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Teambuilding – Meredith Belbin framework and application Essay

In the Hotel and Tourism Industry, many activities are carried out in project teams. Hence, the Shandrani Resorts and Spa.
Hotel actively encourages its employees’ group training and team development. This report examines a group of 15 permanent workers including their manager, who, currently work full time for the same large Hotel. They were commencing their first year of training, on 6 days’ working approach. In the first two months of the training, they attended two five-day residentials, at the local hotel.

Teams are the primary unit of improving organisational performance by bringing together individuals with a variety skills, experience and knowledge to perform work and solve problems. The urgency to understand team functioning is at the forefront of business today as it is not practical for individual managers to make decisions in isolation (Proehl, 1997).

By defining and understanding the roles of managers within the team, an organisation can structure, compose or realign teams to improve individual, team and business performance. Furthermore, by improving the alignment of an individual’s personal characteristics, such as psychological type and natural team role, to their formal team role, the effectiveness and efficiency of the team can be enhanced (Belbin, 1996).

Management is the process of “control, coordination and development of economic activities, encompassing operational (internal) and external (strategic) domains” or simply “management is generally defined as the art of getting things done through and with people in formally organised groups

Organisations develop management structures to support the organization’s direction. The lines of managers range from Front Line to Senior Managers and are defined as follow:

Front Line Managers

Middle Managers
Senior Managers

Many people find managerial positions challenging due to the broad and extensive range of skills required to be an effective manager. The personal characteristics and traits of the manager will contribute to the approach adopted in working towards the completion of tasks. These skills are defined below.

Technical Skills

Computer Skills

Analytical skills

Human Relation Skills

Decision-Making Skills

Communication Skills
Conceptual Skills

DEFINING BELBIN’S TEAM ROLE MODEL

During the 1980’s Belbin studied management teams and developed a theory which endeavored to draw logical conclusions about what constitutes a successful and effective team. Belbin’s work in this area has made a significant contribution as most prior research focused on individual managers rather than teams. Belbin’s research was one of the most rigorous and extensive studies completed on team building and the model has become one of the most widely used approaches in forming teams today. The study looked at the personality characteristics and critical thinking abilities of members in order to compare successful and unsuccessful teams.

The Belbin Model is a robust and highly effective concept on teamwork that is the product of many years of research. British psychologist Dr Meredith Belbin has worked to achieve a coherent and accurate system that explains individual behaviour and its influence on team success. Belbin’s nine defined team roles for developing a successful and effective team are described in detail below:

Plant (PL)

Monitor Evaluator (ME)

Resource Investigator (RI)

Team Worker (TW)

Co-ordinator (CO)

Implementer (IMP)

Shaper (SH)

Completer Finisher (CF)

Specialist (SP)

PLANT

Advancing new ideas and strategies with special attention to major issues and looking for possible breaks in approach to the problem that the group is confronting. The title Plant was conceived when it was found that one of the best ways to improve the performance of an ineffective and uninspired team was to ‘plant’ a person of this type in it. The Plant can also be thought of as the team role that scatters the seeds which the others nourish until they bear fruit.

The danger with the Plant is that he or she will devote too much of their creative energy to ideas which may catch their fancy but do not fall in with the team’s needs or contribute to its objectives. They may be bad at accepting criticism of their own ideas and quick to take offence and sulk if their ideas are dissected or rejected

Strengths of the Plant

Creativity, ideas, good at problem-solving. This can help the management to create new methods of re-arranging the working method, in terms of: inventing new recipes, doing work in a wonderful manner and taking certain decisions on the spot.

Allowable weaknesses
Communicating ideas and sticking to the objectives – can have a butterfly mind that flits from one idea to another.

Think/discussion point

 Consider those you work with.
 Is there a Plant among them?
 How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths
and allowable weaknesses?

RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR

Exploring and reporting on ideas, developments and resources outside the group, creating external contacts that may be useful to the team and conducting negotiations. Probably the first team member to fill up their Filofax and the one who is uncomfortable if parted from their mobile telephone or Internet connection. The Resource Investigator is probably the most immediately likeable member of the team. Resource investigators are relaxed, sociable and gregarious, with an interest that is easily aroused. Their responses tend to be positive and enthusiastic, though they are prone to put things down as quickly as they pick them up.

