The average person works over 90,000 hours during their lifetime. This means that most of us spend about one third of our lives at work. That’s a big chunk of time, and it underscores that your work environment plays a huge role in your overall feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Your job setting matters a lot, but for most of us, we aren’t always clear about what constitutes ideal working conditions.
There are different strokes for different folks, and someone’s ideal office environment may be hellish for someone else. The Enneagram gives us valuable insight into what works, and what doesn’t work, for the various habits of attention. Below we offer the best and worst work environments, based on your Enneagram type.
Your Best: Your habit of attention seeks order, efficiency, and clarity on how to deliver top quality results. Your ideal work environment has clearly defined roles and responsibilities, well-planned deliverables and deadlines, efficient procedures and processes, and a clear code of conduct. You do best in a role where you can influence standards, manage quality, offer solutions, and work as part of a team to make things happen. You get a lot of satisfaction from a job well done.
Your Worst: You struggle in professional environments that are chaotic with ever-changing goals and priorities. You dislike a lack of consistent direction or clear delineation of duties. Excessive workloads can trigger you, especially if you feel work quality is suffering. And anything that goes against your personal values or ethics can become a show stopper for you.
Your superpower is to improve output, to maintain high standards and find practical solutions to work-related problems, so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention seeks connection and support so your ideal work environment is collaborative, friendly, personal, and interactive. You like a people-facing role where you can use your relationship-oriented focus to bring the company closer together. You do best in roles that leverage your ability to shape culture, offer service, and improve collaboration. You get a lot of satisfaction in seeing people work well together, and you are part of the reason people like coming to work.
Your Worst: You struggle in work settings that are overly formal and impersonal, or that lack a human-centered component. You dislike environments that are highly competitive, lack empathy, and that discourage collaboration. You can be triggered by feeling unappreciated or undervalued. And being talked down to or made to feel overly subordinate can be a red line for you. You play nice, and you expect other people to also.
Your superpower is to boost team morale, provide broad support, improve office communication, and to create a positive work environment, so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention seeks achievement and success which means you flourish in environments where you are rewarded for hard work and reaching your goals. You like a fast-paced, competitive workplace where you can rise to the top. And because you are image-conscious, you are happiest in work settings where you get public recognition for your achievements. You shine in roles that leverage your goal-oriented mindset and allow you to motivate others to achieve their goals. You love winning, and you are good at it.
Your Worst: You struggle in a slow-paced, overly bureaucratic work setting where goals are secondary to process. You dislike a company that lacks vision, and you can be triggered if you are in a position where you are reliant on the performance of others (who often work at a slower pace than you do) to meet your goals. Not getting credit when credit is due or being publicly embarrassed brings out the worst in you.
Your superpower is winning and achieving, so find a setting that appreciates these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention seeks authenticity. Because you intuitively understand the unspoken subcurrents of a situation, you do best in work environments where you can make a meaningful contribution and your emotional perceptiveness is leveraged. You like a workplace where you can influence stakeholders, and you are happiest when your contributions are highly valued. Your mind is original, and you are at your best when you can offer creative, innovative solutions and ideas.
Your Worst: You struggle in rigid, formal environments where the status quo is valued over innovation, and where routine, ordinary tasks make up the bulk of your workload. You dislike a company that ignores your perceptions and observations. You can be triggered by feeling ignored, misunderstood, or overlooked. Feeling rejected is like pouring salt on an open wound for you.
Your superpower is innovation, original expression, and understanding the unspoken undercurrents in professional situations, so find a setting that appreciates these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention gravitates to concerns about being unprepared so your ideal work environment is one with a minimum number of surprises or open-ended demands. You like clearly defined boundaries and autonomy to do things your own way. You appreciate a workplace where your well-balanced, objective analysis is valued and where your sharp mental focus influences decision-making. You are happiest when you can work independently, and you shine when you can offer expert advice or set a well thought out strategy.
Your Worst: You struggle in a work environment where the strategic direction is based on emotional decisions, random arguments, or incomplete analysis. You dislike a fast-paced, ever-changing setting that is heavily reliant on intense teamwork. You can be triggered by surprises and unclear work parameters. If your work boundaries are violated on a regular basis, you can become avoidant and disengaged.
Your superpower is clear, rational thought and deep focus so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention goes to threats and worst-case scenarios so your ideal work environment is structured and values preparation, caution, and careful analysis of potential negative outcomes. You thrive in environments where your concerns are taken seriously, and you appreciate an organization that offers hierarchy and support. You shine in workplaces that emphasize collaboration and teamwork. You are happiest when you are working in a well-functioning team under a fair, competent, even-handed boss.
Your Worst: You struggle in an environment where decisions are made haphazardly or without full consideration of potential consequences. You dislike constantly changing workplaces with a lack of involvement from upper management. You can be triggered if you feel information is being withheld or if your concerns are not being taken seriously. Any breach of trust is hard for you to get past.
Your superpower is critical thinking and eliminating threats in the workplace, so find a setting that appreciates these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention tilts positive and to an expansive future which means you do well in environments where you have lots of freedom and flexibility to do your work your way. You thrive in dynamic, ever-changing environments where you are able to think creatively and brainstorm about the future. You appreciate an organization that has a vision and believes in a brighter tomorrow. You are happiest when you can wear many hats and are appreciated for bringing high energy and optimism to the office.
Your Worst: You struggle in rigid work environments where you are micromanaged and given lots of routine, repetitive tasks. You dislike overly bureaucratic organizations, and you tend to avoid or postpone administrative tasks or anything you find boring. You can be triggered by a domineering boss or by meetings that drag on and focus heavily on details.
Your superpower is curiosity, lateral thinking, expansive vision, and an upbeat approach to work, so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention goes to power and power dynamics so you do best in a work environment where you have autonomy over your corner of the universe, and decisive action is valued. You thrive in settings where you can leave your mark and make a significant impact on the business. You appreciate an organization that is open to change and expansion. You are happiest when you can lead a team and can protect those who work for you.
Your Worst: You struggle in a work environment with overly prescriptive expectations about behavior and minimal flexibility to manage your own domain. You dislike being controlled or micromanaged, and you tend to react strongly against intrusive management. You can be triggered if you see unfair treatment of your direct reports or others in the organization.
Your superpower is decisive thinking, bold action, and a tenacity to get things over the finish line, so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Your Best: Your habit of attention goes to harmony so you do best in stable environments with a pleasant, congenial atmosphere. You appreciate settings where you can work at a relaxed pace and don’t feel overly pressured or stressed. You thrive in high collaboration, low conflict teams, and you are at your best when you can serve as an interpreter for various different departments and stakeholders.
Your Worst: You struggle in high conflict, aggressive, competitive environments with a clear winner and loser. You don’t appreciate constantly changing goals and directives. You dislike a lack of collaboration or feeling left out, and you can be triggered if you feel overlooked or ignored.
Your superpower is collaboration, mediation, and getting different perspectives to work harmoniously together so find a setting that leverages these gifts.
Work environments play a huge role in our professional success and in our personal happiness, so it's worth taking some time to understand where you thrive and where you struggle. Some like flexibility, others like structure. Some prefer to be hands-on, others hands-off. There is no right or wrong in the question of the ideal work setting. The important thing is to find what works for you. The Enneagram gives you a great starting point, not just to find a job that suits you, but to also find your best work environment.