Leadership Solutions

SHAPER: The Pace Maker
Dynamic, Challenging, Thrives on pressure.
Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
Is this one of your Team Roles?

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The Benefits:

By providing a common, non-threatening and positive team language, Belbin enables individuals and teams to communicate and work together with greater understanding. This language and knowledge can be used to bring a new team together or to make an existing team more motivated and effective. It provides a base from which the organisation can can follow a consistent approach to build effective team based management systems.

Why Teams?

In an increasingly complex and information rich world, the value of collaboration is growing in importance. More and more work is being undertaken by teams rather than by individuals.

Teams Enable:
• Recognition and use of each person’s unique contribution
• Most effective ‘data collection’ in rapidly changing situations
• Engagement and satisfaction that meets the social needs of individuals and the group
• Improved interpersonal communications allowing more energy to be directed into the task
• Efficient assignment of work drawing on members’ strengths and expertise
• Quality decision making through the ‘wisdom of teams’

However, while all teams are groups of individuals,
not all groups of individuals are teams.

Simply putting together a number of people and expecting them to work together as a team is not enough.

There is technique in teamwork – and it can be done well or done poorly.

When done well, an effective team can outperform all reasonable expectations given to its individual members. That is, a team has a synergistic effect – where one plus one equals a lot more than two. This is especially so when the skills, perspectives and experiences of team members are diverse yet complementary. This diversity enables teams to respond effectively to most challenges thrown their way.

Effective teamwork increases productivity, encourages engagement,
spurs innovation and builds morale.

However, when done poorly, teams can become catalysts of communication breakdowns, unclear role boundaries, a lack of focus, poor work allocation, people in the wrong roles and process bottlenecks. If left unchecked, there are obvious implications for productivity, performance, cost, motivation and morale in the workplace. Ultimately this hampers the success of all involved - the individual, the team and the organisation.

If we’re going to build teams, we need to build them well. It is here that
Belbin Team Role Theory can help…

Why Belbin?

Effective teamwork results when all its members work as teamplayers – where every player understands how important it is for them all to co-operate and work towards a common goal if they want to be successful. When all do their jobs well, this will increase what the team can accomplish. Key to this is knowing what each person brings to the team mix – both functional and behavioural:

Functional Role
Team Role
The job we have been hired to do, based upon our ability, experience and skill
Our tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate in certain ways
What we do...
And how we do it...

It is easier to work effectively with people when you are given some expectations of their tendencies and preferences. And by providing a common, non-threatening and meaningful team language, Belbin enables individuals and teams to communicate and work together with greater understanding. This language can be used to bring a new team together or make an existing team more effective and lift its motivation. Crucially Team Roles provide common terms of reference for all members of the team. This allows them to openly discuss their strengths and weaknesses without conflict and to deploy and manage these most efficiently.

The Belbin model is a well researched behaviour based approach that lays the foundations for sustainable team based management systems. Belbin Team Role theory is built on the following premises:

• Equipping team members with the knowledge of where each individual fits in releases the team energy into the task - rather than expending it on working out how to get on with - as well as how to get the best out of - each other.

• All of us have preferred ways of behaving in group and team situations – and these are expressed as Team Roles. While we can draw on all Team Roles, typically we will use two or three most frequently and most effectively.

• The team can be greater than the sum of its parts – it can achieve synergy. No one can be expected to be good at everything. That is why we need each other. Diversity in a team spells strength.

The Team Roles Equation:

Belbin’s nine Team Roles can be categorised into three groups:

Thinking Oriented, Action Oriented and People Oriented

High performance teams require the right mix or balance of these roles. Focusing on each component in isolation, or ignoring one in favour of another, is not sufficient. Effective interpersonal understanding and interactions are necessary to ensure these assets translate into productivity.

A Balance of Thinking + Action + People Roles = Productivity and Performance


Who Uses Belbin?
  • Individuals who want to understand their contributions to a team and 'strengthen their strengths': Using a positive and everyday language to describe the talents we each bring to a team, Belbin reports will help you understand who you are and how you work and highlight individual development actions that will ‘strengthen your strengths’. By identifying our Team Roles, we can develop our self-awareness and ensure that we use our strengths to advantage while managing our weaknesses as best we can.

