Using the Enneagram to promote wellbeing at work

Dr Carly Steyn Cape Town Coach

Stress and its associated symptoms can prove detrimental to both the individual employee and the organisation. On the individual level, prolonged periods of stress have been linked to anxiety, depression and diminished levels of self esteem. At the organizational level, stress has been linked to withdrawal behaviours such as turnover intention, absenteeism, reduced organisational commitment and job performance.

Stress research shows that our experience of stress is largely influenced by the set of beliefs and assumptions that we hold about ourselves in relation to the environments within which we function. As a result, each person’s experience of and response to stress is different. It is therefore important that stress management programmes not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, but that they honour each individual’s stress experience instead.

The Enneagram

The Enneagram is a useful tool that can assist individuals in the management of unhealthy stress. The Enneagram is a model of human personality presented as a typology of nine interconnected personality types or ways of viewing the world. It is currently used by organisations worldwide to facilitate strategy, team and leadership development, conflict management, decision making and improved customer service.

The nine different Enneagram styles, identified as numbers one through nine, reflect distinct habits of thinking, feeling and behaving, with each style connected to a unique path of development. Due to these different patterns of thought, emotion and behavior, each Enneagram type experiences stress in a certain way. Through exposure to the Enneagram, individuals identify what drives the way they see themselves, do their work and experience stress. These insights are essential to breaking limiting habits and building flexible and effective responses to stress. Through effective coaching and guidance, individuals can then go on to develop a set of individualised coping strategies and work to transform the initial stress experience into a source of motivation and engagement.

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