Strengths of the resource investigator
Gregarious, has many contacts, enthusiastic, good communication skills. The RI will successfully liaise with any problems arising from the part of their clients and assuring them of the good image of the hotel thanks to their influential contacts.

Allowable weaknesses
Easily bored

Think/discussion point
Consider those you work with.
 Is there a Resource investigator among them?
 How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

COORDINATOR

Controlling the way in which the team moves forward towards the group objectives by making the best use of team resources; recognizing where the team’s strengths and weaknesses lie and ensuring the best use is made of each members potential.

Strengths of the Co-ordinator

Mature, confident, clarifies goals, and uses available talents. The coordinator shall make a good trainer say, for the fresh staff, and hence better communicate goals to them.

A tendency to be manipulative

Consider those you work with.

Is there a Co-ordinator among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

SHAPER

Shaping the way in which the team effort is applied, directing attention generally to the setting of objectives and priorities and seeking to impose some shape or pattern on group discussion and on the outcome of group activities.

Strengths of the Shaper

Dynamic, outgoing, challenging, tenacious. They even make friends easily and can know clients’ views and proposals upon the hotel’s service being offered including development prospects.

Prone to bursts of temper, insensitive

Consider those you work with.

Is there a Shaper among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

MONITOR EVALUATOR

Analysing problems, evaluating ideas and suggestions so that the team is better placed to take balanced decisions.
Strengths of the Monitor-Evaluator

Shrewd and objective. They make sure that they do whatever jobs they are told to do.

May be seen as boring and lacking drive.

Consider those you work with.

Is there a Monitor-Evaluator among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable
weaknesses?

TEAM WORKER

Supporting members in their strengths; e.g. Building on suggestions, underpinning members in their shortcomings, improving communications between members and fostering team spirit generally

Strengths of the Team Worker

Makes excellent relationships, accommodating, and
non-threatening. They learn the work easily.

Can be indecisive.

Consider those you work with.Is there a Team Worker among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

IMPLEMENTER

Turning concepts and ideas into practical working procedures; carrying out agreed plans systematically and efficiently.

Strengths of the implementer
Disciplined, reliable and efficient. They can be trustworthy and can keep confidential information.

Inflexible

Consider those you work with.
Is there an Implementer among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

COMPLETE FINISHER

Ensuring the team is protected as far as possible from mistakes of both commission and omission; actively searching for aspects of work that need a more than usual degree of attention; and maintaining a sense of urgency within the team.

Strengths of the Completer-Finisher
Attention to detail, meets deadlines and make sure that they meet targets.

Worries and can become over anxious and bogged down in detail.

Consider those you work with.

Is there a Completer-Finisher among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

SPECIALIST

Feeding technical information into the group. Translating from general into technical terms. Contributing a professional viewpoint on the subject under discussion.

Strengths of the Specialist
Single-minded, knowledgeable in his or her own field.

Can contribute on only it narrow front.

Consider those you work with.

Is there a Specialist among them?
How does this person(s) manifest the role’s strengths and allowable weaknesses?

The team role concept has been validated in both academic and organisational trials across the globe. When used in organisations, team role profiling has confirmed the special advantages of a full and balanced team.

Based on what you have read above, what do you think y our natural primary and secondary team roles are?
• Are there any roles that you are not equipped for

Belbin also suggests that people ask questions of themselves when they join a group:
1.Who am I in this group? What is my occupational role here? What are the role expectations of me? Am I here to listen or to lead? Am I a representative or present in my own right? Who is judging me on my role performance?

2. What is the influence pattern? Who has the power? What kind of power is it? Do I want to change the influence pattern? If so, how do I do it? 3. What are my needs and objectives? Are they in line with the group? Should they be? What do I do about them if they are not? If one of these needs is to be liked and accepted, how important is that for me?

Forming, storming, norming, performing

Groups mature and develop. Like individuals they have a fairly clearly defined growth cycle. This has been categorised as having four successive stages:

Forming
The group is not yet a group but a set of individuals. This stage is characterized by talk about the purpose of the group.
Storming
Most groups go through a conflict stage when the preliminary, and often false, consensus on purposes, on leadership and other roles, on norms of work and behavior, is challenged and re-established.

