Belbins Team Roles - 
Teamwork Theory Overview

Belbins Team Roles Model is one of the more famous teamwork theories.

Here we share some thoughts from a renowned corporate pyschologist on its relevance, plus you can find out more about the nine team member roles in Belbins model.

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 worked to achieve a coherent and accurate system that explains individual behaviour and its influence on team success.

The article below is provided courtesy of Sabre HQ, a team building company with offices in Australia, USA, New Zealand and the Middle East. Sabre HQ collaborate with Dr David Marriott (a colleague of Belbin and an expert on his work) to offer their clients detailed team role profiling and reporting for corporate teams and managers.

Team Building, Team Roles and Team Dynamics

with Dr Marriott

Dr David Marriott, internationally renowned corporate psychologist and expert in team and management development, shares some thoughts on the famous Belbins Team Roles Model and its relevance for teams into the next century.

In my experience there are few organisations in any field of work where the major decisions are made by one person.

Rather the running of any successful operation necessitates the collaboration of a team of people from different backgrounds and with unique personality and thinking styles, who interact as peers, pooling their ideas, judgement and plans.

The success of their endeavours hinges on the behaviour, talents, balance and cohesion of this management team.

“What is needed is not well balanced individuals; but individuals who balance well with each other.” 

~Dr Meredith Belbin

The work of Dr Meredith Belbin is a significant contribution to our understanding of how human organisations work, and how to make them work better.

Belbins Team Roles Research Project

Over a seven year period a team of psychologists, under his direction, assessed individual managers from all over the world. Their different personality traits, intellectual abilities and behaviour during a variety of management assignments were carefully evaluated.

Results of this research showed that there are a finite number of Management Styles or Team Roles, and that these Team Roles comprise certain patterns of related behaviour which can be adopted naturally by the various personality types found in organisations.

The accurate delineation of these Team Roles is critical to the study of management team effectiveness.

So what are the nine roles that Belbin identified?

The Nine Belbins Team Roles

  1. Plant (PL)
    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.
  2. Resource Investigator (RI)
    Exploring and reporting on ideas, developments and resources outside the group, creating external contacts that may be useful to the team and conducting negotiations.
  3. Co-ordinator (CO)
    Controlling the way in which the team moves forward towards the group objectives by making the best use of team resources; recognising where the team's strengths and weaknesses lie and ensuring the best use is made of each members potential.
  4. Shaper (SH)
    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.
  5. Monitor Evaluator (ME)
    Analysing problems, evaluating ideas and suggestions so that the team is better placed to take balanced decisions.
  6. Team Worker (TW)
    Supporting members in their strengths; eg. Building on suggestions, underpinning members in their shortcomings, improving communications between members and fostering team spirit generally.
  7. Implementer (IMP)
    Turning concepts and ideas into practical working procedures; carrying out agreed plans systematically and efficiently.
  8. Completer Finisher (CF)
    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.
  9. Specialist (SP)
    Feeding technical information into the group. Translating from general into technical terms. Contributing a professional viewpoint on the subject under discussion.

Contribution to Team Success

Belbins team roles cover the types of individual behaviour at work in a team. But how can they be used to build teamwork and contribute to team success?

There are two important elements in Belbin's analysis:

  • the recognition that human strengths usually bring countervailing weaknesses, and
  • that some combinations of these roles have a greater probability of team success than others. Some achieve complementary productivity where others are likely to result in intra group competition.

Many of us have seen that “Nobody's Perfect - But A Team Can Be” and we have seen a team produce a quality and quantity of work far higher than the sum of what the separate members could have produced on their own.

Using Belbins Team Roles

It follows that in organisations where priority is given to the selection, training and development of teams, to their psychology, motivation and composition, these organisations will out-perform those in which teams are composed merely according to the functional roles that are needed.

The people in an organisation are its most important resource.

Reliable, wide ranging information about their behaviour will be the key to successful enterprise leadership in the 21st century.

Using Belbins team roles model with its nine different patterns of behaviour provides an excellent means of assessing and predicting both individual and team performance, building perfect teams and a means of matching people to people and people to jobs.

Thanks again to Sabre HQ for providing this content. See Sabre HQ's listing in our team building directory or visit their website for more information.

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