Developed by Meredith Belbin in 1981, following nine years of study, the Belbin team profiler has become one of the most accessible and widely used tools to support team building. The team roles were designed to define and predict potential success of management teams, recognising that the strongest teams have a diversity of characters and personality types.
The nine Belbin Team Roles enable managers and team leaders to build successful teams that capitalise on the strengths of individual team members. A team with the right blend of Team Roles has a higher chance of achieving its objectives than an unbalanced team with similar personalities. This is particularly important for those working on projects. Now with remote work being the norm for many its even more important to ensure that team members understand their own role in the team and that of others.
‘According to Gallup: If people play to their strengths, they are six times more likely to be engaged.’
If team members share the same kind of weaknesses, those weaknesses tend to be magnified and reflected in the team as a whole. Likewise, if team members have the same strengths, they may instinctively compete for the tasks and responsibilities that suit their personality styles. However, you do not need nine team members to take advantage of all types of team roles. Most people are perfectly capable of assuming two or three different Belbin Team Roles. Each Team Role has its own strengths and weaknesses, and each Team Role is equally important for developing high performance teams.
The team need not utilise all Belbin Team Roles at the same time. There may be times when the team does not require several of the roles; likewise, there will be other times when the group requires a full complement of Belbin Team Roles to achieve its objectives. By analysing team objectives, team leaders can make informed decisions about which roles the team needs to call upon, and when.
Let’s take a closer look at the different roles.
Resource Investigator – People Oriented Role
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.
Team Worker – People Oriented Role
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.
Co-ordinator – People Oriented Role
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.
Plant – Thought Oriented Role
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.
Monitor Evaluator – Thought Oriented Role
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.
Specialist – Thought Oriented Role
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!
Shaper – Action Oriented Role
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.
Implementer – Action Oriented Role
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.
Completer Finisher – Action Oriented Role
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 search 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.
By utilising the Belbin team profiler, 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. The team is more balanced
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 team development stages of the Tuckman model – Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing!
When team members know and understand their own role in the team and that of their team members, the results are greater engagement, increased productivity and fewer misunderstandings that may culminate in conflict. The first step in the process is for team members to complete the Belbin Self-Perception Questionnaire. The Belbin Individual Report will help pin-point individual Team Role strengths (and weaknesses) to communicate and share with the rest of the team.
What opportunities does this present? What potential gaps are there?
Would you like to know which role you play in a team? If you lead a team, would you like to explore your team member’s roles and supporting their ability to work successfully together, especially remotely?
Please contact me to discuss any questions you may have and how you can use the Belbin profiling team roles to enhance effectiveness and success within your team.
This tool is excellent in facilating a team building session as well, where collaboration and connection can be improved!