How To Make Different Workplace Personalities Work - E-Mediate

How To Make Different Workplace Personalities Work

Workplace diversity has been a hot topic for a number of years, with businesses everywhere striving to be more inclusive in their recruitment of talent. Most of this effort, however, is focused on cultural diversity – ensuring a good mix of employees from different racial, religious and gender backgrounds. More recently, however, companies and HR practitioners are appreciating the immense value of having teams that are cognitively diverse too.

A fascinating study in the Harvard Business Review by researchers Alison Reynolds and David Lewis found that there was no direct correlation between “traditional” diversity within a team, and that team’s results. Where there was a noticeable improvement in performance, however, was in teams with a good mix of different personalities, perspectives and knowledge processing styles.

Cognitive diversity is essential if companies want to be more innovative and agile. People who think and behave differently bring different views and understanding to their organisation, and better reflect the different communities in which the company operates.

The key however, is knowing how to effectively tap into these differences in a positive way, avoiding destructive conflict while harnessing individual talents and traits for the good of the team.

Understanding the various behaviours and characteristics of the different personality types is how you do this.

The Nine Different Enneagram Personality Types

Type 1: Strict Perfectionist
Pefectionists value integrity and priciples. They pride themselves on their self control, and are motivated by a powerful need to be right. Healthy Type 1s are great for team dynamics, as they are tolerant, self-accepting and serene. Less healthy 1s can negatively impact a team as they tend to be judgemental, uncompromising and pedantic. This critical exterior is a direct result of their belief that they are simply not good enough.

Type 2: Considerate Helper
At their best, 2s are unconditionally supportive. They value relationships and are kind, generous and self-sacrificing. This makes them wonderful additions to any team. Some Type 2s, however, only give in order to get, making them seem manipulative and insincerely flattering. This is a direct result of their deep-rooted belief that they are simply not worthy of being loved for who they are.

Type 3: Competitive Achiever
These people want to be the best. As such, results, recognition and image are very important to them. Healthy type 3s have a positive influence on team dynamics as they are hardworking, principled and receptive. Less healthy people in this category, however, can seem self-important and inconsistent.

Type 4: Intense Creative
Type 4s value individualism, and are motivated by their need to be authentic and express their uniqueness. People experience healthy 4s as sensitive, but content. Less healthy Intense Creatives often come across as melancholic and tempermental.

Type 5: Quiet Specialist
These are people motivated by their need to know and understand, and it’s important that the world around them makes sense. They strive for independence, and are conservative of their resources to guarantee this independence in the future. They can be great team members as they are both visionary and mindful. They can also, however, be seen as intellectually arogant, stingy and emotionally detached.

Type 6: Loyal Sceptic
Type 6s are motivated by a need to be prepared and safe. They value security and belonging, and, at their best, are courageous and devoted. Less healthy 6s are prone to excessive worrying, and can come across as anxious, doubting or suspicious.

Type 7: Enthusiastic Visionary
Type 7 people are generally optimistic, believing in living life to the full and taking advantage of all opportunities. They are often playful and spontaneous, but, at their worst, can be impulsive, unfocused and uncommitted.

Type 8: Active Controller
Active Controllers are motivated by their need to be strong. They avoid showing any vulnerability, and value being direct and impactful. They love challenges, and are champions of justice. They are valuable team members as they are deeply caring and approachable. On the downside, they can come across as being aggressive and domineering.

Type 9: Adaptive Peacemaker
Nines are motivated by their need to be in harmony with the world. It’s important to them to be accommodating and accepting, preferring to avoid conflict where possible. At their best, 9s are seen as vibrant and self-aware. At their worst, they can be stubborn and procrastinating.

Regardless of which Type of person we are, our perspective is our reality. When you see a situation through someone else’s eyes, you gain a far deeper understanding of their motivations and behaviours.

To help you see just how effective Enneagram is at defining personalities, take this shortened (Start Quiz) (but highly accurate) version of our Integrative Questionnaire. You’ll receive an analysis report telling you into which of the nine personality categories you fall, and the characteristics of that personality. Once you’ve taken the test yourself, why not share it with others in your team?

If you’d like to find out more about Enneagram, and the amazing impact it can have on your team dynamics and productivity, contact Ellen Edwards on 082 940 2486, or email her at