A useful model for identifying team roles in your company is Belbin’s team roles. The better you understand team roles, the better you can improve your dream team’s performance.
Dr Meredith Belbin examined teamwork for many years and found that people in teams assume different team roles.
Belbin defined a team role as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way” and posited nine roles that underlie a dream team. Belbin argued that teams will become unbalanced if all members have similar weaknesses but also if they have similar strengths where they will compete rather than cooperate with each other.
With this in mind you can develop a team where the necessary roles are covered. Each role also has certain strengths and weakness. It is allowable for each role to have some weaknesses.
Belbin’s nine team roles are divided into three categories:
Action Oriented Roles
Challenges the team to improve
The shaper is dynamic, extroverted and enjoys stimulating others, questioning norms and solving problems. The shaper has the courage to push on when everyone is ready to give up. The weaknesses of this role are that they can be argumentative and may hurt people’s feelings.
Puts ideas into action
The implementer gets things done. They turn ideas and concepts into practical actions and plans. The implementer is disciplined, conservative, systematically, efficiently and are well organised. The implementer can be inflexible and resistant to change.
Ensures thorough, timely completion
The finisher makes sure that projects are completed properly. They make sure there are no errors and pay attention to the small details. The finisher responds to deadlines and pushes the team to meet them. The finisher is an orderly, conscientious, anxious perfectionist. The weakness of this role is that they worry unnecessarily and don’t delegate.
People Oriented Roles
Acts as the chairperson
The coordinator takes on the role of team leader or chair. The coordinator guides the team to the objectives. The coordinator is an excellent listener, calm, good-natured, recognises the value of all of the team members and delegates easily. The weaknesses are that they will not take personal responsibility and can be manipulative.
The team worker provides support and makes sure that everyone is working together well. The team worker is flexible, perceptive and diplomatic who tend to be popular within the team. The team worker is capable but ensures that the team is cohesive and actively helps people get along. The team worker can be indecisive and take uncommitted positions in discussions and decision-making.
Finds outside opportunities
The resource investigator is innovative and curious who explores options, contacts and negotiates recourses for the team. The resource investigator is enthusiastic, outgoing and charming. People warm to the resource investigator and so are receptive to their ideas although they can lose enthusiasm quickly and can be too optimistic.
Presents new ideas and approaches
The plant is the innovator who comes up with the new ideas. The plant loves praise but doesn’t like criticism. The plant is introverted and prefers to work apart from the team. The plant can be sometimes impractical, poor communicators and ignore constraints.
Thought Oriented Roles
Analyses the options
The monitor analyses the ideas of other people (generally the ideas of the plant). The monitor is shrewd, objective and weighs the pros and cons of ideas before coming to a decision. The monitor is a critical thinker who can be seen as being detached or unemotional. The monitor is not as motivated as the others and responds to event rather than instigating an event.
Provides specialist skills
The specialist has particular skills that get the job done. The specialist has pride in their abilities and likes to maintain their professional status. This is the expert of the team who commits themselves fully to their field. The specialist tends to be limited in their contribution to the team and preoccupied with technical aspects at the expense of the bigger view of the project.
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