Why Belbin Over Other Approaches

An increasingly large number of organizations of all sizes are using testing (aptitude and suitability testing) to help make decisions about individuals within their organizations. The benefits of introducing testing into the workplace (whether in the context of recruitment, or for the purposes of ongoing personal and team development) include:

  • Providing an external, objective view of an individual, which is not biased by the perspective of an individual (such as a line manager) or by the organizational culture.
  • Helping individuals to learn about themselves by presenting them in a new light. The provision of tailored information allows individuals to manage their career progress and set targets based on their performance.
  • Analyzing fit between individuals and jobs, so that appropriate skills and training needs can be identified.
  • Building teams of individuals who work harmoniously and productively together.

Which type of test is best for your organization?

You need to decide exactly what you, or your organization, hope to gain from profiling individuals or a team. What information or advice do you wish to obtain that will help you with the organization’s recruitment or personal development project? How will line managers, HR, trainers, or consultants be using the information provided, and to what end?

Many psychometric or personality tests provide results that focus on an individual’s score for a series of personality traits. Bear in mind that while information regarding personality traits may be edifying for the individual concerned, it is not necessarily the most useful form of feedback for the organization. Instead, it may be more advantageous to retrieve practical advice which is grounded in 360-degree peer reviews and which is orientated towards a work setting.

What is a Psychometric Test?

There are many tests that focus on an individual’s personality. Aspects such as extroversion/introversion, and thinking/feeling are measured and are considered relatively fixed. They are based on an individual’s answers to a range of questions. There is no 360-degree view, so one could say that the outcome is only as good as an individual’s self-knowledge.
The question to ask is 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 labeled an extrovert, or is it more useful to see how that staff member contributes to a particular work situation?
At Belbin, we feel that the latter is more useful and thousands of organizations worldwide agree. Of course, personality is a factor, but it is only one of many that influence an individual’s behavior.

What’s a Behavioral Test?

A behavioral test investigates propensities towards certain kinds of behavior and styles of interaction with others, rather than measuring personality traits. Behavior is regarded as more changeable than personality since we can adapt our behavior depending on what is required of us in a given situation or role.
Behavior is also observable. This means that it affects, and is affected by, those around us. This makes the process of understanding and adapting our actions a democratic one: while we wouldn’t ask others to tell us about our personalities, we often remark on one another’s behavior.
Finally, behavioral tests can provide constructive feedback which directly informs the way an individual behaves in the workplace. Personality is unlikely to change, so to dust off the cobwebs and get individuals and teams working more effectively, we need to focus on the point where changes can be made: our behavior.

Belbin Team Roles – Behavioral or Personality testing?

Belbin is concerned with behavior: what others in your team see and experience. While this may be influenced by your personality, this is not the only factor.

In a nutshell, during the 1970s, Dr. Meredith Belbin and his research team at Henley Management College set about observing teams. As the research progressed, it was research revealed that the difference between success and failure for a team was not dependent on factors such as intellect, but more on behavior.
The research team began to identify separate clusters of behavior, each of which formed distinct team contributions or “Team Roles.” A Team Role came to be defined as a “tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate…way.”

It was found that different individuals displayed different Team Roles to varying degrees. Moreover, the behavior assumed might not correspond with what others observe. Whereas many psychometric tests rely on self-reporting, the Belbin assessment uses 360° feedback to give you an accurate idea of how you fit in your team.


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Lindsay Lalla

Lindsay Lalla is the VP of Marketing and Client Support for Belbin North America. Most recently, she has been spearheading the introduction of the Belbin Team Role methodology into North America. Lindsay is a skilled facilitator, and also runs the Belbin Accreditation classes where she certifies others in the Belbin method.
Lindsay’s formal education is in instruction and performance. Combined with her 17 years of adult education experience, she brings a depth of understanding in how to deliver the highly experiential workshops that are a hallmark of the Belbin North America approach to education and organizational development.

Patrick Ballin

Patrick offers more than 25 years of experience with some of the most successful businesses in Europe as a consultant, change manager and executive coach.

He has helped many well-known organisations to get their ideas and projects off the ground by working with business leaders and their teams to optimise interaction, strategy and execution.
Patrick was Global Head of Supply Chain and Logistics Development for The Body Shop, an international retailer of ethical health and beauty products, and managed its change programme across 52 countries. In 2009, he set up the national redundancy coaching service, Rework, for the UK industry charity, Retail Trust. Patrick spent his earlier career with ACWL Group, one of the pioneering UK Apple Centres, where he was a divisional Director.
He holds an MA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, is a Visiting Lecturer for Brighton Business School, a Fellow of the RSA and coach for social enterprise incubator On Purpose.

Max Isaac

Max is the CEO of 3Circle Partners. He brings a depth of knowledge and experience from his career in general management and consulting in North America, England, Europe and Asia.
Max has assisted CEOs and senior leaders within client organizations with the design and implementation of Interaction Planning processes, team based organizational development programs and Lean Six Sigma initiatives.
Prior to moving into the field of organizational development, Max was the CFO for the Retail Division within The Molson’s Organization, where he took a lead role in growing the business to over $1 billion in revenues, doubling its size in four years through acquisitions and internal growth.
Max is co-author of Close The Interaction Gap, The Third Circle – Interactions That Drive Results, Setting Teams Up for Success and A Guide to Team Roles. He is also the contributing author of the Organizational Change sections of Mike George’s books Lean Six Sigma published in May 2002 and Lean Six Sigma for Service published in June 2003. Max is a registered CPA, CA in Canada. His undergraduate degree was earned at Witwatersrand University, South Africa.