The Nine Belbin Team Roles

What is a Team Role?

Dr. Meredith Belbin defines a ‘Team Role’ as one of nine clusters of behavioral attributes identified by his research at Henley as being effective in order to facilitate team progress.

Meredith Belbin’s research showed that the most successful teams were made up of a diverse mix of behaviors. To build high-performing teams, we need to represent each of the nine Belbin Team Role behaviors at the appropriate times.

What are the nine Belbin Team Roles?

The nine Belbin Team Roles are: Resource Investigator, Teamwork and Co-ordinator (the Social roles); Plant, Monitor Evaluator and Specialist (the Thinking roles) and Shaper, Implementer and Completer Finisher (the Action of Task roles). 

Resource Investigator

Uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team.
Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.
Allowable weaknesses: Might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.

Teamworker

Helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.
Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be indecisive in crunch situations and tends to avoid confrontation.

Co-ordinator

Needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.
Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work.

Plant

Tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.
Strengths: Creative, imaginative, free-thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems.
Allowable weaknesses: Might ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.

Monitor Evaluator

Provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.
Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately.
Allowable weaknesses: Sometimes lacks the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical.

Specialist

Brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team.
Strengths: Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills.
Allowable weaknesses: Tends to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities.

Shaper

Provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.
Strengths: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings.

Implementer

Needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.
Strengths: Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities.

Completer Finisher

Most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.
Strengths: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects.
Allowable weaknesses: Can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate.
How do I find out my Belbin Team Roles?

The only sanctioned way of finding out your Belbin® Team Role strengths and weaknesses is by completing a Belbin® Individual report. We then recommend that you ask for feedback from people you work with, using the Observer Assessment. This gives you an updated Belbin Individual report which gives you an insight in to which Team Role behaviors others see and value. Individual reports can also be compiled into a Team Report, which assesses how a team will work together and where improvements can be made.

 What does a Belbin Report show me?

A Belbin Report will help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses in relation to the nine “Team Roles” – clusters of behavior that have a positive impact on team performance. In order for a team to be successful, the right Team Role contributions need to be brought in at the right time. In a Belbin report, you’ll learn:

  • Which Team Roles you have a preference for and which ones you may be weaker in
  • How your team or observers see your strengths and weaknesses for each role
  • Team Role feedback to help you play to your strengths
  • Suggested working styles and placements base on your Team Roles

Compiling a team’s Belbin reports into a Team Report can provide additional insights to better understand and improve team dynamics and effectiveness.

Are all Team Roles needed at all times?

t’s not always necessary to have all Team Roles working simultaneously. It’s important to consider the team objectives, and then work out which tasks need to be undertaken. Once this has been done, discussions can take place regarding how and when each Belbin Team Role behaviour should be utilized.

Using the Belbin Reports can give people a greater understanding of their strengths, which leads to more effective communication in the team. Managers can put together great teams, enhance the performance of existing ones, and ensure that everyone feels that they are making a difference in the workplace. 

Do you need nine people in a team, each with a strength in each Belbin Team Role? 

Although there are nine Belbin Team Roles, this doesn’t mean that every team requires nine people. Most people will have two or three Belbin Team Roles that they are most comfortable with, and this can change over time. Each Belbin Team Role has strengths and weaknesses, and each role is equally important to the team’s success. To find out the Belbin Team Role strengths of individuals and teams, you need to use the Belbin reports.

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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.