TEAM ROLES: BELBIN FRAMEWORK Over the last few years, work teams have become a common and increasing characteristic of organisational life. Organisational successes, gains in productivity, quality and profitability are all attributed to team working Your Project Will Be Available In Short Order! – check my reference http://www.bidvalley.net/about_me.php?user_id=100694 . There are a number of factors which contribute to the performance of teams; for instance, the organisational structure within which the team works, the type of task to be accomplished, resources available and the characteristic of the team and the team members.
The last, the characteristics of team members, is the subject of this note. Common wisdom dictates that if the best people are put together, a high performance team would inevitably result. Traditionally, the most skilled people, therefore, would be selected for the team. This approach is still prevalent in most organisations and there are many examples: a committee which comprises distribution experts; and urban redevelopment task force which comprises the best architects in the field.
In all these cases, people are chosen for their membership of teams because of the job and task skills they possess; in other words, because of the functional role they perform. It has been found, however, that such an approach does not guarantee success. While it may be necessary that a team should comprise people who have relevant knowledge in the task area, it has been discovered that factors other than technical ability were more important in determining the success of a team. Dr.
Meredith Belbin, an UK based scholar in the field of management, applied the notion of behavioural roles to teams and identified nine sets of `team roles’. His concept of team roles was based on a study of successful and unsuccessful teams competing in business games. During a period of over nine years, a team of researchers based at Henley Management College, U. K. studied the behaviour of managers from all over the world, while they engaged in a complex management exercise. Their different core personality traits, intellectual styles and behaviours were assessed during the exercise.
In their observations, Belbin and his associates found that while carrying out team activities, managers tend to prefer particular behaviours. For instance, some were naturally imaginative – `good ideas’ people. Some were good at checking details to make sure that every thing has been covered. Yet some others made sure that decisions are implemented and the task carried thorough to completion. It was also observed that individuals displaying these roles exhibited similar behaviour patterns over time. In other words, they `stick’ to their roles.
These different clusters of behaviours were identified and then given names. For example, the `ideas person’ was given the name ‘plant’, the one who controls and organises the activities of his team – `co-ordinator’, the one who tries to ensure that tasks are carried through to completion – ‘Implementer’ and so on. Belbin’s research yielded nine team roles. A team role may be defined as the way we behave, contribute and interrelate when working in any team. It refers to `work preferences’ i. e. , the different ways that individuals approach tasks of the team.
In the management games and in the subsequent research conducted in the field over the past twenty years, it has been found that certain combinations of behavioural roles lead to more effective teams. For instance, a highly successful team can be built around the co-ordinator, plant and monitor evaluator. Even though these team roles are not associated with particular job and task skills, they are considered crucial to task and goal achievement in that their presence or absence is said to influence significantly the work and achievements of teams.
Before moving to team role descriptions, one should keep in mind the underlying premises of Belbin’s team role theory: 1. People working in teams tend to adopt particular roles. 2. They tend to prefer these roles and stick with them. 3. And certain combinations lead to more effective teams. Team Roles: Descriptions It should be noted here that the descriptions are presented here in their `pure forms’, representing the extreme form of each role. In reality, such forms are unlikely to occur to that extent, but classifying them in this way help in understanding the central behavioural features characteristic of ach role. It should also be noted that each ideal role includes a number of weaknesses associated with the role. These are acceptable in a team setting and can be described as the payments that are made for the strengths inherent in the particular role. It may be counter-productive to work on these weaknesses, as in many cases they are closely intertwined with strengths. It is better to deal with weaknesses by delegating certain responsibilities or roles to others or, in some cases, recruiting a new team member to fill the void. Nine Team Roles identified in Belbin’s Research Action-oriented Roles |People-oriented Roles |Cerebral Roles | |Shaper |Co-ordinator |Plant | |Implementer |Team Worker |Monitor Evaluator | |Completer |Resource Investigator |Specialist | Team Role: Descriptions Belbin Team Role Type |Contributions |Allowable Weaknesses | |Plant (PL) |Creative, Imaginative Unorthodox. Solves |Too pre-occupied to communicate | | |difficult problems. |effectively. | |Co-ordinator (CO) |Mature, Confident, a good chairperson. |Can be often