Collaboration: Team role skills

Purpose: To provide an understanding of the different kinds of skills that individuals bring to team-work, along with the strengths and weaknesses associated with each skill.

Description: The basis of this tool is that, for a team to be effective, team members need to have complementary behaviours. The Belbin team roles identify nine clusters of such behaviours and they are described below.

Individuals can bring more than one cluster of behaviours to the team and evidence suggests most people have two or three Belbin team roles that they are most comfortable with. Each role is considered to be equally important and each has strengths and weaknesses. Different roles are likely to be required at different times during a team’s work and this will be determined by the objectives of the teamwork.

The nine Belbin team roles (taken from https://www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/) are:

Resource Investigator
Uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team.
Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.
Allowable weaknesses: Might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They might forget to follow up on a lead.”

Teamworker
Helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.
Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be indecisive in crunch situations and tends to avoid confrontation.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.”

Co-ordinator
Needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.
Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They might over-delegate, leaving themselves little work to do.”

Plant
Tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.
Strengths: Creative, imaginative, free-thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems.
Allowable weaknesses: Might ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be absent-minded or forgetful.”

Monitor Evaluator
Provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.
Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately.
Allowable weaknesses: Sometimes lacks the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be slow to come to decisions.”

Specialist
Brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team.
Strengths: Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills.
Allowable weaknesses: Tends to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They overload you with information.”

Shaper
Provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.
Strengths: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done.”

Implementer
Needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.
Strengths: Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes.”

Completer Finisher
Most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.
Strengths: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate.
Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be accused of taking their perfectionism to extremes.”

Understanding these skills can help teams choose appropriate members and understand some sources of friction.

Source: Team role skills were originally developed by Meredith Belbin and colleagues in investigating how business management teams functioned. Commercial psychometric tests are available to enable teams to assess the team role skills of their members. For more information see: https://www.belbin.com/.

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Posted: November 2021
Last modified: November 2021