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Using Enneagram Triads To Develop Teams: Part 1
Using Enneagram Triads To Develop Teams: Part 1

What to do if your team is lacking representation from one or more of the Enneagram triads.

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Written by Team
Updated over a week ago

The Enneagram Triads provide a great way to gain insight on the communication and relationship patterns within a team or organization. First, let’s do a little review:

Heart Triad: The Heart Triad consists of 2s, 3s, and 4s.

These teammates primarily experience life through a filter of feelings and respond based on their feelings in the moment. They see the world with an added relational intelligence, and can use the feelings of others as data points for evaluating different situations.

Head Triad: The Head Triad consists of 5s, 6s, and 7s.

These teammates primarily make decisions by analyzing all pieces of information before moving forward. They are intentional to confirm information is trustworthy and that it won't come back to bite them later. These teammates want to understand all that there is to know about a topic, staying up to date on current findings, and discovering new ways of approaching problems

Gut Triad: The Gut Triad consists of 8s, 9s and 1s.

These teammates are concerned with justice and seek independence, which leads them to honor what is fair and to desire freedom in their work. These teammates don't like others dictating their decisions or trying to change the team culture that they've intentionally developed

This article will be one in a series that helps coaches, consultants and leaders to utilize the Enneagram triads in coaching sessions, team meetings, workshops, off-sites and more.

We will explore different scenarios and patterns you might see with regards to how team members are distributed across the three triads, and how to bring the strengths and opportunities for growth each distribution provides, to the surface.

Let’s dig into one possible scenario you might find.

Scenario 1: Less than 10% of the team resides within a triad OR a triad is missing representation completely.

If a team is missing a triad completely, this is a great opportunity to take a deep dive into who is filling the gaps that the particular missing triad brings to the team.

For example, if the team is entirely divided between the Gut and Head triad, you want to use some probing questions to discover who is providing that necessary Heart triad perspective.

Look at the strengths section of the missing triad, in the case of this example, the Heart Triad:

  • When making decisions, the 2s, 3s, and 4s of the Heart Triad are driven to succeed and also provide success for others, choosing a course of action that most aligns with the mission.

    Their intuitive awareness of others' feelings and perceptions serves their focus on the audience experience. These teammates are good at bringing empathy and compassion to every situation, and can be especially helpful in understanding the most important needs of a project and its stakeholders.

Design appropriate coaching questions and conversation starters relative to the strengths:

  • When you make decisions, describe how you incorporate the mission of your organization into your process?

  • Share some specific examples of how you’ve infused empathy into your team communications.

  • What positive or constructive feedback have you received within your team or from those you manage about your ability to communicate in a way that leaves people feeling valued?

Where is the biggest opportunity to include more awareness of the employee experience?

  • What does that look like?

  • What actions are associated with leveraging this opportunity?

  • Who will be accountable for ensuring any actions associated with this opportunity are taken?

  • Is any additional training or development needed here (i.e. Emotional Intelligence for Leaders)

Once you develop these questions or conversation starters, you can use them in the context of several types of meetings, gatherings or coaching sessions.

  • Team Coaching Sessions: Use these questions to run a 30-60 minute segment of a team coaching session that results in actionable steps a team can take to compensate for the low representation of a triad. Identify any current projects or initiatives where this is most relevant.

  • Team Meetings: As a manager or leader, use this insight as a professional development section of a team meeting or offsite, giving team members an opportunity to work ON their performance instead of IN the day-to-day tasks, ask for team members to contribute to how these conversations can be actionable.

  • Team Workshops: You can run an entire ½ day or full day workshop just on unpacking Enneagram at the individual and team level. For example, in a team workshops, you can break out into smaller groups and have each group come up with the answers to the questions you design and then report out to the group. Have the entire group vote on action items or opportunities that can have the most impact and set up follow up check points to monitor growth.

    • Facilitator Tip: If you have the groups do this on LARGE sticky poster paper, have them placed around the room after the large group report out. Give each person a set of adhesive colored dots and have them place them next to the actions or ideas that they think would make the most difference for the team or organization.

Click here for Part 2 of this series.

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