Team Roles


Assessing the typical behavior of the members of   a team. Explanation of Meredith Belbin’s Team Roles. (1981)


What   are the Belbin Team Roles? Description

The Belbin Team Roles method, also referred to as   Belbin Team Inventory, was developed by Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin   and first published in his 1981 book Management Teams. It is a model that can   be used to describe and gain insight into the behaviour of one team member in   relationship to another. The Belbin Inventory scores people on how strongly   they express traits from 9 different Team Roles.


Cluster     of Behavior Team     Role Strengths     – Contributions Allowable     Weaknesses
Action-oriented     roles Shaper Brings dynamism, challenging,     thrives on pressure. The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

The shaper is a task-focused     leader who abounds in nervous energy, who has a high motivation to achieve     and for whom winning is the name of the game. The shaper is committed to     achieving ends and will ‘shape’ others into achieving the aims of the team.

Prone to provocation. Offends     people’s feelings.

He or she will challenge,     argue or disagree and will display aggression in the pursuit of goal     achievement. Two or three shapers in a group can lead to conflict, aggravation     and in-fighting.

Implementer Brings discipline and     reliability, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical     actions.

Implementers are aware of     external obligations and are disciplined, conscientious and have a good     self-image. They tend to be tough-minded and practical, trusting and     tolerant, respecting established traditions. They are characterized by low     anxiety and tend to work for the team in a practical, realistic way.     Implementers figure prominently in positions of responsibility in larger     organizations. They tend to do the jobs that others do not want to do and     do them well: for example, disciplining employees.

Somewhat inflexible and     conservative. Slow to respond to new possibilities.
Completer Finisher Brings conscientiousness,     painstaking, anxious. Searches out errors and omissions. Delivers     on time.

The completer finisher gives     attention to detail, aims to complete and to do so thoroughly. They make     steady effort and are consistent in their work. They are not so interested     in the glamour of spectacular success.

Inclined to worry unduly.     Reluctant to delegate.
People-oriented     roles Chairman


Co-ordinator (1988)

Brings maturity, confident, a     good chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making,     delegates well.

The coordinator is a     person-oriented leader. This person is trusting, accepting, dominant and is     committed to team goals and objectives. The coordinator is a positive     thinker who approves of goal attainment, struggle and effort in others. The     coordinator is someone tolerant enough always to listen to others, but     strong enough to reject their advice.

Can often be seen as     manipulative. Off loads personal work.

May not stand out in a team     and usually does not have a sharp intellect.

Teamworker Brings co-operation, mild,     perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts     friction.

Team workers make helpful     interventions to avert potential friction and enable difficult characters     within the team to use their skills to positive ends. They tend to keep     team spirit up and allow other members to contribute effectively. Their     diplomatic skills together with their sense of humor are assets to a team.     They tend to have skills in listening, coping with awkward people and to be     sociable, sensitive and people oriented.

Indecisive in crunch     situations.

They tend to be indecisive in     moments of crisis and reluctant to do things that might hurt others.

Resource Investigator Brings enthusiasm, extrovert,     communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts.

The resource investigator is     the executive who is never in his room, and if he is, he is on the     telephone. The resource investigator is someone who explores opportunities     and develops contacts. Resource investigators are good negotiators who     probe others for information and support and pick up other’s ideas and     develop them. They are characterized by sociability and enthusiasm and are     good at liaison work and exploring resources outside the group.

Over – optimistic. Loses     interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.

Is usually not the source of     original ideas.

Cerebral     (thinking and problem-solving) roles Plant Brings creativity,     imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems.

The plant is a specialist     idea maker characterized by high IQ and introversion while also being     dominant and original. The plant tends to take radical approaches to team     functioning and problems. Plants are more concerned with major issues than     with details.

Ignores incidentals. Too     pre-occupied to communicate effectively.

Tendency to disregard     practical details and to argumentativeness.

Monitor Evaluator Brings objective judgment,     sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options. Judges     accurately.

According to the model, this     is a judicious, prudent, intelligent person with a low need to achieve.     Monitor evaluators contribute particularly at times of crucial decision     making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. The     monitor evaluator is not deflected by emotional arguments, is serious     minded, tends to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think     things over. He takes pride in never being wrong.

Lacks drive and ability to     inspire others.

May appear dry and boring or     even over-critical. Those in high level appointments are often monitor     evaluators.

Specialist (1988) (Added by Belbin in 1988). Brings     dedication, single-minded, self-starting. Provides knowledge and skills     in rare supply.

They are often highly     introverted and anxious and tend to be self-starting, dedicated and     committed.

Contributes only on a narrow     front. Dwells on technicalities.

Single-mindedness and a lack     of interest in other peoples’ subjects.


Origin   of the Belbin Team Roles model. History

Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin was born in 1926. He   took first and second degrees at Cambridge University. After his doctorate,   he was as a research fellow at Cranfield College. His early research focused   mainly on older workers in industry. He returns to Cambridge in the late   1960s and joins the Industrial Training Research Unit. Here he is invited to   carry out research at what was then called the Administrative Staff College   at Henley-on-Thames. This work formed the basis of his 1981 book ‘Management   Teams’.


Usage   of Belbin Team Roles. Applications

  •   Ensuring that each needed role in a team or   project is actually performed by somebody.
  •   Clustering certain activities in one team member   in a logical way.
  •   If the team members are allowed to perform the   activities they like most, they will be more motivated which will normally   increase the team performance
  •   Well balanced teams are less risk-bearing and   typically require less management attention.

Limitations   of the Belbin Team Roles method. Disadvantages

  •   While comparisons can be drawn between the   behavioral team roles of Belbin and Management   Profiles, it is important to remember that Belbin roles represent   tasks and functions in the self-management of the activities in a team, and   are not personality types or Thinking   Preferences. Although there are tests to analyze your ideal team   roles, this does not mean you can not or should not assume other roles.
  •   In larger projects, the team activities are   likely to be grouped into Team Processes.
  •   Belbin himself acknowledges that some teams   consisting of one Shaper and a group of “yes” men perform well,   especially where predictability was high.
  •   Actually, team activities change during a   project. Compare: Stages of Team   Development.
  •   There may be more than one plant needed to bring   ideas and perspectives into a team. Compare: Six Thinking   Hats.
  •   The model does not take into account hierarchal   relations between people.
  •   Certain people may not like each other. As a   result they may be unable to work together.

Book: R. Meredith Belbin – Management Teams –                                                                         

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