Prepared by: Majed Abdeen
In all organisations, employees play specific roles within teams, however rigidly defined roles prevent individuals excelling. Belbin defined characteristics for team roles, based on personalities and behaviour, allowing harnessing of individuals' strengths and weaknesses during project delivery (Lester, 2017, p.373) though having each type in a team does not guarantee success (Dawson, 2015, p.184). At different project stages, different roles are required (Belbin, 2010, p.106). These roles have been categorised as below (Dawson, 2015, pp.183,184; Jungnickel & Mustafa, 2012):
Shaper: The source of original ideas and proposals. Looking for different approaches. Concerned with major issues. Independent outlook.
Implementer: Translates ideas into concrete tasks and implements them. Clarifies objectives, defines tasks and roles.
Completer-Finisher: Relentlessly makes the team achieve on time. Raises standards, injects urgency. Compulsive about deadlines.
Coordinator: Detached, observes team processes. Absorbs all alternatives and takes the team's decisions. Encourages, soothes conflict.
Resource investigator: Communicates to and from outside world. Sells ideas to others. Knows lots of people.
Team worker: Promotes group harmony. Dampens arguments. Knows others' problems. Counterbalance to friction between Shapers and Plants.
Plant: The source of original ideas and proposals. Looking for different approaches. Concerned with major issues. Independent outlook.
Monitor evaluator: Dispassionate analyst. Reaches logical conclusions by analysis. Checks feasibility and practicality.
Specialist: Provision of rare skills. Can be called upon to make decisions based on in-depth experience. Advances their own subject.
Team roles are best suited to manage or make decisions regarding project execution issues
Certain roles are predisposed to managing or decision-making. I would argue the Plant, Specialist, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Completer-Finisher, and Coordinator roles possess attributes beneficial for these tasks. Plants are creative, innovative, and are good problem-solvers who use fresh approaches (Lester, 2017, p.373), skills needed in managing and decision-making. Specialists are good decision-makers, doing so based on their experience, while Shapers possess drive, courage, and work well under pressure, again critical for managing and decision-making (Belbin, 2010, pp.26,75).
Monitor Evaluators are strategic thinkers and judge accurately while Completer-Finishers deliver on time, deal with errors, and conscientious, and Coordinators are good chair-people, being mature and confident and promoting decision-making (Isaac & Carson, 2012, p.11), skills needed for managing and decision-making effectively.
My attributes fall strongly into the Completer-Finisher, Specialist, and Plant roles; career-wise I prefer leadership and management roles. Completer-Finishers tend to clash with Resource Investigators, who they perceive as careless and erratic, and are perceived as restrictive and fussy (Belbin, 2010, p.67). I perceive myself as highly-organised and dislike working with disorganised individuals; a colleague possessed Resource Investigator attributes, and consequently the atmosphere between us was strained.
Addressing changes in resource productivity and availability
Coordinators, Resource Investigators, Implementers, and Completer-Finishers all possess attributes beneficial for dealing with resource issues. Coordinators are good at locating and using needed talent (Belbin, 2010, p.23), while Resource Investigators are enthusiastic, good at developing contacts and exploring opportunities (Isaac & Carson, 2012, p.11). Implementers get things done; they take action and are hard workers, unfazed by difficulties, while Completer-Finishers are perfectionists, and unhesitating when dealing with problems (Belbin, 2010, pp.89,90). These are all qualities required to deal with changes in resources.
In terms of dealing with resource productivity and availability, as a Completer-Finisher, my ability to drive and inspire the team as well as my creativity have helped me in the past when dealing with a highly short-staffed team when faced with a significant amount of work to be completed in a very short timescale. I was able to persuade the team that was available to work together to deal with the problem successfully and within the time-scale; although initially it seemed unsolvable with the manpower we had available.
Address unanticipated risks
Belkin personality types who have attributes beneficial for addressing unanticipated risks include Implementers, Completer-Finisher, Monitor Evaluator, and Shaper. Implementers take action, are unafraid of hard work, and unfazed by impossibilities, while Completer-Finishers focus on perfection, attention to detail and expect things to go wrong (Belbin, 2010, pp.89,90), providing both with the attributes needed to successfully deal with unforeseen risks. Monitor and Evaluators are able to judge well and appraise accurately (Lester, 2017, p.373), vital in dealing with risk, while Shapers thrive under pressure and can overcome obstacles (Isaac & Carson, 2012, p.11), vital when unanticipated risks arise.
Having worked with staff who were likely Shapers, I found they were important team-members, encouraging us to circumvent obstacles; however, they can also be challenging to work with, especially when the work did not progress as they expected or when they felt team members were not serious about the work. Belbin notes that Shapers can become aggressive and bad-humoured when trying to complete work, which fits with my experience.
Belbin, R. M., 2010. Team Roles at Work. 2nd ed. Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK: Elsevier Ltd.
Dawson, C. W., 2015. Projects in computing and information systems: a student’s guide. 3rd ed. United Kingdom, Edinburgh: Pearson Education Limited.
Isaac, M. & Carson, K., 2012. A Guide to Belbin Team Roles: How to increase personal and team effectiveness. s.l.:Bridge Publishing.
Jungnickel, D. & Mustafa, A., 2012. Belbin and Successful Project Teams. [Online]
Available at: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/belbin-and-successful-project-teams.php
Lester, A., 2017. Project Management, Planning and Control: Managing Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing Projects to PMI, APM and BSI Standards. 7th ed. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd.