8 Roles Within a Team
Following many years’ research on teams, Dr Meredith Belbin identified a set of eight roles, which, if all present in a team, give it the best chance of success. These roles are:
The Coordinator clarifies group objectives, sets the agenda, establishes priorities, selects problems, sums up and is decisive, but does not dominate discussions.
The Shaper gives shape to the team effort, looking for pattern in discussions and practical considerations regarding the feasibility of the project. Can steamroller the team, but gets results.
The Plant is the source of original ideas, suggestions and proposals that are usually original and radical.
The Monitor-Evaluator contributes a measured and dispassionate analysis and, through objectivity, stops
the team committing itself to a misguided task.
The Implementer turns decisions and strategies into defined and manageable tasks, sorting out objectives and pursuing them logically.
The Resource Investigator goes outside the team to bring in ideas, information and developments to it. They are the team’s salesperson, diplomat, liaison officer and explorer.
The Team Worker operates against division and disruption in the team, like cement, particularly in times of stress and pressure.
The Finisher maintains a permanent sense of urgency with relentless follow-through.
All of these roles have value and are missed when not in a team; there are no stars or extras. It is not essential that teams comprise eight people each fulfilling one of the roles above, but that people who are aware and capable of carrying out these roles should be present. In small teams, people can, and do, assume more than one role. In addition, analyzing existing teams and their performance or behaviour, using these team role concepts, can lead to improvements, e.g:
Underachievement demands a good coordinator or finisher
Conflict requires a team worker or strong coordinator
Mediocre performance needs a resource investigator, innovator or shaper
Error prone teams need an evaluator
Different roles are important in different circumstances, e.g. new teams need a strong shaper to get started, competitive situations demand an innovator with good ideas, and in areas of high risk, a good evaluator may be needed. Teams should, therefore, be analyzed both in terms of what team roles members can play, and also in relation to what team skills are most needed!