Understanding Team Roles, Part 1: The Belbin Approach

Beth Miller |

Belbin-team-roles

Teams have been the topic of my blog lately. I’ve shared with you about how different team types make business possible and how to tell when your team members don’t trust you. Next up? Team roles.

For business executives looking to select and develop high-performing teams, having an understanding of team roles can help in this process. It’s important to understand that team members who understand their roles and what is expected of them will work better.

There are a few ways to approach the idea of roles in teams. The method most widely used and researched on team roles is Belbin Team Roles.

Using Belbin Team Roles to create stronger, more effective teams

People have strengths and weaknesses. Belbin assessments can measure positives and negatives in people’s behavior as they relate to team roles. (Personality assessments, such as Myers Briggs, are different. Belbin measures what can be seen, while psychometric tests reveal what’s below the surface.)

Many executive coaches, including myself, use these assessments as tools to help leaders build better teams.

After seven years of research in the 1970s of management teams, psychologist Meredith Belbin determined there were nine team roles. Some of these roles are natural, some can be adopted if necessary and others will be a challenge for a person to adopt. Usually people have primary and secondary roles they can naturally fill. A 20-minute assessment can identify a person’s team roles. The nine roles are:

Plants

Creative people who come up with new ideas.

Resource Investigators

Extroverts who are good at making outside contacts and developing ideas.

Monitor Evaluators

Analytical people who are shrewd and can be slow-moving.

Coordinators

Mature individuals who are good at ensuring talents within the team are used effectively.

Implementers

Task-oriented people who are loyal and practical.

Completer Finishers

Meticulous workers with an attention to detail.

Teamworkers

Caring people who enjoy working with others.

Shapers

Dynamic and challenging people.

Specialists

Professional people with high technical skills.

Belbin discovered that a balance of people with the different roles would lead to a team’s success. However, balancing the team roles may not be of the same importance in all types of teams.

Here are some case studies involving Belbin Team Roles. 

If the key to success in any organization is not the individual but the team, as Belbin says, then it’s crucial for business leaders seeking success to understand how to create and develop teams. My next post about teams will continue to talk about team roles and their importance to an organization’s success.

How balanced is your team based on Belbin’s roles?

Photo via Belbin.com.

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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