Know thyself – Socrates

Michele Warg
Posted by

In searching for a life partner, one will pay close attention to see if the other person’s personality is compatible with him/her. For example, if you are someone with a short fuse and gets angry easily, you may want to find someone who is gentler, have more patience and harmonious than yourself. Or if you are a detailed type of person, scrutinizing nitty-gritty, you also tend to attract the “bigger picture” type of partner. I think there is an element of truth when they say opposites attract! How about our career? Look around you, who are those know who seems to enjoy their work very much and despite the stress/recession/bad business environment, they are passionate and energized at work. Perhaps, many would think salary is motivating factor that makes this group of people continue do what they are doing. The attraction of monetary gains in many sales jobs will entice a large pool of people to join initially. The ones that excel are those who truly believe in their profession, align their strength to do what they do best and thus achieve the rewards they rightfully deserve. Do you know what your strength is? How can you find and leverage it to achieve your goals in life? Do you have the attributes or strength stated in the Job description? A common job description for a Sales Manager may require the candidate to lead and manage sales team to achieve sales targets set up the company. How can the interviewer be assured that this candidate has this skill sets? Will his current position as a manager attest to his ability? Or does it mean if he has achieved x% for his current company translates to him being able to do the same for your organization? CV and interview (within a stipulated timeframe) reveals so much about his/her capability but not the true potential. Sadly, many employers used the same type of interview questions to assess the suitability and capability of today’s employees. To resolve these problems, many companies these days are using various Personality tools to aid their recruitment decisions. These range from the popular MBTI to Keirsey Temperament Sorter, Big 5, DISC model, to name a few. More sophisicated and creative tools are being introduced in the market but one increasingly popular tool is gaining a lot of attention recently. The Enneagram(pronounced as “Any-a-gram) is a model that describes nine different personality types and their interrelationships. Besides describing the 9 different personalities, it reveals the unconscious motivation behind our behavior. By increasing our awareness of different lens of the world each type is seeing, we can better understand ourselves better and seek more ways to manifest our true potential. Humans are creatures of Habit and years of conditioning have helped us cope very well to survive in this world with our defense mechanisms. For example, the Ones are Perfectionist and try to make everyone around them to be perfect as well. They operate from a Right/wrong, black/white mindset. Ones are fastidious workers and are afraid to make mistakes at work. Their strength is they are well-organized and orderly. Look at your colleague’s table that is spick and span with stationeries kept nicely in the holder and files neatly arranged in respective folders. Employers who knew these characteristics will know better where to deploy the Ones in the company. Due to self-critical and judgmental nature, they tend to procrastinate and delay making decisions. The manager needs to exercise caution and be aware by working along and not against their personality. Forcing a square peg into a round hole is counter-productive as it causes resistance and unnecessary friction in the workplace. The Ones will perform well in functions requiring them to constantly improve the products/services such as customer service, quality control, strategic planning, etc. Sales role require a certain routine – sales call, meeting, proposals writing, closing,etc. The sales process is repetitive with clear defined steps involved which the Ones may not truly enjoy. They will question the sales process, the CRM tool, the meetings, the pricing not competitive, the products not as good as competitor and a list of never-ending comparisons. This make the sales manager hard to manage a One, thinking he/she is negative, lack discipline or not persistent enough to achieve targets. What the manager did not realize was a difference in personality map against the role requirement. When the manager is able to align the strength of the employee with the job function, it is like a waterfall flowing downwards, natural and without resistance. This is the WIN-WIN situation that both employer and employee should strive towards. By including this transformational tool as part of the interviewing process, the employer is able to weed out candidates who on the surface may seem suitable. Conversely, those looking for job and knowing your own style will be able to align your style with the right job. Sending hundreds of resume to the same industry with the hope of getting a response may not be the wisest strategy, especially in this current financial crisis. The career one has need not be related to what one had studied in school. This is not to say Engineer grads out there start applying for Finance job and Accountancy grads going into creative arts without considering their academic skills. Some of us may elect to study a particular major because of parents and peers influence and not because you are passionate about it nor align it with your strength. When you graduate and start looking for job, you naturally/logically will choose those industries that you major in. More than a personality tool, the Enneagram when used correctly could help the person to uncover his potential strength and help explain his unconscious motivation to do things he do. When one is fully aware of the roadblocks that is affecting their career, then they are able to choose the response towards the myriad of choices. A student could turn his hobby (something he truly enjoys and is good at) into his career, eg gaming, internet-related business, etc. One should focus on his strength (flow) more instead of improving his weakness (against flow). Often, we hear people complaining about each other’s weaknesses, bad habits, mistakes but seldom acknowledge or identify clearly what their strength are. This is a grossly neglected area and one should play up to his strength and leverage on it. A street map contains landmarks, road name, signposts, etc to indicate how to get from Point A to B. If one uses the map correctly, he is able to reach his destination easily. Similarly, the Enneagram acts as a road map of change, assisting us to move out of our self-defeating behaviours and make new positive changes in our career, relationship, work, etc. “The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become” - Ben Herbster About the Author Desmond Chua is a Regional Sales Director of a global consulting firm and has been using the Enneagram effectively in his sales, training and recruitment. He also coach people to resolve their problems in career, relationship, communication, health and fitness. He can be contacted at

Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch