Team building and the Enneagram


I remember sitting in an awkward circle with my colleagues. It was the end of the first day of a team-building intervention on “Transformative Leadership”.

“Just a one word check-out,” said our facilitator. “No particular order…Just pop when you’re ready,” he added, sitting back smugly.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of impending doom as you await your turn. Your thoughts tussle with each other as you take into account what others are saying (Inspired. Energized. Hopeful.🤨) and what you truly think and feel (Panicked. Nauseous. Blank.)

If you google “team building”, there is no end to the number of ads that promise “fun interactive activities” that “promote team spirit and a participative culture.” My personal favourite – “Interactive Team Belly Dancing – the gentlemen will drum while the ladies dance, as we teach you to work together in harmony.”🤮 I kid you not.

Why does everyone hate team builds?

Announce a bout of team building and you invariably experience a great deal of eye rolling and creative attempts to get out of the day. Why is this? Surely a day away from the routine of the office should be welcomed?

Having been guilty during my corporate days of subjecting my team to events that required (among other horrors) break-away groups, ‘checking in’, ‘check outs’ and rainbows of sticky notes on flip charts, I vowed never to do that to anyone again in my current role as a coach and facilitator of “team effectiveness interventions”.

So why do so many expert facilitators continue to force these corny, cliched methods on people. It’s partly why conventional team building simply doesn’t work. It’s inauthentic. And it’s not the solution to morale issues and interpersonal problems. 

8 reasons why your team hate team building:

  • People hate to look like fools.
  • They hate to be put on the spot.
  • Walking through fire with a colleague does not make you think that he’s less of an idiot back in the office.
  • It’s patronising to assume adults can’t work together without silly games and trite, forced socialisation.
  • Team builds invariably imply that something is broken and needs to be fixed.
  • People are too busy to waste energy solving fake problems.
  • Crawling through commando-style obstacles together isn’t getting to know someone.
  • Not everyone wants to turn their work colleagues into BFFs.

Team building interventions do not solve proper interpersonal problems 

Too often a well intentioned, off-site team-build can actually lower morale, particularly where there are genuine, deeply-rooted, team relationship issues that require real insight and serious remedial action. As one of my colleagues remarked after a particularly emotional exercise that left a few people in tears – “No one here is trained to deal with the psychological implications of this process.”

A manager that sees positive team dynamics as a priority focuses on how the individuals and the team operates in general everyday. It’s about the individuals knowing themselves and understanding their impact on others.

If you believe that effective team relationships are critical to a productive business, then one or two off-sites a year involving archery, or building a rocket out of cardboard, aren’t going to move the dial.

Self awareness is the key to Emotional Intelligence 

Research shows that you need a level of self-awareness before attempting to understand another person. Knowing yourself also requires an awareness of how you impact others. Once you have a sense as to why you respond the way that you do – what pushes your buttons – you become more open to seeing things from another person’s point of view.


Dr. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, describes self-awareness as one of the core components of emotional intelligence. He defines emotional intelligence as your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships. Chinwe Esimai,, February 2018

Why use the Enneagram in a business context?

The Enneagram is regarded by many business leaders and coaches as one of the most effective tools for developing emotional intelligence. The Enneagram provides insight into how different personality types think, feel and behave, by exploring their sub-conscious motivations. 

Every personality type has a particular contribution to make. Which styles are present, and which are missing in the team? What additional point of views are necessary for the best decisions and successful outcomes? It benefits us to tap into all of the Enneagram lenses and not just our own paradigms. The tools support moving from the personal to the inter-personal in order to build strong work teams.

People are more likely to feel like part of a real team if they have a chance to share their input on their own terms and talk over challenges in a natural and unforced environment. When people see that that their views are valued and that others also have their own unique issues to deal, it’s eye opening for everyone and leads to true tolerance and empathy. For me, these are the “team building” workshops of the future. Workshops that are both practical and informative. Workshops that reduce judgement and criticism and improve communication and productivity.

Windstorm Consulting  is experienced in people development particularly helping individuals to build on their own talents, harnessing their energy and passion to achieve their ambitions.

Our coaching services include personal and/or leadership development for individuals as well as young adults, couples, families and business teams.

Our engagement is through one-on-one coaching sessions, as well as dynamic, interactive workshops using the Enneagram.