Some organisations are quite prescriptive when building teams and will use team role theories to ‘build’ what they believe is the best performing team for a particular project. A widely recognised team role theory was suggested by Belbin in 1981. Belbin believes
that each of us possesses a pattern of behaviour that characterises one person’s behaviour in relationship to another in facilitating the progress of a team. Dr Meredith Belbin defines a team role as:
“A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.
There are nine main roles, two of which are possible leaders, and a ninth specialist role. All the roles are significant, though some have a higher profile than others; exactly which ones matter most depends a lot on the circumstances – size of the team, nature of the task, stage of team development and so on. Teams can work even with missing roles, but to work at their best they need:
Shapers are people who challenge the team to improve.
They are dynamic and usually extroverted people who enjoy stimulating others, questioning norms, and finding the best approaches for solving problems. Shapers often see obstacles as exciting challenges and they tend to have the courage to push on when others feel like quitting. Their potential weaknesses may be that they’re argumentative, and that they may offend people’s feelings.
Implementers are the people who get things done. They turn the team’s ideas and concepts into practical actions and plans.
They are typically conservative, disciplined people who work systematically and efficiently and are very well organized..
On the downside, Implementers may be inflexible and can be somewhat resistant to change.
Completer-Finishers are the people who see that projects are completed thoroughly. They ensure there have been no errors or omissions and they pay attention to the smallest of details. They are very concerned with deadlines and will push the team to make sure the job is completed on time. However, a Completer-Finisher may worry unnecessarily, and may find it hard to delegate.
Coordinators are the ones who take on the traditional team-leader role and have also been referred to as the chairmen. They guide the team to what they perceive are the objectives. They are often excellent listeners and they are naturally able to recognize the value that each team member brings to the table. They are calm and good-natured, and delegate tasks very effectively.
Team Workers are the people who provide support and make sure that people within the team are working together effectively.. These tend to be popular people who are very capable in their own right, but who prioritize team cohesion and helping people get along.
Their weaknesses may be a tendency to be indecisive, and to maintain uncommitted positions during discussions and decision-making.
Resource Investigators are innovative and curious. They explore available options, develop contacts, and negotiate for resources on behalf of the team. They are enthusiastic team members, They are outgoing and are often extroverted, meaning that others are often receptive to them and their ideas.
On the downside, they may lose enthusiasm quickly, and are often overly optimistic.
The Plant is the creative innovator who comes up with new ideas and approaches. They thrive on praise but criticism is especially hard for them to deal with. Plants are often introverted and prefer to work apart from the team.
Monitor-Evaluators are best at analyzing and evaluating ideas that other people (often Plants) come up with. Monitor-Evaluators are critical thinkers and very strategic in their approach. They are often perceived as detached or unemotional. Sometimes they are poor motivators who react to events rather than instigating them
Specialists are people who have specialized knowledge that is needed to get the job done. They pride themselves on their skills and abilities, and they work to maintain their professional status. Their job within the team is to be an expert in the area, and they commit themselves fully to their field of expertise.
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