Norming
The group needs to establish norms and practices. When and how it should work, how it should take decisions, what type of behaviour, what level of work, what degree of openness, trust and confidence is appropriate.

Performing

Only when the three previous stages have been success fully completed will the group be at full maturity and be able to be fully and sensibly productive.

Insight to Belbin’s Theory

Belbin’s team role theory has become one of the most commonly used team building theories in business. The nine years of research supporting the theory provides organisations with confidence that is a valid and reliable instrument. From the extensive research conducted, Belbin has determined five key factors that are necessary to create an effective team and produce consistently good results. These are: • Each member works towards the achievement of goals and objectives by carrying out a functional

• A favorable equilibrium in a functional role and team role is needed although this is somewhat dependent on the goals and tasks;
• Team effectiveness is reliant on each member’s ability to accurately recognise and modify their contribution to the team;

• Personality and mental abilities of members may limit their chances of fulfilling various team roles; and
• A team can use its technical resources to full advantage only when it has the right balance and mix of team roles (Dulewicz, 1995).

It is important for organisations to recognise that:
– The composition of a team may need to differ as the organizations’ objectives will vary;

– Reorganizing long established management teams doesn’t happen overnight; and

– The introduction of team role evaluation in an organisation can take time with already established teams, although it may add instant value in creating project teams (Jay, 1980). Belbin’s research gave consideration to the development, training, qualifications and experience needed by teams to ensure that the strengths of individuals are optimised. His research provides organisations with an ability to review and assess the psychological, motivational, composition and behaviours needed by members to foster effective team work and hence improve operational performance (Jay, 1980).

Hospitality Managers categorised by Belbin’s Team Roles

In all, Hospitality staff surveyed responded to the study thus showing a response rate of 91.7%. Of these 23.4% were categorised as Company Worker’s (CW), followed by Shaper’s (SH) 18.0%, Completer Finisher’s (CF) 13.5% and Chairman (CH) 12.6%. The Plant (PL) demonstrated low representation amongst the senior management teams with only 2.7% of respondents fulfilling this important role. The Belbin Team Roles portrayed by the cohort are reflective of a typical hospitality management team which are generally composed of operational managers who are primarily focused on the front line functioning of the hotel.

The need to recruit employees who acquire the skills to efficiently and effectively service the needs and wants of their guests demonstrates why the majority of the training were classified as Company Workers (CW) (23.4%), Complete Finishers (CF) (13.5%) and Team Workers (TW) (11.7%) within Belbin’s team role model:

Belbin’s Team Roles and dimensions influencing them

Criticisms of the Belbin Team Role Model

Initially, Furnham and his colleagues understood Belbin’s theory as one in which the various team roles that individuals fulfil in a team and the team’s ability to function effectively is dependent on the team’s composition (Furnham et al, 1993). Furnham et al (1993) subsequently carried out three studies to verify the psychometric properties of Belbin’s questionnaire as they harboured uncertainty about its reliability and validity. From their study, Furnham et al (1993) arrived at three conclusions with regard to the Belbin.

These are:

The test was impassive (forced choice answer questionnaire which skews the respondent’s choices in answering the questions);

The sequence in which the questions were asked was too broad therefore losing specific focus on groups, and

The measure was neither theoretically nor empirically
derived.

limitations to using the Belbin Team Role Assessment:

1. Specifically designed for teams

2. Designed to be used in a work setting

3. Measures behaviors, not personality

4. Has a Cultural Bias

The last and most significant criticism is that in research were the authors do link the BTRSPI with observation of a team’s behaviour, the research
participants are not real decision makers from an organisation. It seems that the use of university undergraduate students is the primary source of research participants in the field of group processes and decision making in teams. This drawback is sometimes mentioned by the authors themselves, e.g. Fisher & Macrosson (1995: 14) and Leonard, Scholl & Kowalski (1999: 419).

The honorable exception to this criticism is Senior & Swailes (1998).However, in this research the observation was done by peer review and not by an objective third part. Personal emotions or other organisational elements such as the positions the members hold could therefore get in the way of an objective observation.


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