Career Advice Thinking Corner

A 360-degree view of life

If a person says someone’s “got a nice personality”, a lot of times it just means he is a good person. But to Eunice Chen, who studies people and assesses personality differences, the nature of personality is far too complex to be simply defined as good or bad.

Chen is a certified professional trainer of the “enneagram” – an ancient method that assesses personality based on nine major types, namely reformer, helper, achiever, individualist, investigator, loyalist, enthusiast, challenger and peacemaker. She is a master trainer at Kornerstone, an institute of corporate and professional development in Hong Kong.

Personality tests have become popular around the world as an alternative way of assessing job applicants’ personal characteristics.

Many organisations, such as Apple Computer, Boeing, Disney, General Motors and even the Central Intelligence Agency use various personality tests in their hiring practices. One popular personality test is the enneagram, which has over 2,500 years of history.

The enneagram takes a gradual path from self-understanding to self-acceptance, then self-improvement, and eventually, self-actualisation. “The entire self-improvement process helps participants determine their own personality type, explore and maximise their strengths and understand their weaknesses in order to enhance communication and relationships with others,” Chen says.

When applied in the workplace, the enneagram is a highly effective and comprehensive compatibility test. It can also help with personal growth, build mutual trust, and be applied to stress management, performance coaching, team management and conflict resolution.

“Some years ago, I came across a case in which workers of a small company got along like a big family but as a team they were ineffective because there was no discussion, no new ideas and no synergy. The boss was very troubled. I later found out that the employees were mostly of Type 2 personality – the helper,” Chen says.

“If you are the boss, you want a dynamic and proactive team that constantly comes up with new ideas. You want your staff to debate and challenge one another. But that kind of energy can only be fired up when you have different types of people working together. The enneagram can help identify people for different jobs and create a good personality mix at work. It’s all about striking the right balance,” she explains.

Enneagram training, combined with executive coaching, has been widely recognised as one of the most effective ways to groom leaders. This breakthrough approach is both insightful and enduring because it focuses on developing a person’s emotional intelligence.

In terms of leadership development, enneagram training helps potential candidates gain selfawareness, confidence and self-control so that they can achieve emotional stability and build stress tolerance.

“Once they manage to build their inner strengths by learning the different steps of self-improvement they can then influence other people. Leadership is the process of influencing others to understand what needs to be done and how to do it. Good leaders have to be fully equipped before they are ready to influence others and enneagram training provides the right tools,” Chen explains.

To go from self-understanding to self-actualisation is an intricate journey of personal growth. To develop as a person, Chen believes one must learn to understand himself, his passions, fears, defence mechanisms, and virtues.

“Our workshop can help change your communication stance to achieve better results in different aspects of life by examining the many factors that determine your personality, spirituality, perceptions, thoughts, feelings and behaviour,” she explains.

A workshop called “360° Communication with Enneagram”, organised by Classified Post and Kornerstone, gives participants a practical and thorough understanding of the enneagram system which can be applied in a business environment to enhance leadership and team effectiveness.

Participants will improve their social skills by learning to analyse relationships, see things from a different perspective and understand the needs of others. “We want people to have a 360-degree understanding of themselves, others and the world,” Chen says.

Event details
Date June 5 - June 6
Time 1pm-7pm (June 5), 10am-5.30pm (June 6)
Venue 15/F, Hip Shing Hong Centre, 55 Des Voeux Road, Central
Language Cantonese
Admission HK$3,900/HK$2,800 (by May 23)
Registration deadline June 2
Inquiries Tel: 2116 3328

Nine-sided system of finding the right match

The enneagram system is a type of personality and psychological assessment developed by Bolivian philosopher Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo, a Chilean psychiatrist.

"Enneagram" is from the Greek words ennea which means nine, and grammos, something written or drawn.

The symbol of the enneagram is a mystical enneagon - a nine-sided figure representing nine personality types.

At the heart of the enneagram is the universal belief that humans are spiritual beings incarnated in the material world and embodying the same life and spirit of their creator.

"The enneagram system is not about revealing a person's intelligence, talent, his level of integrity or personal history. It shows us how to view the world, tells us what choices we are likely to make, the values we hold, what motivates us, how we react to people and how we respond to stress. It's about helping us see ourselves and the world around us more clearly," says Eunice Chen, certified professional trainer of the enneagram.

She points out that most employers have certain expectations and hiring preferences because they want to find the best candidates.

The enneagram can fairly assess the degree to which the candidates' attributes match specific job criteria.

The assessment can help the recruiter evaluate the candidates' ability to learn, work with team members and tackle problems.

"It helps assess each personality's aptitude for different jobs so that the recruiter can winnow down suitable candidates," she explains.

According to Chen, one cannot fake his personality in order to manipulate results in the enneagram test because it's not easy to hide your personality and the true characteristics will always come out, especially during interactions with one another.

"No one type of personality is the best or better than others. Some people even have the traits of two personality groups under the enneagram system.

"It is not unusual because when a person is under stress, [for instance], a set of personality traits that ordinarily lies dormant may surface," she adds.