Teams and the Enneagram

Almost everyone who works in an organization works within a team context at least some of the time. In fact, most people are members of multiple teams – for example, an individual might be part of a work unit, a committee, and a project team. Working with others in a team setting is always more complex than working alone because teamwork involves a great deal of interpersonal interaction, communication, and coordination. These factors can make being part of a team challenging and sometimes frustrating, but at the same time highly rewarding.

The Enneagram can be extraordinarily helpful in the creation and development of high-performing teams. First, when all of the team's members know their Enneagram styles, they can use this knowledge to improve their personal effectiveness as well as to adjust their interpersonal behaviors to the styles of the other team members. Knowledge of the Enneagram also increases team members' understanding and compassion. Instead of interpreting and misinterpreting someone else's behavior based on one's own frame of reference, team members can begin to view other members from a more objective and accurate perspective. In addition, knowledge of the Enneagram can assist both team members and leaders in developing team goals and interdependencies, as well as in expanding the repertoire of team-based roles and behaviors over the stages of team development.

Because teams are complex and dynamic, they cannot be understood from a single perspective or at only one moment in time. Teams must be considered from multiple perspectives or frameworks, including: team goals, team interdependence, team roles, and stages of team development.

This section includes the following:
The Enneagram styles of team members directly affect their idea of optimal team goals, the levels of team interdependence they prefer, the roles they play within teams, and how they behave during the four stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, and performing. Knowing this information helps individual team members take more responsibility for their behavior and encourages them to expand their patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving for the overarching benefit of team productivity and success.



Team Goals and Enneagram Styles

To be a team, rather than just a work group, teams must have a minimum of one common team goal, and the more goals the team has in common, the more teamwork is required. Common goals that are shared and agreed upon by team members make the difference between an aligned versus an unaligned team.

arrows teams

Each of us has expectations based on our Enneagram style of what ideal team goals should be. The more our expectations are met, the greater our satisfaction with the team.

Preferred Team Goals by Enneagram Style
1
Clear, realistic, and purposeful
2
Common and meaningful, utilizing the talents of others
3
Specific, measurable goals linked to individual and organizational success
4
Significant and challenging, broad in scope, with specific benchmarks
5
Precise, concrete, useful, and manageable
6
Substantial and meaningful for both the team and individuals
7
Stimulating, energizing, visionary, and action oriented
8
Reflect the big picture and move the organization
9
Concrete and meaningful, developed by consensus

    Remember, team members of all nine styles…
  • Like team goals, because these focus the work of all team members and provide a way for all members to be allied with the larger team efforts
  • Become energized by team goals that are linked to an important organizational or social purpose
  • Work best from clear, actionable goals
  • Feel motivated when they see results from their work

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Team Interdependence and Enneagram Styles


Individuals of each Enneagram style have different preferences regarding how dependent they want to be on other people's work performance.

interdependance

Some prefer low interdependence, akin to that of a golf team; some prefer medium interdependence, as on a baseball team; and others prefer high interdependence, as on a basketball team.

Preferred Team Interdependence by Enneagram Style
1
Unambiguous interdependence with competent and responsible team members
2
Moderate to high interdependence in a warm, supportive environment
3
Clear lines of interdependence, appropriate to the task, with focused, capable team members
4
Interdependence that allows independence in a self-expressive and creative environment
5
Low interdependence, high degree of autonomy, with capable and efficient team members
6
Moderate to high interdependence in a like-minded, capable, and loyal team
7
Fluid roles in a democratic, stimulating, and productive environment
8
Interconnections that allow for own territory, with effective, enjoyable team members
9
Interdependence with specific tasks in a stable, harmonizing environment

    The more our preferences match the team's current level of interdependence, the greater our satisfaction with the team. However, almost everyone will support a team's optimal level of interdependence even if it doesn't match their personal preference, as long as they understand the rationale behind it.

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Team Roles and Enneagram Styles


team roles


Without usually realizing they are doing so, most individuals on teams play specific team roles related to both the task and the relationship (including team processes) within the team. These roles, which can support the team's high performance and also detract from it, are related to the member's Enneagram styles, as seen below:

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Please click a number to see the information for the corresponding style.


