The moment Eunice Chen stepped in front of the class, the bright-eyed participants of the “360° Communication with Enneagram” workshop got all pumped up. The workshop was co-organised on June 5 and 6 by Classified Post and Kornerstone, an institute of corporate and professional development in Hong Kong. Its primary aim was to help course participants understand the hidden characteristics of the nine major groups under the Enneagram system.
Chen is a certified professional trainer of the Enneagram – an ancient method that assesses personality based on nine major types. A master trainer at Kornerstone, Chen has spent years studying about people and assessing personality traits. She believes that human nature is so complex that a person may not fully understand his real personality in his lifetime.
Personality tests have become increasingly popular around the world as an alternative way of assessing job applicants’ personal characteristics.
The business application of personality tests has benefited managers and companies, helping them cope with management challenges through a better understanding of staff.
Many organisations and major corporations, such as Apple Computer, Boeing, Disney, General Motors and even the CIA, use various personality tests in their hiring practices for effective communication and human resource (HR) management purposes.
The Enneagram system, which has over 2,500 years of history, is one of the more popular personality tests. It can help assess a person’s aptitudes for different jobs so that the recruiter can narrow down the search to a few suitable candidates. “It’s about helping people see themselves and the world around them more clearly,” Chen says.
One of the course participants was Benjamin Tang, an experienced IT professional. He says the workshop provided him with the right tools to know himself better. “Everything we do involves dealing with people, so it’s vital to have a better understanding of oneself and the many different types of people and their needs,” he says.
The course proved useful as it provided Tang with psychological insights about people. “I think most of us have a fairly good understanding of ourselves, but often we just need help to clarify some uncertain areas. The course provided insights into ourselves and helped us discover our strengths and weaknesses. It’s a bit like a self-help mental fitness course,” he says.
Tang likened his participation to being sent on a journey to look at himself and others from a totally different perspective.
The Enneagram focuses on selfunderstanding and one’s relationship with family, friends and colleagues. This system provides a path that leads to selfimprovement, a process that starts with self-understanding and progresses to self-acceptance. Then one sees some improvement, and eventually he reaches his full potential.
Once the person has completed the cycle, he can then proceed to help others by encouraging and motivating them to achieve similar results in the personal arena.
Steve Man, an HR professional, says he still finds himself inadequately equipped to deal with people on both personal and professional levels even after 20 years in the HR industry.
“No matter how much I read about communication or how many courses I sign up to, I never seem to feel satisfied and always feel the need to learn more,” he says, adding that the two-day course emphasises persuasive communication, which he thinks is the fundamental component that brings benefits.
“Human beings are highly complex creatures and the Enneagram system explains [this complexity] in a very clear and structured way,” Man says.
He believes this can lead to self-reflection, then self-understanding and finally self-actualisation.
“The workshop has helped me learn more about people and myself and how to use that knowledge to get support from others by winning their hearts,” he adds.
Teacher Brian Tse says the Enneagram workshop was different from other self-improvement courses he had taken.
“This course took me to a journey of self-reflection so that I could analyse myself and then bring about a complete change. Unlike other courses, it covered more than just the basics. It gave me a 360-degree view of myself and a tremendous power to change for the better.”
Tse says that he used to feel slightly inadequate in meeting his professional goals.
“There was always something missing and for that reason I kept signing up for courses, hoping to find an answer to that. Now I have been enlightened. I am better equipped to understand myself. It’s a very positive beginning,” he says.
According to Chen, who is also a director at Apex Institute, when applied in the workplace, the Enneagram is a highly effective and comprehensive compatibility test. It can promote personal growth and build mutual trust.
Furthermore, it can be applied to stress management, performance coaching, team management and conflict resolution. When combined with executive coaching, the Enneagram can be a great tool in grooming leaders, as well as in providing a comprehensive evaluation of high-performers.
“When it comes to work, I always know my strengths and what I need to succeed, but somehow I never seem to get it 100 per cent right because something is always missing,” Tse says.
“The Enneagram training provided me with the right information to fill that gap. Now I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses and I know how to present myself. I can maximise the good points and gloss over the bad ones,” he says.