What Role do You Play in Your Team?

Have you ever found yourself in a team that doesn’t really talk about what’s going on, or where some people are stronger and louder than others, who don’t feel confident about speaking up? That sort of team won’t be as productive as the team that can discuss issues and build on the strengths of the individuals.

There are many tools that you can use to improve how teams of people work together. Belbin Team Roles is just one of them that I have seen used very effectively, so we’ll explore it in this blog.

Belbin Team Roles were identified by Meredith Belbin and assess how an individual behaves in a team environment. They are not equivalent to personality types that you might have come across with tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Belbin scores people on how strongly they express behavioural traits from nine different Team Roles. Most people will show strong tendencies towards one or more of the roles.

Here’s a quick explanation of each role and how they are likely to interact with other people.

Plant – Plants are creative and love generating ideas. If an innovative solution to a problem is needed, a Plant is a good person to ask. A good Plant will be free-thinking, but they often have a hard time communicating ideas to others. Too many Plants in a team can result in too many ideas being generated, without the impetus to follow the ideas through to action. Plants can also create problems with the timing of their ideas, often coming up with new ideas after the team has agreed on a plan of action.

Resource Investigator – The Resource Investigator is great at getting new projects started within a team, through their rush of enthusiasm. Where a Plant comes up with a new idea, a Resource Investigator will quite happily take ideas from other people. A good Resource Investigator creates possibilities and is great at networking, but they tend to lose momentum towards the end of a project and may forget to follow things up.

Co-ordinator – A Co-ordinator will make a great chairperson for the team, since they have a talent for stepping back to see the big picture. Co-ordinators are confident, stable and mature and because they recognise abilities in others, they are very good at delegating tasks to the right person for the job. The Co-ordinator clarifies decisions, helping everyone else to focus on their tasks. Co-ordinators can sometimes be seen as manipulative and like to delegate all the work, so that all they have to do is delegate!

Shaper – The Shaper is task-focused, going after objectives with lots of energy and the need to achieve. Winning is the name of the game. The Shaper provides the drive to make sure that the team keeps moving and doesn’t lose focus or momentum. They challenge the team to improve rather than become complacent. They are usually extraverts but risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done. Shapers often see obstacles as challenges and they have the courage to push on when others feel like quitting.

Monitor Evaluator – Monitor Evaluators are observers and judges of what’s going on in the team. They are often the ones to see all available options with the greatest clarity and impartiality. They take a broad view when problem-solving. By moving slowly and analytically, they will almost always come to the right decision. However, they can become very critical, damping enthusiasm for anything without logical grounds, and they have a hard time inspiring themselves or others to be passionate about their work.

Teamworker – A Teamworker is the oil in the cogs that keeps the team machine running smoothly. They are good listeners and diplomats, great at smoothing over conflicts and helping people to understand each other. The role can be low-profile so the beneficial effect of a Teamworker can go unnoticed and unappreciated until they are absent, when the team begins to argue and small but important things cease to happen. Unwilling to take sides, a Teamworker may not be able to take decisive action when it’s needed.

Implementer – The Implementer takes their colleagues’ suggestions and ideas and turns them into positive action. They are efficient and self-disciplined and can always be relied on to deliver on time. They are motivated by their loyalty to the team, so they will often take on jobs that everyone else avoids. However, because they will often have difficulty deviating from their own well-thought-out plans, they can appear inflexible.

Completer Finisher – The Completer Finisher is a perfectionist and will often go the extra mile to make sure that everything is ‘just right’. What they deliver will have been double-checked and then checked again. The Completer Finisher has a strong sense of the need for accuracy and set their own high standards. They may frustrate their teammates by worrying about minor details and by refusing to delegate tasks that they don’t trust anyone else to do.

Specialist – Specialists are passionate about learning in their own particular field. As a result, they are likely to be a fountain of knowledge and will enjoy sharing it with others. They also strive to improve and build upon their expertise. If there is anything that they don’t know the answer to, they’ll find it out. Specialists bring a high level of concentration, ability and skill to the team, but can only contribute on that specialism and may not be interested in anything else.

So which Role or Roles are you? Can you identify the other roles within your teams? When you understand the roles that other people play you’ll be able to see better ways to communicate with them and achieve more as a team.

I use Belbin Team Roles to help some of my clients to see the differences between the people within their teams. If you’d like to talk about how Belbin Team Roles could be used to help your teams become more efficient, call me on 01483 303 593 or click here to email me.

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