Having worked with remote teams and online meetings for the past 25 years, I’ve struggled through the many problems that arise—language issues, time-zone issues, technical issues, and making sure everyone is heard. In the Before Times—before the Covid-19 Pandemic—people often had a choice whether or not to choose work with remote meetings. If they liked it, they did it. If they didn’t like it, they might move on to a more suitable work environment. Then suddenly the pandemic imposed remote work on many people, whether they liked that working style or not. So, who likes remote meetings? Who doesn’t? And what happens to the remote workplace as the pandemic recedes? The answers to these questions may be revealed by the Enneagram’s subtypes and Temperament triads.
No Hogs, No Logs
One of the weekly meetings I attend has a standing rule—No Hogs, No Logs. Attendees are expected to participate (no logs) and not take over the meeting (no hogs.) The fact that we even need this rule begs the question why some attend passively while others chime in at every opportunity. I tend to fall into the latter category, so I find that I am continually checking myself and finding other ways to channel my desire to express myself. More on that later.
An Enneagram Analysis
The Enneagram is a powerful tool that describes nine personality dynamics. I use this tool as the basis for the collaborative teamwork approach I describe in my book Teamwork 9.0. Each of the nine types brings a distinct style to the meeting setting, and to remote meetings in particular. Also, each will have a predisposition to assert themselves during the meeting. Here is a brief overview of those inclinations:
|Hog or Log?
|Will speak up if something isn’t right.
|Balanced as long as nothing is obviously wrong, otherwise will hog to focus on problem.
|Tends to banter, creating personal connections.
|Will go with the flow, but if there’s silence, will use the time to create connections which can appear as hogging.
|Wants to maintain progress towards the goal and may take an opportunity to shine.
|Balanced as long as the team is making progress, otherwise will hog to get and keep things on track.
|Reserved but chimes in, especially on emotionally impactful conversations.
|Tends to log but varies depending on their feelings about the topic.
|Tends to watch and listen. Will speak if spoken to.
|Log unless expected to speak.
|Tends to watch and listen, alert for potential problems.
|Balanced if no potential pitfalls, otherwise will hog to focus on a foreseeable problem.
|Think it, say it! Freely shares thoughts and works to maintain a positive experience.
|Tends to fill any silence with fun, positive conversations which can appear as hogging.
|Wants to get to the point to end the meeting and get back to work but will challenge perspectives that differ from their own.
|Balanced if the meeting is in control but will hog if meeting goes out of control.
|Will watch and listen quietly but may chime in to ward off a possible conflict.
|Log unless they feel compelled to mediate a conflict.
Another way to look at the disposition of the nine Enneagram types in a meeting setting is to examine Enneagram’s Temperament triads. I review these triads in Chapter 7 of Teamwork 9.0.
Types 3-7-8 – Assertive Types – Tending to Hog
Types 1-2-6 – Compliant Types – Tending towards balance
Types 4-5-9 – Withdrawing Types – Tending to Log
Assertive Types 3, 7 and 8 may have a tendency to hog, Withdrawing Types 4, 5 and 9 may have a tendency to log, while Compliant Types 1-2-6 may be more balanced. While these inclinations fit a standard understanding of the Enneagram types, they do not explain the wide range of behaviors I commonly see in meetings. For instance, the Type 6 description does not explain my own tendency to jump in with questions or comments at every opportunity. There must be something more…
But Wait, There’s More: Enneagram Subtypes
People with a given Enneagram type can exhibit a wide range of dispositions and behaviors. The subtypes have been developed as a tool to explain behavioral variations within a given Enneagram type, with three subtypes for each of the nine types. They are Self Preservation, Sexual (One-on-One), and Social. Mario Sikora uses different words to describe these same subtypes: Preserving, Transmitting, and Navigating. I like Sikora’s words, so I will use them here. The Preserving subtypes strive to maintain personal security, safety and wellbeing. The Navigating subtypes focus on being a member of a group or community. And the Transmitting subtypes project themselves and build intimate relationships.
Subtypes in Meetings
Navigating subtypes are naturals in meetings. They are adept at social interaction, fitting into the group and creating a sense of belonging. Preserving types are less concerned with fitting in and more concerned with their own safety and security. They’ll take a back seat and may not speak up unless their safety and security are threatened. That leaves the Transmitting types who like to project themselves into the conversation and may try to take it over. Based on that we could generalize the following:
Transmitting Subtypes – Tending to Hog
Preserving Subtypes – Tending to Log
Navigating Subtypes – Tending towards balance
Now, if we consider both the inclinations of the three Temperament triads and the three subtypes, we would get a diagram that looks like the following with those shaded in red tending to hog, those in blue tending to log and those unshaded tending towards balance.
I like this model because it accounts for the variations among each type based on both the Temperament triad and the subtype, giving a wide range of possible behaviors in meetings.
In spite of the fact that I am Type 6 in the Compliant triad, this model certainly explains my inclination as a Transmitting subtype to want to engage continuously in the meeting. Thank goodness for the chat function! I use chat extensively to have side conversations with other participants—One-on-One—which satisfies my subtype need without hogging the single audio channel of the remote meeting. Relatedly, I recall attending a management retreat once and during one of the talks I asked a few questions (satisfying both my Type 6 questioning and my subtype transmitting.) Later I received feedback that I was being a “hot dog.” I suppose in that setting I was expected to be a cold log!
How does your Enneagram type and subtype affect your participation in meetings? Do you tend to be a Hog, a Log, or somewhere in between? Do you find yourself interacting with the group, focusing on one-one conversations, or checking out all together? Are you looking forward to resuming in person meetings or would you prefer to continue meeting remotely?