What is your role?

28 October 2014

Family Wise Limited is all about working as a team. We have dozens of cases, contracts and projects on the go at any one time and, in order to ensure that we consistently produce outstanding research and provide excellent customer service, everyone has to be play their part. That doesn’t mean that the company is full of clones! We are all individuals here and have our own unique strengths that we bring to the team.

Top-performing teams are built on a balance of roles, with each team member performing a role (or roles) that reflect their abilities. Some people are more outward-looking, firmly focused on contacts and opportunities, while others are real ‘doers’ in the team, self-disciplined and reliable, taking team ‘to do’ lists and turning them into positive action.

When a team is performing at its best, you will usually find that each team member has clear responsibilities. Just as importantly, you will see that every role needed to achieve the team’s goal is being performed fully and well.

Dr Meredith Belbin studied team-work for many years and he famously observed that people in teams tend to assume different ‘team roles’. He defined a team role as ‘a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way’ and named nine team roles that underlie team success.

He characterised those roles into three groups: Action Oriented (Shaper, Implenter and Completer-Finisher), People Oriented (Coordinator, Team Worker and Resource Investigator), and Thought Oriented (Plant, Monitor-Evaluator and Specialist). Each team role is associated with typical behavioral and interpersonal strengths and there are several sites which detail the strengths of each characteristic and also the weaknesses.

The Belbin Team Roles Model can be used in several ways: you can use it to think about team balance before a project starts, you can use it to highlight and so manage interpersonal differences within an existing team and you can use it to develop yourself.

What do you think? How does your team stack up? Belbin maintains that there is no such thing as the ‘ideal’ team, just that some people are more suited to some tasks than others. When thinking about your team (and no doubt some names sprang to mind while you were reading those descriptions on the link provided above!), consider how wide a coverage of those roles you have achieved and whether the balance you have struck is right for the task at hand.

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