Belbin Team Roles

Dr. Meredith Belbin is well known for his team roles concept. The team roles identified by Belbin are based on certain patterns of behaviour that people exhibit within teams. These patterns of behaviour can potentially have an impact on the performance of the team. The basic premise of the Belbin team roles theory is quite simple. When individuals become aware of their own strengths and abilities, and understand the role that he or she is capable of playing within a team, it helps them to deal better with the demands of the team environment.

Belbin’s team roles are based on a study that examined personality traits, intellectual styles and behaviours within teams. The team roles evolved from the clusters or patterns of these that emerged during the study. Initially defined as 8 roles, the Belbin model now sports 9 roles, the new one being the ‘Specialist’. The 9 team roles are usually further classified into Action oriented, People oriented and Cerebral roles. Given below are the 9 roles outlined in the Belbin team roles model and the descriptions that explain the scope of each role:

Action Oriented Role:

  • Implementer – The implementer’s strength lies in translating the team’s decisions and ideas into manageable and practical tasks or actions.
  • Shaper – The shaper’s strength lies in being goal directed. The shaper is a dynamic individual who boldly challenges others during discussions, can handle work pressures and has the courage to overcome obstacles.
  • Completer/Finisher – The completer/finisher’s strength lies in meticulousness, attention to detail and the ability to meet deadlines.

People Skills Oriented Role:

  • Co-ordinator – The co-ordinator’s strength lies in enabling and facilitating interaction and decision making.
  • Teamworker – The teamworker’s strength lies in being a good listener, being collaborative, co-operative, easy going and tactful.
  • Resource Investigator – The resource investigator’s strength lies in being an extrovert who can develop contacts, communicate well, explore new ideas and opportunities, and bring enthusiasm and drive to the team effort.

Cerebral/Intellectual Role:

  • Planter – The planter’s strength lies in problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking.
  • Monitor/Evaluator – The monitor/evaluator’s strength lies in good judgment and good strategic thinking ability.
  • Specialist – The specialist’s strength lies in being a dedicated and focused individual who likes to learn and constantly build his or her knowledge. The specialist likes to dig deep and is therefore a good resource who can contribute information and knowledge in a team situation.

Analysis of Belbin Team Roles

Belbin’s roles are identified based on a series of statements that constitute the ‘Self-Perception Inventory’ (SPI). The statements have to be answered by an individual based on personal perceptions of what he or she would do in different team situations. Based on the statements that you pick, and the weight that you assign to those statements, the final scores are computed. What you get is a score for each of the roles. The roles where you score high are the ones that define your natural inclination within a team. A person can have strengths in more than one role and deficiencies or weaknesses in many of the other roles.

For instance, a person can be a good Implementer and a good Co-ordinator but a very poor Completer/Finisher. This means the individual’s natural inclination during teamwork is to facilitate interaction and decision making, that he or she is also capable of stepping in to translate the team’s decisions into reality. But on the flip side, the person may be lacking as far as attention to detail goes.

Click to read an example – The practical use of Belbin’s theory


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