Belbin Team Roles: Theory & Practice

Your team is successful because of these reasons. Why is your team failing to succeed? Dr. Belbin has the answer. Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin is the foremost authority on team roles. His research over 40 years has shown that team roles are more important than individual intelligence. The Big Book of Team Culture
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Belbin’s research resulted in several personality tests that allowed experts to determine whether an individual is destined to be a business star. The people who passed with flying colors were smarter and had better analytical skills than others. They also performed better in almost all aspects. The next step in the research was to create an elite team of these exceptional individuals. Belbin called them the Apollo team. Everyone was optimistic that the Apollo team would be successful because of their superstars. It turned out that the Apollo team, made up of the most powerful individuals, was not as effective as they thought. In fact, it performed worse than regular teams. They spent a lot of time debating and trying convince others that their view was correct. Each member loved to find flaws in the other’s arguments and no one was willing change their view. While the team was unable to reach a consensus, other pressing tasks were neglected.
The Apollo team experiment demonstrated that balance is key to good teams. Over the course of years, Belbin defined nine possible team roles, which he categorized into three groups:Action-Oriented Roles
Action-oriented roles are focused on improving team performance, putting ideas into practice, and meeting deadlines. These are the three action-oriented roles:Shaper – an extrovert who questions assumptions
Implementer – Brings self-discipline to team
Completer Finisher – Pays attention to the smallest details and ensures things get done right
Roles that are People-Oriented
People-oriented roles bring people together. The three people-oriented roles include:Coordinator – brings order to the team
Team worker – Provides support to the team in diplomatic manner
Resource Investigator – Develops outside contacts
Roles that are thought-oriented
These roles are thought-oriented and can help to analyze options and provide technical expertise. These are the three roles that are considered cerebral:Plant – comes up with new, ground-breaking solutions.Monitor evaluator is responsible for critically and analytically assessing team decisions.Specialist – experts in a particular subject. Each role has its own set of characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.
It is ideal to have one person for each role in order to have a cohesive team. To make this happen, however, you will need at least 9 people. Small businesses often work with smaller teams.

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