Belbin team roles: how to create strong teams

by Danique Geskus | Mar 29, 2024

Forming a successful team is essential to achieving stated goals and fostering growth. But what really makes a team effective? The answer may lie in understanding individual strengths and how they complement each other within the team. This is where Belbin’s Team Roles come in, a concept that has been used for decades to understand, analyze and improve teams. Let’s dive into the world of Belbin Team Roles and discover why it has become the foundation of effective team building.


The origins of the Belbin team roles

The Belbin team roles were developed by Dr. Meredith Belbin, a British researcher and management psychologist, in the 1970s. Belbin and his team conducted extensive research on team composition. In doing so, they discovered that it is not only about the individual capabilities of team members, but also about how these capabilities work together.


The 9 Belbin team roles

Belbin identified nine different team roles that he divided into three categories: action-oriented, people-oriented and thinking-oriented. Each of these roles represents a set of behaviors, skills and traits that a person on a team can exhibit. Here are the nine Belbin Team Roles:

  1. Shaper: A dynamic and assertive personality who takes charge and gives the group direction and purpose.
  2. Company man: A hands-on organizer who maintains the structure of the team and ensures that tasks are completed.
  3. Resource Investigator: A curious and enthusiastic person who explores and introduces ideas and opportunities outside the team.
  4. Plant: A creative and unconventional thinker who provides innovative solutions and proposes new approaches to problems.
  5. Monitor: An analytical and objective observer who monitors the strategic aspects of teamwork and points out potential risks and opportunities.
  6. Shaper: A diplomatic and connecting personality who resolves conflicts, builds consensus and maintains harmony within the team.
  7. Specialist: An expert in a particular field who provides unique knowledge and skills essential to the success of the team.
  8. Executive: A goal-oriented and reliable team player responsible for implementing plans and achieving results.
  9. Accomplisher: A meticulous and perfectionist who ensures the completion of tasks and adherence to deadlines.


Take the test and find out which team role suits you! Take the test here.


The importance of Team Roles

Understanding Belbin Team Roles is crucial to building effective teams for several reasons:

  1. Complementary skills: By recognizing which team roles are present within a team, members can maximize their individual strengths and complement each other where their skills fall short.
  2. Efficient task allocation: Identifying the right team roles helps to effectively distribute tasks and responsibilities, allowing the team to work more efficiently.
  3. Effective communication: By being aware of each other’s team roles, team members can communicate more effectively, reduce conflict and promote cooperation.
  4. Improved decision-making: Different perspectives within the team can lead to better decision-making, as each team member offers unique insights and expertise.


Applying the Belbin team roles

The Belbin team roles can be applied to various aspects of team development, including:

  1. Team Building: When building a team, it is important to have a mix of different Belbin team roles that complement each other.
  2. Team development: Regular evaluations of team roles can help the team understand their strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to work on improving collaboration and performance.
  3. Leadership Development: Leaders can use the Belbin team roles to understand their own strengths and weaknesses. This allows them to match their leadership style to the needs of the team.
  4. Project management: Project managers can use the Belbin team roles to effectively lead teams, assign tasks and ensure that each team member contributes optimally to the success of the project.


Success Stories

Countless organizations around the world have experienced success by applying the Belbin team roles. From small startups to large multinationals, understanding team roles has led to improved performance, better collaboration and higher satisfaction among team members.

One example is a marketing agency that struggled to assemble effective teams for creative campaigns. By using the Belbin team roles, they managed to create a balanced mix of team roles, making them more innovative and achieving better results for their clients.

Another example is a technology company that was struggling to meet deadlines and complete projects on time. By applying the Belbin team roles, they were able to build teams with strong executive and completion roles, making them more efficient in their project management processes.

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