We take on many roles throughout the day and while most of these tie into our social status, personal duties, expectations and our behaviors they are only one of the few roles we learn about in time. Social roles are used to predict the way an individual acts in a situation and there is a belief that they are the result of a situation. When working in groups, roles exists that are not related to our personality or a result of our behavior. A superior can give them to us or unknowingly we may adopt them. This we have all been doing since youth but most of the time we are so absorbed into the roles we have taken on that we rarely take time to think about them.
They have become as automatic as breathing to majority of the workforce. Roles are not to be confused with personality. Dr. Meredith Belbin a researcher and management theorist regards them as clusters of characteristics, of which psychological preference is but one dimension. By understanding theses definitions we can gain a knowledge, that when combined with certain practice exercises, will enable us to see roles working can drastically increase a team’s effectiveness and overall well-being.
When developing an understanding of these roles, it is important to keep in mind that your role can change from task to task. In addition, one individual can have traits belonging to several roles just as much as several individuals can share certain roles that. A manager’s responsibility will be the task of making sure that the team is not heavy in more areas then others.
GROUP ROLES INCLUDING DEFINITIONS
Leader or Facilitator:
An individual who enables groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. has excellent interpersonal skills, being able to communicate effectively with team members through good listening, verbal and non-verbal communication. This person does not need to have to be an expert but have knowledge of the tasks concept. Shaper: Initiator Energizer
The Shaper is a dynamic, outgoing member of the team; they are often
argumentative, provocative, they push the group towards agreement and decision-making, keen to remove barriers and embrace challenges. Completer-Finisher Recorder
They are never at ease until they have have checked every detail and made sure that everything has been done and nothing overlooked. It is not that they are overly or irritatingly fussy: their obsession is an expression of anxiety. They have a great capacity for follow-through and attention to detail. They are unlikely to start anything that they cannot finish. They are not assertive members of the team, but they maintain a permanent sense of urgency, which they communicate to others to galvanize them into activity 
The Resource Investigator is a strong communicator, good at negotiating with people outside the team and gathering external information and resources. Resource Investigators are curious and sociable in their nature they are open to new ideas and ways of accomplishing tasks.  Plant:
The Plant is innovative and will suggest new and creative ways of problem solving within the team.. Sometimes the ideas of the Plant may be impracticable due to their highly creative nature – they may ignore known constraints when developing their ideas. Plants are often introverts who may have poor communication skills; they are loners and enjoy working away from the rest of the group.  Monitor Evaluator Elaborator
Monitor Evaluators are fair and logical observers and judges of what is going on in the team. Since they are good at detaching themselves from bias, they are often the ones to see all available options with the greatest clarity and impartiality. They take a broad view when problem solving, and by moving slowly and analytically, will usually come to the right decision. However, they can become very critical, damping enthusiasm for anything without logical grounds, and they have a hard time inspiring themselves or others to be passionate about their work.
As mentioned earlier, there are many definitions and several methods, which have caused some confusion to say the least. Some Information that warrants further discussion regards the sharing of roles as well as multiple roles in a group. I was unable to find any mention of a role that would compromise a group if more and then one person took its position. One thing I did learn that was interesting is an importance in having multiple leaders/facilitators They do not have to posses all the traits of a great or good leader but help in “moving the company forward” This is a little vague but I still find it interesting and makes sense if you look our Government processes.
I am looking at the roles and with understanding of them now I have not found any papers discussing groups missing some of these roles I would imagine there are definitely times that pieces are missing and they would result in negative team traits. Its proven that one person can manage many roles that doesn’t mean that just because one is short that anyone can absorb the responsibility. I find that even though I logically want o put the roles in an order I know look best or we sound I know it’s impossible because when I look at the characteristics of the roles they all have very defined strengths and in some areas it’s absolutely impossible to be strong at more than one thing. I could at least start with the leader but if there’s no completer or evaluator then the task won’t ever leave the leaders hands.
Roles that I have participated in are all of the above generally leaning towards leadership if I have knowledge of the task, enough to ask questions and give answers. When I am not interested in the outcome or the object of the task I will usually take on the roles of monitor and the plant stands out to me as well. One that I know I am not interested in ever being in would be the “Finisher” That is a no brainer for me because without some pushing I will usually not finish the task and be ok with it. 99% of the time I am the leader and it’s usually by choice because nobody steps up or I am volunteered for it and sometimes that’s fun but I don’t always enjoy it, mainly because it becomes expected of me and it has to always be something big and consuming.
At work, I am outspoken, enthusiastic, and very driven, when I am home, I tend to take on the roles of plant, monitor, and shaper. There is no problem staying far away from the role of a leader after work. I will and have taken on leadership roles usually when there is more confusion then I can handle. I am finding it interesting that I choose the roles at home that are somewhat opposite of what I venture into at work. Discussing types of roles, filling roles and understanding the use of roles brings us to situation of underlying issues that can cause conflict. There are several models for roles in groups.
These models have differences in definitions, role titles, and amount of roles. There are many arguments on the amount of roles needed to make an effective team; one thing that I have noticed to be universal is the amount of people needed to make an effective team. Managing a logistics company, I learned this fact first hand. We had an open floor for sales and operations, and then we separated the group into two departments, sales being one, carrier management the other; then again, we separated them into teams again for our regions. Together we all worked as a whole and communicated information back and forth all day. Sometimes it was like an amazing tennis match and sometimes it was like the other side just never got there .
We were having many issues with one of our sub groups performing to task and another sub group would clean things up if they could. We analyzed the groups and kept asking what made the others work but not this one… the carrier team had five sections with four desks in each section since it fit better that way. All the desks were full except one group had three people this being the problem group. We had factored that in the beginning though and had only delegated them a fair amount of work. We ended up blaming it on poor communication and lack of drive. The problem did not get any better and then we had another member of a team of four go on leave for six weeks. Two weeks later that team began having issues just like the other team of three and then we noticed the similarity between the two. Three people in a group could not perform the tasks as a whole. To make sure we were right we moved people around and made two new teams of three.
We sadly realized that the group of three would fall apart because two people always formed an alliance against one every time. This brings me back to the universal number required for a team to work effectively has been noted to be four. By Dr Belbin from that point forward we never allowed a group to fall below the standard four employees for more than a day period .
Management Teams INTL. (n.d.). Team Roles . Retrieved from Teamopoly:
http://www.teamopoly.com/cf.htm Wikepedia Team Role Inventories . (2009). Retrieved from Wikepedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Team_Role_Inventories