Enneagram Style One
Common Task Role Definition
Structuring tasks and giving opinions Making suggestions about how to organize work and stating clear positions about items under discussion
Common Relationship Role Definition
Suggesting norms (working agreements) Offering ideas about how the team can operate more effectively, such as ideas about timeliness, decision making, etc.
Enneagram Style Two
Common Task Role Definition
Soliciting information Seeking information from others related to the task about topics such as what, how, why, when, and who
Common Relationship Role Definition
Encouraging participation Soliciting (both verbally and nonverbally) everyone's participation
Enneagram Style Three
Common Task Role Definition
Defining goals and tracking tasks Helping articulate and clarify the team's concrete goals and deliverables and demonstrating knowledge of how the team is progressing with regard to work and what is needed to move the task along
Common Relationship Role Definition
Facilitating to move the process ahead Summarizing, synthesizing, cajoling, probing, charting, and other behaviors designed to move the process ahead
Enneagram Style Four
Common Task Role Definition
Managing the agenda Commenting and influencing the team with regard to whether the important items are on the agenda, how the team is working through the agenda, and how the items are prioritized
Common Relationship Role Definition
Expressing feelings Sharing own emotions with the team or helping others to do this
Enneagram Style Five
Common Task Role Definition
Managing resources Paying attention to and monitoring the team's resources, such as time, money, staffing, and materials
Common Relationship Role Definition
Providing perspective Stating complex issues in a larger and more objective context so that alternative views and courses of action can be considered
Enneagram Style Six
Common Task Role Definition
Evaluating information Reacting to and evaluating ideas and information presented by others
Common Relationship Role Definition
Playing devil's advocate Articulating obstacles that need to be considered or overcome
Enneagram Style Seven
Common Task Role Definition
Generating and elaborating on ideas Bringing up new ideas and providing additional input to an idea already under discussion
Common Relationship Role Definition
Relieving tension Using humor or other behavior designed to reduce team tension
Enneagram Style Eight
Common Task Role Definition
Defining larger purpose Stating or helping the team clarify its charter and purpose
Common Relationship Role Definition
Challenging Confronting, questioning, and asking direct questions or making direct statements
Enneagram Style Nine
Common Task Role Definition
Giving information Providing others with information related to the task, such as information about what, how, why, when, and who
Common Relationship Role Definition
Harmonizing team interactions and facilitating the positive resolution of conflict Helping people get along, feel comfortable, connect with others, and achieve consensus and drawing out the feelings and perspectives of others in relation to conflict and facilitating its constructive resolution





Once team members become more aware of the roles they play on teams, they can expand their role-based behavior. When this occurs, the dynamics of the team change and often do so quite dramatically, engendering breakthroughs in solving old problems and creating far more creativity and innovation.

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Stages of Team Development and Enneagram Styles


Four Stages of Team Development
team developmentA team in the Forming stage orients itself in three areas: team goals or tasks, team membership, and leadership. After a team has formed, conflict often emerges as the team goes through the Storming stage. The conflict may be mild, moderate, or extreme. During this stage, tension may arise between the team and the leader or between team members regarding the team's direction and ways of structuring the work. Underlying these tensions are issues of influence and control, as well as such other factors as values, perceptions, and opinions.

As teams resolve these conflicts, they evolve to the third stage, Norming. During this stage, teams develop consensual working agreements, or norms; these may be solutions to points of prior disagreement or suggestions for improving other areas of team effectiveness. During the fourth and final stage, Performing, the team becomes extremely productive, displaying team synergy and high morale. These four stages are developmental; issues in one stage require resolution before the team can move successfully to the next stage. Teams may also revert back to a prior stage when unresolved issues arise or new challenges appear. Some teams never develop beyond the first two stages.

    Forming  —  Who are we, and where are we going?
    Storming  —  Can't we all just get along?
    Norming   How do we get out of this mess?
    Performing  —  Let's soar!
Team members of the nine Enneagram styles behave in relatively predictable ways at each stage of team development, and these typical behaviors can either support or hinder the team's progress to the next stage of development. When team members become aware of these behaviors, they can then choose to continue what they are doing or in many cases, expand their repertoire of behavior to accelerate the team's progress.

As an example, at the forming stage of team development, teams deal with successfully addressing two main questions, one related to the team's task and the other related to the team's relationships. The task question is this: Do we all understand and agree on our team's charter (purpose), goals, and deliverables and do we have the resources to achieve our goals? The relationship question is different: Have we spent the time to get to know one another and to learn the strengths of each member so that everyone feels he or she is a valued member of this team?

The following chart describes how individuals of each Enneagram style tend to behave at the forming stage:

Common Behavior at Forming Stage of Team Development
1
Task focused, with minimal need for social connection; may suggest ways to structure the work
2
Encourage people's contributions; facilitate organizing team around a central purpose
3
Seek team approval early; may assert themselves in order to define goals
4
Focus on own internal feelings in relation to the team more than on the task
5
Social connections feel frivolous, yet necessary; strong preference for a focus on goals
6
Prefer watching the team's dynamics, but will clarify issues or ensure vulnerable members get heard
7
Contribute ideas about larger vision; dislike too much structure; can get impatient with lack of progress
8
Either suggest direction for the team or pull back and watch, deciding whether to be part of the team
9
Have difficulty focusing if progress is slow; may become impatient


As you read about the behavior of the nine styles and compare these to the two questions teams must address in order to move to the next stage of development, you can see that while individuals of some Enneagram styles emphasize finding answers to the task question confronting teams (that is, styles 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8), but fewer of the Enneagram styles focus on addressing the relationship question facing teams (that is, styles 2 and possibly 6). In addition, individuals of many styles become impatient when the forming process takes, in their opinion, longer than it should (that is, styles 7, 8, and 9).

However, when team members are able to understand the importance of addressing the task and relationship issues of the forming stage and realize how their own individual behavior may support or impede the team's progress, they are able to expand their range of task and relationship behavior and also gain more patience for the forming process, which actually goes faster and better when each team member contributes fully.


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