Following detailed studies of teams Dr. Meredith Belbin observed that when people are placed in teams, they behave in a particular manner. Some of these behaviours will help the team achieve its objectives and others will not. Belbin concluded that effective teams need their members to carry out nine roles. A team member can carry out more than one role. Belbin's nine team roles are:
The co-ordinator takes on the role of the chair person and team leader. They will step back and assess the overall situation. A co-ordinator effectively delegate tasks to team members. They are often good listeners and understand team members. A co-ordinator's weakness may be that they reduce their own work load by delegating too many tasks to others. Some co-ordinators can also be accused of being manipulative.
A shaper motivates the team into achieving their objectives, they view obstacles as challenges. Another name for shaper is strategist because they are always on the hunt for solutions, refusing to give up when other team members may be ready to do so. A shaper wants the team to continuously improve and stops them from becoming complacent.
This person comes up with innovative ideas for the team, they will usually think outside accepted parameters and conventional ways to do things. Plants help teams innovate but too many plants in a team will stop the team staying on track as they tend to ignore constraints. Plants are often poor communicators who prefer to work alone.
Every team needs an analyst. The Monitor analyses the situation, weighing up the reasons for and against doing things. They are good at assessing without getting emotionally involved. A monitor can keep the team from making costly mistakes but they can also be guilty of destroying team enthusiasm and being overly critical of the team's ideas.
A resource investigator's role is to liaise outside of the team. A resource investigator has good interpersonal skills and is an extrovert ( i.e. "outgoing"). A resource investigator will persuade people outside the team to provide the team with resources and complete tasks for them. A resource investigator will often start tasks with lots of enthusiasm but may find it difficult to maintain motivation throughout the task.
Team workers are hardworking, they hold the team together and help them achieve objectives. They will help the team resolve conflicts and provide support when and where it is needed. However as a team worker is diplomatic they may find it difficult to be decisive especially when a decision may upset others.
An implementer takes the team's ideas and puts them into practice. They ensure that plans are completed, even if they have to complete tasks they do not like. An implementer is very organised and likes to meet deadlines. However this strength can also be a weakness, making implementers inflexible and resistant to change.
Teams may need a specialist to complete a specific task. A specialist will have expert knowledge and skills in a particular field. They work hard to maintain their specialism and will want others to know about their specialism. A specialist can differentiate a team from its competitors by providing unique skills. However a specialist is often unwilling to support the team in areas outside their specialism.
This person wants to make sure that everything is completed fully and accurately. A completer finisher is a "perfectionist" who wants tasks to be completed on time. As a completer finisher aims for perfection, they may find it difficult to delegate tasks to others.
Belbin's team roles should help managers create balanced teams with the skills required to achieve their objectives. The theory may also help managers identify when a team member's strength is turning into a weakness, so that they can deal with it before it affects team performance.