belbins-team-roles

Belbin’s Team Roles

Belbin’s team roles were developed by Dr. R. Meredith Belbin in 1981. Belbin, a British management consultant, spent nine years researching the strengths and weaknesses of teams and how their performance could be improved.

Understanding Belbin’s team roles

Belbin’s team roles describe different clusters of behavioral attributes that individuals may exhibit within teams.

In his book Management Teams: Why They Succeed Or Fail, Belbin outlined several roles that individuals tend to exhibit within teams.

These roles represent clusters of behavioral attributes that define how people interact, with Belbin noting that the most successful teams were those that had a diversity of characters and personality types.

The nine team roles, according to Belbin

Before we delve into the nine roles, it’s important to note that Belbin defined a role as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.”

Note that the nine roles are also spread across three categories: action-oriented, people-oriented, and cerebral.

Action-oriented roles

  1. The Shaper – dynamic, driven individuals who can motivate themselves and instill passion in others. Shapers remain positive, thrive under pressure, and are naturally results-oriented leaders. 
  2. The Implementer – practical individuals who prefer structure, order, and discipline. These are the sort of employees who put the needs of the organization above their own.
  3. The Completer – introverted team members who are detail-oriented and may also be perfectionists. Their tendencies make them ideal process, task, or product auditors.

People-oriented roles

  1. The Resource Investigator – these are curious and enthusiastic employees who use their inquisitive nature to discover new ideas that benefit the team.
  2. The Team Worker –  as the name suggests, team workers are those who strive for collaboration and unity. They are highly perceptive and excel at helping colleagues resolve their differences and work toward a common goal.
  3. The Coordinator – coordinators ensure the team is focused on its objectives and are well versed in matching team member talent to the most appropriate tasks. These individuals have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and employ a democratic approach when in a leadership position. 

Cerebral (thought-oriented) roles

  1. The Monitor Evaluator – these team members make decisions based on facts and rational thinking. Whilst they may come across as overtly cold or serious, their objectivity and critical thinking skills are vital to strategic planning and problem-solving.
  2. The Specialist – specialists bring expertise on a particular topic to the team and act as the authority on various technical and practical considerations.
  3. The Plant – these employees are best able to solve complex problems with creative, imaginative, and sometimes unconventional solutions. Like the two other cerebral roles, Belbin noted that plants prefer to work alone.

Interpreting Belbin’s team roles

While Belbin did not provide explicit detail on how his roles should be interpreted,  organizations should categorize each individual within a team to ensure it is balanced and effective.

In other words, is there an appropriate mix of the various roles?

Imagine a team comprised predominantly of shapers where each team member is constantly jostling to exert control the others.

What about a team full of completers and implementers who would prefer to stick to the rules and avoid creative solutions?

The introverted nature of implementers may also cause the team to lack the social skills to interact with key stakeholders.

When an organization discovers that a team is unbalanced, Belbin’s roles can be used to shape recruitment procedures to ensure the correct mix of talent is present.

Key takeaways:

  • Belbin’s team roles describe different clusters of behavioral attributes that individuals may exhibit within teams. They were developed by management consultant Dr. R. Meredith Belbin in 1981.
  • Belbin identified nine roles and categorized them according to whether they were people-oriented, action-oriented, or cerebral. The nine roles include the Shaper, Implementer, Completer, Resource Investigator, Team Worker, Coordinator, Monitor Evaluator, Specialist, and Plant.
  • Organizations should use Belbin’s work to ensure their teams are balanced and are comprised of an ideal mix of roles. 

Connected Management Frameworks

Change Management

change-management

Change Management

change-management
Change is an important and necessary fact of life for all organizations. But change is often unsuccessful because the people within organizations are resistant to change. Change management is a systematic approach to managing the transformation of organizational goals, values, technologies, or processes.

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model

kotters-8-step-change-model
Harvard Business School professor Dr. John Kotter has been a thought-leader on organizational change, and he developed Kotter’s 8-step change model, which helps business managers deal with organizational change. Kotter created the 8-step model to drive organizational transformation.

McKinsey’s Seven Degrees

mckinseys-seven-degrees
McKinsey’s Seven Degrees of Freedom for Growth is a strategy tool. Developed by partners at McKinsey and Company, the tool helps businesses understand which opportunities will contribute to expansion, and therefore it helps to prioritize those initiatives.

McKinsey 7-S Model

mckinsey-7-s-model
The McKinsey 7-S Model was developed in the late 1970s by Robert Waterman and Thomas Peters, who were consultants at McKinsey & Company. Waterman and Peters created seven key internal elements that inform a business of how well positioned it is to achieve its goals, based on three hard elements and four soft elements.

Lewin’s Change Management

lewins-change-management-model
Lewin’s change management model helps businesses manage the uncertainty and resistance associated with change. Kurt Lewin, one of the first academics to focus his research on group dynamics, developed a three-stage model. He proposed that the behavior of individuals happened as a function of group behavior.

ADKAR Model

adkar-model
The ADKAR model is a management tool designed to assist employees and businesses in transitioning through organizational change. To maximize the chances of employees embracing change, the ADKAR model was developed by author and engineer Jeff Hiatt in 2003. The model seeks to guide people through the change process and importantly, ensure that people do not revert to habitual ways of operating after some time has passed.

Force-Field Analysis

force-field-analysis
Social psychologist Kurt Lewin developed the force-field analysis in the 1940s. The force-field analysis is a decision-making tool used to quantify factors that support or oppose a change initiative. Lewin argued that businesses contain dynamic and interactive forces that work together in opposite directions. To institute successful change, the forces driving the change must be stronger than the forces hindering the change.

Business Innovation Matrix

business-innovation
Business innovation is about creating new opportunities for an organization to reinvent its core offerings, revenue streams, and enhance the value proposition for existing or new customers, thus renewing its whole business model. Business innovation springs by understanding the structure of the market, thus adapting or anticipating those changes.

Posci Change Management

prosci-change-management
According to Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt, the secret to successful change “lies beyond the visible and busy activities that surround change. Successful change, at its core, is rooted in something much simpler: how to facilitate change with one person.”

Read Next: Change Management.

Main Guides:

Scroll to Top
FourWeekMBA