Dr. Meredith Belbin defined a team role as “a tendency to behave, contribute an interrelate with others in aparticular way.”
He named nine such team roles that underlie team success. It is important to emphasize that these are not set instone behavioral patterns of individuals, rather these are preferences and attitudes team members will assume in agiven team situation.
Therefore a certain individual might perform a certain role within one team and accomplish a different role within another team. Often however individuals do have a tendency to fill a certain rolewithin all the teams that they are a part of or at least strive to fill this preferred role.
Remember: Belbin asserts that when a team is performing at its best, one finds that each team member has clear responsibilities. Also noticeable is that every Belbin role needed to achieve the team’s goalis being performed fully and well. However it is likely that a team will fall short of its full potential not because skillsare lacking but because the Belbin roles aren’t harmonized across the team.
Teams become unbalanced when all team members carry out the same behavioral team role. When team members have similar strengths and weaknesses this can create problems. If the strengths arethe same they may compete instead of collaborate.
With this information in mind, the team leader together with the team can implement the model and investigatethe team members preferred roles as well as explore the roles which are missing.
By understanding your role within a particular team, you can develop your strengths and manage yourweaknesses as a team member, and so improve your contribution to the team.
Belbin’s Team Roles Model
Belbin identified nine team roles and he categorized those roles into three groups:
- Action Oriented
- People Oriented
- Thought Oriented
The nine team roles divided into the three groups are:
Action Oriented Roles:
Shapers are people who challenge the team to improve. The Shaper is the one who shakes thingsup to make sure that all possibilities are considered and that the team does not become complacent.
Implementers are the people who get things done. They turn the team’s ideas and concepts into practical actions and plans.
Completer-Finishers are the people who see that projects are completed thoroughly.
People Oriented Roles:
Coordinators are the ones who take on the traditional team-leader role and have also been referred to asthe delegate.
Team Worker (TW)
Team Workers are the people who provide support and make sure that people within the team are working togethereffectively.
Resource Investigator (RI)
Resource Investigators are innovative and curious. They explore available options; develop contacts, and negotiate for resources on behalf of the team.
Thought Oriented Roles:
The Plant is the creative innovator who comes up with new ideas and approaches. They thriveon praise but criticism is especially hard for them to deal with.
Monitor-Evaluators are best at analyzing and evaluating ideas that other people (oftenPlants) come up with. These people are shrewd and objective and they carefully weigh the pros and cons of all theoptions before coming to a decision.
Specialists are people who have specialized knowledge that is needed to get the job done. Theypride themselves on their skills and abilities, and they work to maintain their professional status.
In finding roles for actual or potential team members keep the above in mind. When a person has guidance on what role or roles (you can play more than one at a time) he or she can play for a team they will have clarity. With clarity they can take steps and provide thinking to fulfill their role, thus helping the team. They now have purpose.
And with purpose, it is much easier for a team member to contribute to achieving the team’s goals. Also, I have found this process to be liberating. You have a specific role or roles and you understand, instead of worrying, how you can make a positive contribution to achieving what the team is tasked to accomplish.