Tyler Kearns, Program Coordinator of Clayton Kid Zone in Clayton, Mo was feeling employee burnout at an all time high as his after school program was transitioning through and out of the pandemic as a new school year approached. Plus he knew in 2021 he would be welcoming a new leadership team who, for most, was in their first year of leadership, and with mostly new staff under them. When asked about how he approached looking to work through these challenges, Tyler said the following,

“In my experience for a team to work well together they must be able to feel heard, seen, and included. This feeling should not only be within the big picture of the program but as a team– everyday working with our youth. Connection to each other and to the program is key for success. In my search for the right training to build this connection I looked at many tools. It was during that search I came across the Enneagram training through the NAA from Hillarie Kay. I loved how the Enneagram focused not only on your type’s strengths, but connected to your self- growth when in times of stress and comfort. With a
focus on Social Emotional learning and self-care, not only for our students, but on our staff I
knew that the Enneagram was the right fit for my staff. It would allow them to learn more about
themselves and the “why’s” around their feelings and actions, but also help them understand
each other, and build strategies around understanding and connecting with their teammates.”

Kearns has a staff of 20 and they all participated in a half-day Enneagram training.

“ By the end of the half day training, I learned the best ways to communicate with them [staff], areas of strengths, and areas of growth. I am now able to individualize my approach with each staff member– meeting their needs in a way which they will respond best. Personally, I learned how to better reflect and become aware of my actions and what could be causing them, and when to take some self- care actions to get me into a better place. I still have a lot to learn about applications of the Enneagram but I feel like I have become a better leader and coach for my team. Additionally, being open with my team has allowed them to see the big picture of the program and better understand my personality and
what runs through my head on the daily.”

Feedback from the staff was great as well. Kearns said from the second the training was over the team was already taking what they learned and applying it to creating the best culture for their respective teams. A couple of his leaders had this to say,

“ A big takeaway for me was having new resources and tools to be able guide staff through
different scenarios which may arise throughout our year, knowing the best way each person
receives and gives feedback.”

“I enjoyed learning more about my staff and being a better support for my team either through work or
life. Personally, I really enjoyed seeing what my stressors were and what my health characteristics were. I really enjoyed this training and would love to do it again.”

When asked if he would encourage this training for other teams, Tyler didn’t hesitate to say yes!

“I would encourage all programs to begin to incorporate the Enneagram into their team building. Your team members will grow themselves both in and out of work making their work life balance better. This not only helps them personally, but helps them continue to show up each day and be present for you and the youth we serve. It also allows your team to feel safe and allowed to be open and honest with each other. It truly teaches empathy as it allows you to create harmony together, meeting each other where you are and in the best headspace. As I do site visits I hear my teams still making connections or having little “light bulb” moments and feeling more comfortable at work. I have noticed more connections being made, and our new leaders having better understanding of ways to work with their teams in both the good times and the times of discomfort.”

The Enneagram has brought a common language to the staff of Clayton Kid Zone. It was a culture shift.

But how does this all work you may be wondering, how do you get started in introducing this to your team?

Here was Tyler’s experience.

“The training experience was phenomenal from the get go. All of our staff did their Enneagram Assessment to get their type beforehand, and there was already a buzz in the room before it started. Team members were comparing numbers and talking through their descriptions. Once the training
began you could tell the team was at ease and ready to learn. Hillarie made everyone feel
welcome and included, and made sure everyone felt they were in a safe place to share without
judgement. When someone spoke they received immediate feedback and connection for their
self-growth but also their work growth. The flow of the training went from understanding
yourself to understanding each other. This allowed for trust to be built among the team, and
allowed for links to be made to work and different approaches to be discussed in real time. This training was so easy to connect with and did an amazing job really showing how each person fits
into the puzzle of our program, while also giving tools and strategies to better manage yourself
in life and work.”