  • Teams who wish to identify their strengths and allowable weaknesses to help achieve better results and be more effective: When individuals share their Team Roles knowledge within a team, the real value of Belbin Team Roles to the organisation becomes apparent: individuals within a team learn to understand the roles that others play, when and how to let another team member take over, and how to compensate for any shortcomings. By building the understanding of where each person fits in, the team can quickly direct its energy to the task rather than into working out how to get on with each other.

  • Organisations, their managers, trainers and consultants who want to get the most out of their people. The awareness created by the individual and team profiles provides a base on which performance focused organisations can build their own team architecture and ongoing maintenance and continuous improvement activities – critical components in establishing and sustaining a team based management system.
Levels of Application

Beyond the initial strengthening of self awareness and effectiveness, the Team Roles concepts and range of reports can be used to build performance through:

  • Building interpersonal trust and understanding
  • Assembling and developing high performance teams
  • Identifying best team membership combinations
  • Recruiting within and into the organisation
  • Induction into the team and/or organisation
  • Individual Performance Coaching/Mentoring
  • Improving Leadership Development
  • Assigning work within the organisation
  • Determining the Team Roles profiles of particular jobs
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Career Planning
Building on a Belbin Base

One of the challenges of any ongoing development strategy is to maintain a consistent approach. Leadership Solutions has developed a practical and robust development strategy that builds on the Belbin Team Roles model and provides an ongoing consistent approach. In short, it has a three tier structure:

  • Level one - Behaviour Awareness: Involves assembling individual and team profiles to build awareness of talent contributions and team balance
    Level two – Team Architecture: Addresses the other components required to  build the framework that supports team performance
    Level three – Belbin Toolbox:  Addresses the need to both maintain and continue growing the team capability – an operational approach to assist the manager who often comes at performance improvement with a single issue focus. Here the Belbin Toolbox draws on the Team Roles model to provide development actions that are linked and consistent in what they advocate.

Put it all together and you are ‘building on a Belbin base’ – an approach underpinned by the expert research that shapes the Team Roles model. And one that has an easy to learn common language - providing the means to talk about behaviour and performance in a non-judgemental way – keys to high performance. To learn more about this model visit our Applications Page.

The Belbin Advantage
  • Behavioural not Psychometric:
    Whereas psychometric tests are concerned with measuring psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits, Belbin takes a different approach. We are not looking at people’s personality but the type of work to which people are most suited, based on their actual behaviour: what others in the team see and experience.

  • When deciding which approach might be the best for your needs, an important question to ask might be whether the outcome of a psychometric test has a great deal of bearing on the individual’s performance in the workplace? Does it matter that a member of staff can be labelled an extrovert, or is it more useful to see how that staff member contributes in a particular work situation?
    At Belbin, we feel that the latter is more useful and thousands of organisations worldwide agree. Of course personality is a factor, but it is only one of many that influence an individual’s behaviour.  Personality is unlikely to change, whereas we can adapt our behaviour depending on what is required of us in a given situation or role. So to get individuals and teams working more effectively, we need to focus on the point where changes can be made: our behaviour.

  • Common Team Language:
    The language of Team Roles has been used for years by international organisations in many countries, by lecturers teaching management and by teams in small companies or departments who are about to start working together. In fact millions of people have taken this language on board in the work environment.

    Why? By providing a common, non-threatening and meaningful team language, Belbin enables individuals and teams to communicate and work together with greater understanding. This language can be used to bring a new team together or make an existing team more motivated and effective. Crucially Team Roles provide common terms of reference to all members of the team, allowing them to openly discuss their strengths and weaknesses without conflict.

  • Use of Observer Assessments: As mentioned above, Team Roles focus on behaviours. If our interest were confined to personality, it could be argued that no one else could know or understand you better than you know yourself. With behaviour however, it’s a different story. Whilst people might think they send out a certain message, other people might read actions and words very differently, and in that case, it’s important for the individual to know. For often what matters in the workplace is what managers, colleagues and subordinates think, since tasks are likely to be assigned on that basis.

    For a broader 360° view we turn to Observer assessments to accompany one’s Self Perception. They can indicate how others view the individual and modify the overall Team Role profile to give a more accurate picture of how they fit into the team and how they behave at work.


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