Enneagram One At Work
Who is the Enneagram One at Work?
The Perfectionist, The Reformer, The Improver, The Good Person
People who identify as Enneagram One are responsible, thorough, and hard-working. They have very high standards for themselves and others, a point that is important to keep in mind if you are working in close proximity to a One. Their desire to do things “right” does not end with themselves- they also want (and expect) you to do things right as well.
Ones have a high ethical standard and want to make the world a better place. They assume you want to be perfect, and they offer input to help you achieve perfection; accordingly, it is important to understand that Ones don’t intend to micromanage, and they are not trying to be condescending. Rather, they have a higher internal standard than any other number on the Enneagram; left unchecked, they can try to get the world and others to conform to those high standards, which neither the world nor anyone else can do.
Accordingly, a challenge Enneagram Ones face is balancing out their critical thinking with acceptance and appreciation – of themselves and of others. Ones may find it beneficial to practice discerning when “good enough” is more productive than “exactly right”.
The unconscious motivation that drives a one is the need to perfect themselves, others, and the world.
Enneagram One Strengths
Enneagram Ones have a relentless eye for detail and can see mistakes right away, making them excellent editors. They pay attention to what needs to be fixed because they are naturally in tune with what is “good” and “right”. In fact, they associate being “right” with being “morally right”. Ones may feel like they need to control their environment in order to make things right. A reframing exercise that can help them see the big picture is to suggest they reflect on the question, “How am I serving with my improving?”
To an Enneagram One, doing work well has moral weight and value; accordingly, they are very conscientious and can stay focused on the ideal of the product or project long after others have given up or moved on. Enneagram Ones are very oriented to action and can usually be found doing something. On account of this, they lead by example and standard setting.
Enneagram One Weaknesses
A strength overdone is a weakness. Enneagram Ones can get bogged down in details that may not ultimately matter, slowing progress down. In the same way, Enneagram Ones might procrastinate simply on account of being paralyzed by the idea of perfection. Some Ones may even come across as rigid, however, it is important to keep in mind that the Enneagram One is driven by doing what is “right” or “good”. When in doubt, a One will refer back to the rules of an organization; it is possible that they may become so committed to a policy that they miss the humanity in what’s going on around them.
Enneagram Ones have a loud inner critic that notices all the things that are wrong or out of place. This inner critic assaults the One with this feedback. The Enneagram One, in turn, thinks everyone else is seeing all of these same things that are wrong and out of place, leaving them to the One to clean up or fix. In reality, others may not see all that is “wrong”. Nevertheless, this can lead to anger that the One may repress due to concerns of anger being “wrong”, so the anger manifests itself in a form of resentment towards others.
How to Support an Enneagram One at Work
Keep in mind that Enneagram Ones are meticulous, reliable, hardworking, and responsible. Innate to an Enneagram One is the importance of getting it done right the first time as they are energized by excellence, efficiency, and order. Enneagram Ones long to hear the words: “You are good.”
- Be clear about your expectations. When you give an Enneagram One an assignment, s/he is thinking, “How can I fulfill, responsibly and reliably, the expectations of the other person?” Communicate clearly what winning looks like and make everything measurable (e.g., set a deadline) so they’ll know if they are hitting their goals.
- Keep them informed about what’s going on. They value being respectful and respected; keep them apprised about changes in plans and walk alongside them in their frustrations about those changes. They may react by saying, “Why are we doing that? That’s not how we decided we were going to do this.” Understand that when you change the plan, they are no longer prepared to do the task perfectly.
- Do not cut corners. Bending or breaking rules or guidelines is upsetting to a One; when this occurs, they can perceive it to be a commentary on their ethical standards.
- Be mindful about making mistakes. Making mistakes or being perceived as imperfect carries outsized importance to anEnneagram One. The potential for mistakes is worrisome; if made, they can be perceived as catastrophic.
5. Steer choices and behaviors towards “goodness”. Ones are fixated on doing what is “good” and appropriate. Enneagram Ones will know the societal standards for a situation and will want to follow etiquette. More relaxed Enneagram types may see the Ones in their workplace as being a little too buttoned up.
6. Never criticize in public. If you do so, they may deflect responsibility or become defensive (or both). It would be devastating for an Enneagram One to be viewed in public as someone who made a mistake or didn’t do a good job. Give Ones feedback respectfully in private, honoring their fundamental desire to do it right. Affirm the positive contributions they make to the team.
7. Be on time. Remember, being respectful and reliable is critical to an Enneagram One, both in how they treat others and in how others behave towards them.
8. Own your mistakes. When you take responsibility for your mistakes, an Enneagram One will then help you make the correction.
9. Help them see their flaws as a growth edge inherent in being human. Enneagram Ones can be hyper sensitive about their flaws; remind them that everyone has areas that they’re still growing into.
10. Help them broaden their scope by appealing to the greater good. Help them step back and put their contribution into perspective. While they may want to delay submitting their work until they know it is “perfect”, there are times when this mindset can hold the company back. For the good of all, there are times when good enough is good enough.
It helps to talk through what you’re experiencing with someone you can trust. You’ll gain a second opinion, guidance, and the encouragement you need to take action.
If you are in a season where you need a coach, contact Anne via the Contact page.
Personal Growth Areas
- Stay connected rather than right. Be mindful of times when you withdraw from others. Sometimes when we dig in to being right, it isolates us from people.
- Quiet your inner critic by practicing gratitude (out loud) with others. TELL someone what they’re doing right and why you’re grateful.
- Shift your view from controlling to serving. Don’t “should” on people. Ask questions instead of telling people what they should be doing.
How Executive Women Save 150 Min./Day
FREE, downloadable guide that will show you how high-performing women optimize their time!
Beginner's Guide to Being an Executive Mom
FREE, downloadable guide with tips to reduce overwhelm so you can reach personal and professional fulfillment faster!