seen as manipulative. Off | | |Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, |loads personal work. | |delegates well. | | |Monitor Evaluator (ME) |Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all |Lacks drive and ability to inspire others. | | |options. Judges accurately. | | |Implementer (IMP) |Disciplined, reliable, conservative and |Somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to | | |efficient. Turns an idea into practical |new possibilities. | | |actions. | |Completer (CF) |Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. |Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to | | |Searches out errors and omissions. Delivers|delegate. | | |on time. | | |Resource Investigator (RI) |Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. |Over optimistic. Loses interest once | | |Explores opportunities. Develops contacts. |initial enthusiasm has passed. |Shaper (SH) |Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. |Prone to provocation, offends people’s | | |The drive and courage to overcome |feelings. | | |obstacles. | | |Team Worker (TW) |Co-operative, mild, perceptive and |Indecisive in crunch situation. | | |diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts | | | |friction. | |Specialist (SP) |Single minded, self-starting, dedicated. |Contributes on a narrow front. Dwells on | | |Provides knowledge and skills in rate |technicalities. | | |supply. | | Building an Effective Team – Some Guidelines Dr. Meredith Belbin’s research shows that technical/functional resources and skills within the team are employed to best advantage only when there is a right balance of team roles.
The notion of balance suggests that the presence of all nine roles would make a perfect team. However, it is highly unlikely that a team of workable size will have all the roles and hence it has been suggested that there are some roles that are probably essential for the success of a team. Co-ordinatorImplementer(s) PlantTeam Worker(s) Monitor EvaluatorResource Investigator(s) Completer(s) Specialist Ideal Team Composition Those in the smaller box are almost certainly vital to real effectiveness of the team. The role of the co-ordinator is more satisfactory and supportive to the effective functioning of the team.
In leadership positions co-ordinator ensures the focus on people and their needs and tries to create conditions, which allows him to work with people rather than over them. The creativity of the Plant may also be critical to success. Belbin found that when ‘Planted’ in an ordinary team (hence the name Plant), he could transform the team from a state of mediocrity to one of high achievement. There is a widespread conviction in the management literature that most teams have a need for the Plant. They are, however in short supply and that may partly explain why many organizational teams are no more than average performers.
The role of the Monitor Evaluator is central to some of the key purposes of the team, which include processing complex information, sifting ideas for flaws and relevance to the key purpose and selecting the optimum solution. The presence of a Monitor Evaluator having critical analysis capabilities ensures that high quality decisions emerge. Those roles in the larger box may be described as important contributing elements to the effectiveness of the team. For example, teams need a disciplined approach to task performance and meeting targets. The completer and the implementer are the key exponents of these roles.
Similarly, the chances of a congenial working environment and relatively harmonious relationships are higher in the presence of a Team Worker. Belbin has also noted that certain roles are more vital at certain stages of the activities of the team than others. For example, when a team is going through the process of setting project direction or establishing needs a co-ordinator or shaper is essential. When they reach the stage of actual planning, however, a Monitor Evaluator is invaluable. The particular roles that may be essential at different stages of the task include: Different Stages of the task |Roles essential | |Direction and needs |Co-ordinator, Shaper | |Ideas |Plant, Resource Investigator | |Contracts |Resource Investigator, Team Worker | |Organization |Implementer, Co-ordinator | |Follow through |Completer, Implementer |
Implications for Managers a) Those in a position to select the members of teams have to take their (members’) ability to contribute to the workings of the team into consideration just as much as their specialist technical skills. People with creative talents need to be sought out and their special skills need to be supported and used. They can contribute enormously to team success. b) Putting together people who are all of one type, whether in terms of technical skills or role denomination can be problematic. In considering team membership, there needs to be heterogeneity, where skills and abilities are complementary rather than duplicated. ) It has also been observed that a balanced team is more likely to be successful because it has the presence of key roles. A good Co-ordinator, a Plant, a Monitor Evaluator can provide the nucleus of a high performing team. These roles, therefore, are central. Very often, if a few influential team members provide these roles, the team may be successful despite the role gaps and inadequacies amongst the other team members. Individuals should also be encouraged to develop potential strengths of their preferred roles in support of the team.