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What is a team role? A team role as defined by Dr Meredith Belbin is:

"A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way."

Belbin team roles describe a pattern of behaviour that characterises one person’s behaviour in relationship to another in facilitating the progress of a team. The value of Belbin team-role theory lies in enabling an individual or team to benefit from self-knowledge and adjust according to the demands being made by the external situation.

How did the concept originate?
During a period of over nine years, Meredith Belbin and his team of researchers based at Henley Management College, England, studied the behaviour of managers from all over the world. Managers taking part in the study were given a battery of psychometric tests and put into teams of varying composition, while they were engaged in a complex management exercise. Their different core personality traits, intellectual styles and behaviours were assessed during the exercise. As time progressed different clusters of behaviour were identified as underlying the success of the teams. These successful clusters of behaviour were then given names. Hence the emergence of nine team roles.

These are:
Action-oriented roles - Shaper, Implementer, and Completer Finisher
People-oriented roles - Co-ordinator, Teamworker and Resource Investigator
Cerebral roles - Plant, Monitor Evaluator and Specialist

BELBIN Team-Role Type Contributions Allowable Weaknesses
PLANT Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems. Ignores incidentals. Too pre-occupied to communicate effectively.
CO-ORDINATOR Mature, confident, a good chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well Can often be seen as manipulative. Off loads personal work.
MONITOR EVALUATOR Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options. Judges accurately. Lacks drive and ability to inspire others.
IMPLEMENTER Disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical actions Somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to new possibilities.
COMPLETER FINISHER Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors and omissions. Delivers on time. Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delegate.
RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts. Over - optimistic. Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
SHAPER Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. The drive and courage to overcome obstacles. Prone to provocation. Offends people's feelings.
TEAMWORKER Co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts friction. Indecisive in crunch situations.
SPECIALIST Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated. Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply. Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities.

Results from this research showed that there are a finite number of behaviours or TEAM ROLES which comprise certain patterns of behaviour which can be adopted naturally by the various personality types found among people at work. The accurate delineation of these TEAM ROLES is critical in understanding the dynamics of any management or work team.

Have you always wondered what your Belbin profile might look like?

Are you interested in finding out how your colleagues view your contribution to the team?

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