Belbin’s team roles: know yours and value others
Posted November 20, 2009on:
Too much energy for one person
I’m an energetic person with an eye for opportunity and slightly neurotic streak. It’s is not surprising that my main roles come out at
- Shaper – is what being done important and is what important being done!
- Completer/Finisher – have all the important details been attended to and will we finish on time?
- Resource/Investigator -who should we and could we know and what can we do that we couldn’t do yesterday?
Exuberant, enthusiast, loyal and kind – that’s how people describe me.
Everything has a flip side
But not necessarily tactful. Unlike Britons described by BBC yesterday, I can’t lie ‘for toffee’. I’m also the type that departs the beaten track and climbs over a challenging course just for the hell of it.
When I was younger, I knew that I wasn’t a ‘hale fellow, well met” sort of person. Everyone who had taken a short cut or conned anyone or been faintly dull felt ‘criticized’ by my preferences. I knew that I didn’t have a sharp grasp of fashion but I thought I wasn’t a ‘people’ person.
We surround ourselves with opposites to balance our preferences
By the time, I was an active student leader at University, I was wise enough to include a gregarious, easy-going person on every one of my teams. I would think up the ideas and run them past my ‘people’ person to make sure they would be well received.
The names of roles and their pros and cons are formalized in the ‘Belbin’
It was only much later, as I encountered the Belbin (and taught the Belbin) that I realized my instincts were spot on. I had brought in ‘team players’ to balance me.
And it was only then that I understood that all team players show characteristic weaknesses. I had observed that but I didn’t know it was predictable.
Teamplayers don’t get down to work very easily. They might not even do their share of work. And they are dreadful negotiators. They think they are wonderful but they tend to give everything away. For the life of them, they cannot hold the line. To say ‘no’ might make them unpopular and they can’t stand that.
Disadvantages or not – I want opposites on my team
But I still want a team player on my team. They keep the peace. They don’t complain. They are careful with other people’s feelings.
Team players are essential in every office
In one place that I worked, we had a long corridor and my office was about one-third of the way down from reception. When our receptionist went away, I would hear the noise gradually increase. Once I even slammed my own filing cabinet drawer shut, thinking as I did just how unpleasantly noisy our office was! Then I caught myself. Pleasantness and unpleasantness is contagious. Without our team player, tempers were rising and little incidents of bad temper were being sparked like bush fires after a long drought. Amazingly, in a team, who should know better, people were often unkind to our team player and complained she wasted time chatting. No, she didn’t. She was the lubricant that kept the office turning.
I want a team player and I don’t even mind if they do less work than everyone else. I can do thinking – I will anyway. I can double check their work – I will anyway! I can do the unpleasant chores. It doesn’t bother me. I’ll even be firm with them and tell them I will do the negotiating because they are no darn good at it!
But I want them there. They keep us sane.
Do you know the team roles you prefer playing and will always choose when you can?
The Belbin test can be googled but it is heavily copyrighted. You aren’t likely to find a full copy on the web. I think I will put up some old lecture notes on Slideshare for you and I’ll use the occasion to check out Prezi. So book mark this post and come back in a few days to see if it is done.
I strongly recommend you ‘name’ your preferred roles and explore the upsides and downsides of our own style. Moreover, check out the roles played by people who annoy you. You will see why you need them so badly!