Professional Development

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Engage With The Ennegram to Beat Burnout

Sunday, 26 September 2021 00:00

Employee burnout is at an all-time high as we are transitioning through and out of the pandemic.  Many places are short-staffed, and well, short-tempered.  Our mental, emotional and physical health have been tested in more ways than we ever thought possible.  We are burning out. Which means returning or even transitioning back into the workplace is a challenge for us all.

Having a workplace culture that is welcoming and ready for adaptation is more crucial than ever.  But how? Tyler Kearns, the Program Coordinator of Clayton Kid Zone in Clayton, Missouri, thought about this as he planned to welcome his leadership team for the new school year. Most of his team were in their first year of leadership, supporting brand new staff.

When asked about how he was approaching this new transition, Kearns said, “In my experience, for a team to work well together, they must feel heard, seen, and included. Connection to each other and the program is critical for success.

In my search for training to build this connection, I looked at many options. During that search, I came across an NAA Coaching Conversation session featuring Enneagram Coach Hillarie Kay. I loved how the Enneagram focused not only on your type and strengths but also connected to your growth in times of stress and comfort.

“With a focus on social-emotional learning and self-care, not only for our students but for our staff, I knew that the Enneagram was the right fit for our training. It would allow team members to learn more about themselves and the “whys” behind their feelings and actions. In addition, it would also help them understand each other and build strategies for understanding and connecting with their teammates.”

The Enneagram has been around for at least 50, but recently resurfaced as an emerging methodology.  It’s a personality model based on nine core types.  It focuses on individual strengths and also leans into emotional and behavioral patterns and communication.  It has the unique ability to help one understand different personality triggers. This knowledge helps reduce burnout significantly in the workplace.

The Clayton Kids Club staff participated in a half-day Enneagram training. “By the end of the training, I learned the best ways to communicate with them [staff], their strengths and areas for growth.  I can now individualize my approach to help each staff member be successful.  I became more self-aware and learned how to reflect better and what actions to take to improve my mindset. I still have a lot to learn about applications of the Enneagram, but through this training, I have become a better leader and coach for my team.

Feedback from the staff was positive.   As soon as the training was over, Kearns said the team was already applying what they learned to create the best culture for their respective teams. 

When asked if he would encourage this training for other afterschool programs, Kearns didn’t hesitate to say yes. “I would encourage all programs to incorporate the Enneagram. Your team members will grow—both personally and professionally—resulting in better work-life balance and a desire to be fully present every day. It allows staff to feel safe and share openly with each other, teaching the empathy necessary to build a strong team and a place where people look forward to coming to work.

If you are interested in scheduling an Enneagram training for your team, contact Hillarie Kay at