.


Enneagram 9: The Peacemaker

Who are they?
Unlike Enneagram 8s, Enneagram 9s avoid conflict as if their life depended on it. They do everything in their power to keep the peace and resist what would upset or disturb them. They are laid back, agreeable, pleasant, and accommodating. Although they are the most stubborn number on the Enneagram, they are happy to go along with what others want to do.

That being said, your Enneagram 9 friend will do whatever hike you want to do, whenever you want to do it. They will avoid argument so if you ask their opinion on something, they will say they don’t care. Burgers for lunch after the hike? Fine with me! Making the hike a little longer? Fine with me!

In the Workplace
Enneagram 9s love routine, it’s comforting and expected — give them a healthy routine. They can sometimes get lost doing trivial tasks and putting off the things that really need to get done, help them avoid that by offering a limited menu of tasks. Finally, put them in places where they can help mend fences or build bridges — let them use their gift for peacemaking.


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The Enneagram is a complex personality typing based on motivations. It even goes much deeper than that, getting into wings, triads, orientation to time, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about the Enneagram, please do! It is a wonderful tool for self-development, becoming a better listener and friend, growing in your career, and becoming an overall better person. It takes understanding each number deeply to learn how to best interact with your peers. After reading this insight, you should be able to figure out what number you are. If not, there are many resources online, podcasts, books, workshops, and more that you can lean on. If you take nothing else away from this insight, at least take away this: no one is the same. Everyone has their own way of thinking, their own way of understanding the world, and their own way of coping with it — be empathetic, be patient, be understanding.


About the Author
Meet Sav, AOR’s newest Copywriter! Passionate about storytelling, Sav finds that understanding human motivation and behavior is important and deeply rooted in writing and creative marketing. Over the last few years, she has dedicated time to understanding the Enneagram and learning how to apply it to her life and professional career, she hopes you can do the same.

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