An effective team requires a variety of personality types that can assume different roles. Assigning team roles according to employees’ strengths and shortcomings is an effective way to build a team, as people fare better at tasks that draw on their strengths. The Belbin Team Inventory test can help you assign team roles by identifying each individual’s motivations and objectives. In this article, we provide an overview of the Belbin test and a definition of each of the Belbin team member roles so you can achieve efficient teamwork in your workplace.
What is the Belbin personality test?
Meredith Belbin devised the Belbin Team Inventory test through a study at Henley Management College to establish the ideal roles for individuals to assume within a team. To measure personality traits with the Belbin test, participants evaluate their own behaviors, receive feedback from observers and compare the two.
The results then show which of the nine roles for which your team members are best suited. However, people may exhibit traits that enable them to assume more than one role, which means that you can build a well-balanced team from any number of people, as long as you include all the roles.
The Belbin test differs from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. The latter is a psychometric test that reveals your personality type, whereas the Belbin test is a behavioral exam that establishes which traits you display of nine possible team roles. You can complete the Belbin test online for free.
How to use the Belbin model in the workplace
Belbin suggests that a team filled with members that have similar styles of behaviors or team roles can become unbalanced. For example, if team members have similar strengths they may compete for the projects, duties and responsibilities that complement their natural skill set. A team made up of members with similar weaknesses may exhibit that weakness as a whole.
You can apply the Belbin model to your team to help create a more balanced team and identify opportunities for growth based on the team role. When you understand your role within a team, you can improve your contributions by developing your strengths and managing your weaknesses.
What are the nine Belbin team roles?
The nine Belbin team roles are descriptions of job duties that fall into three broad categories: thought-oriented roles, action-oriented roles and people-oriented roles. Understanding each role a team member can play may help you to work more efficiently as a team:
- The Monitor Evaluator (thought-oriented)
- The Specialist (thought-oriented)
- The Plant (thought-oriented)
- The Shaper (action-oriented)
- The Implementer (action-oriented)
- The Completer/Finisher (action-oriented)
- The Coordinator (people-oriented)
- The Team Worker (people-oriented)
The Resource Investigator (people-oriented)
Thought-oriented team roles
Thought-oriented team members are critical thinkers. They may present new ideas or a new perspective, analyze ideas by weighing the pros and cons or have specialized knowledge or skills.
Thought-oriented roles include:
1. The Monitor Evaluator
Monitor Evaluators make decisions based on facts and rational thinking as opposed to emotions and instincts. They are normally serious individuals who excel at critical thinking and strategic planning. If there is a challenge in a project, Monitor Evaluators will carefully consider all angles and possibilities and then devise an insightful solution. These individuals tend to be loners who prefer not to get involved in the lives of coworkers, which contributes to their objectivity.
Monitor Evaluators work best when challenges arise that require advanced analytical ability and astute problem-solving. Because of their ability to consistently make effective decisions, these individuals often hold managerial positions.
2. The Specialist
The Specialist is a team member who is an expert in a specific field. Since they have in-depth knowledge in a narrow subject, they will usually only contribute when a task requires their area of expertise. Like Monitor Evaluators, Specialists tend to be loners, so being part of a team does not often come naturally to them.
Specialists are invaluable assets, as they provide expert technical knowledge that few else can. Often, senior management will create proposals and projects based on the knowledge of these Specialists. Although Specialists find the idea of being in a team challenging, they become very engaging and helpful when it comes to their field of expertise and will likely have no issue in sharing their knowledge with junior members who want to learn.
3. The Plant
Plants are free-thinkers and creative people who produce original ideas and suggest innovative new ways of doing things. As is the case with the other two thought-oriented roles, Plants prefer to work alone. However, most teams and companies accept this, as the Plant’s creative thinking typically leads to innovative solutions and groundbreaking concepts.
Although Plants may not fit into the traditional concept of how a team member should act, they are nevertheless invaluable to a team or organization. As the name suggests, Plants are the team members who bring about growth and progress.
Action-oriented team roles
Action-oriented team members strive to get things done. They can be counted on to complete a task, meet a deadline and see a challenge as an exciting opportunity.
Action-oriented roles include:
4. The Shaper
Shapers are extroverts who tend to push themselves and others to achieve results. They are dynamic and driven individuals who can motivate and inspire passion in team members. Despite any challenges that may come their way, Shapers remain positive and seem to thrive under pressure. They enjoy challenging norms to create unique goals and strategies. It is usually vital to have one Shaper to help the team progress in its mission.
Because Shapers are born leaders who tend to get results, they quickly move upward in organizations. They are ideal management material, as they act decisively in crises and drive progress.
5. The Implementer
Implementers are organizers who like to structure their environments and maintain order. Because they are practical people, implementers like to make concrete plans from abstract ideas. Implementers are highly disciplined and self-controlled individuals who can disregard their self-interest to focus on the needs of a team or an organization. Although Implementers normally prefer established ways of doing things, you can likely persuade them to change if you can prove that it would yield positive results.
Implementers are usually the backbones of organizations since they implement workable strategies to ensure the team completes tasks quickly and effectively. These practical and diligent team members are the ones who ensure that goals become tangible successes.
6. The Completer/Finisher
Completers, also called Finishers, are introverted individuals who perform quality assurance during key stages of a project. They are often perfectionists who can notice fine details, which enables them to scrutinize finished tasks or products for errors. Since these individuals strive for perfection, they tend to expect the same from those around them.
Organizations need these individuals to ensure that teams produce high-quality work. Completers are especially valuable in work environments where precision and adherence to deadlines are essential.
People-oriented team roles
People-oriented team members use networking and relationship-building skills to complete tasks. They may be excellent active listeners and provide support to other team members to build cohesion in the group.
People-oriented team roles include:
7. The Coordinator
Coordinators are mature individuals who have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They are normally in management positions, but their management styles are very different from those of Shapers. Where Shapers manage through directives, Coordinators prefer a more democratic approach that includes open communication.
Instead of focusing on the achievement of the organization’s goals, Coordinators tend to concentrate on helping team members accomplish their individual objectives. They are normally good at identifying talent in a team and utilizing it to achieve the group’s objectives. Coordinators are normally calm and trusting individuals who are adept at delegating work.
Coordinators are necessary to ensure that the team utilizes each member’s strengths appropriately. As they tend to have broad perspectives, Coordinators can direct teams with diverse personalities and skills.
Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles
8. The Team Worker
Team Workers are normally extroverts with mild and friendly dispositions. They tend to be good listeners and are adept at getting a team to function well together as a unit. If Team Workers notice that other team members are not coping with their workload, they are likely to step in and assist. These individuals are highly adaptable and versatile, which enables them to interact effectively with diverse people and cope with sudden changes.
Team Workers are indispensable team members as they establish harmony within a team. They are adept at solving interpersonal issues within a team and also support members who may feel neglected. Because of this, Team Workers tend to be popular with colleagues and often rise to senior positions.
9. The Resource Investigator
Resource Investigators are extroverts who have a talent for networking. They are positive and enthusiastic people who like to explore new opportunities and investigate new developments. Although they may not necessarily come up with new ideas themselves, they are skilled at picking up ideas from others.
Because of their outgoing personalities, Resource Investigators are good at making new business contacts and carrying out subsequent negotiations. They are also talented at finding new ideas and opportunities and bringing these back to the team.