Belbin’s Team Roles
It’s possible that over the years you may have heard of Belbin and also the Team Roles. It’s also possible that you can’t remember all 9 roles or you haven’t got to the stage of understanding how you can use the information to help you as a manager of a team.
I remember when I first come across the team roles and immediately felt clearer on who should be taking on roles in teams and why. Once I had an understanding of my behavioural strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my colleagues, it became easier to agree who would be responsible for each part of the task and also understand when someone didn’t deliver!
Behavioural strengths and weaknesses
It is important to understand your own behavioural strengths and weaknesses as well as those you work with because;
- According to Gallup: If people play to their strengths they are six times more likely to be engaged.
- Gallup also found that employees who feel engaged at work and who can use their strengths in their jobs are more productive and profitable, stay longer, have happier customers, and produce higher quality work.
- As a manager or team leader, you will be able to allocate the right people to tasks This means no more trial and error by managers.
- You can put together high-performing teams based not on job titles and availability, but on behavioural contributions. You can almost start at the “performing” stage of the Tuckman model.
- Individuals can understand that valuing and using behavioural difference can result in more productive working relationships.
- Self-aware individuals can adapt their own behaviours to get the most out of relationships, by understanding potential conflict and being proactive to mitigate it.
Dr Meredith Belbin stated ‘A Team Role is a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.’
Belbin identified that successful teams need to have the right mix of people within them. The people within the team represent all nine of the Team Role behaviours. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to have nine people in each of your teams! Belbin suggests the best size for a given team is four people with each team member adopting two or three Team Roles that they are most comfortable with. They may also manage to cover a few more team roles if they need to. There will be some team roles that they prefer not to adopt at all. This will work as long as one of the other team members picks up this role. This result in team members covering all nine roles.
So how do we allocate or assume roles?
A Belbin report can identify which of the Team Role behaviours each of your team members prefer. There are free ‘alternative’ versions available on the Internet such as the test at the end of this blog.
It is important for each person to know their own Team Roles and those of their colleagues. Making use of complementary and collective strengths can help those individuals and teams to achieve their full potential.
So let’s have a look at the nine roles….in no particular order……..
A resource investigator is inquisitive by nature and they find ideas to bring back to the team. This person is typically outgoing and enthusiastic, so they naturally explore opportunities and develop contacts. A behavioural weakness is that they might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed. So don’t be too surprised when they forget to follow up on a lead.
A team worker helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and completes it on behalf of the team. This person is usually co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. As a result, they’re good at listening and averting friction. A behavioural weakness is that they can be indecisive in crunch situations and tend to avoid confrontation. So don’t be too surprised when they are hesitant to make an unpopular decision.
A co-ordinator focusses on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately. They are mature and confident; they identify talent and clarify goals. A behavioural weakness is that they can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work. So don’t be too surprised when they over-delegate, leaving themselves little work to do.
A Plant tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways. They are creative, imaginative and freethinking. They’re good at generating ideas and solving difficult problems. A behavioural weakness is that they can ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively. So don’t be too surprised when they are absent-minded or forgetful.
A monitor evaluator provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way. They are sober, strategic and discerning. They have an ability to see all options and judge accurately. A behavioural weakness is that they sometimes lack the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical. So don’t be too surprised when they are slow to come to decisions.
A specialist brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team. They are often single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills. A behavioural weakness is that they tend to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities. So don’t be too surprised when they overload you with information!
A shaper provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum. They are challenging, dynamic and thrive on pressure. The shaper has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles. A behavioural weakness is that they can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings. So don’t be too surprised when they become aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done.
An implementer plans a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible. They are practical, reliable and efficient. The implementer is good at turning ideas into actions and organising work that needs to be done. A behavioural weakness is that they can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities. So don’t be too surprised when they are slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes.
A completer finisher is most effective at the end of tasks. This is when they polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control. They are usually painstaking, conscientious and can be anxious. They searches for errors which they then polish and perfect. A behavioural weakness is that they can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate. So don’t be too surprised when they are accused of taking their perfectionism to extremes.
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