Belbin Team Roles

The term “team” is frequently used to describe a group of people who report to a single person.  However, as a result of the pioneering work of Meredith Belbin, the nature of teams and of teamwork has become much better understood.

At the heart of Belbin’s research was the recognition that people what people contribute to a team is different to the way in which they contribute.  He described these two roles as the “Functional Role” and the “Team Role”.

The Functional Role describes a persons experience, their technical skills, the job they do or the department they head, whereas their Team Role describes a pattern of behaviour, their approach and the way in which they interact with other people.

It is the Team Roles that was the focus of Meredith Belbin’s research and it is this aspect that the questionnaire is designed to assess.

As a result of his research, Belbin concluded that different people have a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in nine different ways.  These nine characteristics are illustrated below:

For each characteristic, Belbin identified the particular strengths they bring to the team and also their weaknesses.  He termed the weaknesses “allowable weaknesses”, because these are the inverse of their strengths.  For example, an allowable weakness of someone who is very good at seeing the big picture would be that they may not be very good at focusing in on the detail.

Team Role

 

Contribution

Allowable weaknesses

Plant

 

Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems.

Ignores details.
Too preoccupied to communicate effectively.

Resource Investigator

 

Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative.
Explores opportunities.
Develops contacts.

Over-optimistic.
Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.

Co-ordinator

 

Mature, confident, a good chairperson.
Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.

Can be seen as manipulative. Delegates personal work.

Shaper

 

Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Can provoke others. Intolerant.
Hurts people’s feelings.

Monitor Evaluator

 

Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options.
Judges accurately.

Lacks drive and ability to inspire others.
Overly critical.

Team Worker 

 

Co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts friction, calms the waters.

Indecisive in crunch situations. Can be easily influenced.

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.
Can be a nit-picker.

Specialist

 

Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated. Provides rare knowledge and skills.

Contributes on only a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities. Overlooks the ‘big picture’.

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