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Belbin Team Roles Questionnaire - How to Build a Winning Team

Updated on December 1, 2013
Rik Ravado profile image

Rik is an engineer who has held a range of marketing, technical support, and management roles. He is also a qualified teacher.

A Winning Team
A Winning Team

Team Building for Success

In today’s fast-paced, competitive world, choosing the right mix of people to make up a team is of vital importance. This holds true for anything from committees, boards or business projects.

With the whole fabric of society subject to revolutionary change, corporate team building events are a key feature in coping with the ever changing social and commercial landscape.

Traditionally Human Resources departments and employment agencies have used personality profiles to categorise potential employees. A type of personality profile, particularly useful as a management tool in the work-place, is Belbin's Team Roles and the Belbin Team Roles Questionnaire.

Belbin team roles analysis gives an indication of how the individual may perform in a group and helps put together a winning team.

The person being tested completes a simple questionnaire where they allocate points out of 10 to groups of statements. Like all personality profiles this can be a little subjective. The end result is a series of scores against 9 personality types that relate to team working.

If an organisation needs to put a team together to work on a project or solve a problem then the 'Belbin' management tool helps them select individuals with a good mix of skills in order to create an effective and successful team.

A Team Building Tale

The following story helps to illustrate how Belbin Team Roles can be applied when selecting a team to carry out a new task or project:

I came across this Belbin Team Roles stuff while working for 'Games-Like-Us' in Milton Keynes (A modern town in the UK).

Roger Picney-Smith, my Project Manager, believed that designing and coding state-of-the-art networked games wasn't clever enough. I bet you've met Roger, or someone just like him, with the latest Blackberry, a slick suit and a smarmy smile.

Roger had just returned from a Business Change Workshop and a Corporate Team Building Event. He now constantly trotted out phrases like 're-engineer our processes' and ‘workplace transformation'.

Today he was selecting a team to work on a new project for Nintendo. He surprised us by handing out these personal profile forms and instructed us to fill them in. There followed about 20 minutes of silence broken only by the scrapping of pencils and the occasional snigger.

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The Software Department Deploys Belbin Team Roles
The Software Department Deploys Belbin Team Roles

Please Can I Go to the Toilet?

It was only when Allison put up her hand and asked,"Please Sir, can I go to the toilet?" that I realised that it reminded me of a school exam. Whilst Allison was gone, Roger collected our papers and disappeared into his office.

I got back to my workstation and was just making some real progress on fixing a tricky bug, when I became aware of Roger's shrill voice addressing the room.

"I have your profiles," he announced excitedly, "and from them I've put together a balanced team for the Starbreak project. This will be the prototype for our re-engineered processes. "

Roger liked to address the office as if he were the captain of a warship engaging the enemy in battle. It so happened that the module of the MBA course he was currently studying was presentation skills. Last week he gave an elaborate PowerPoint presentation just to tell us how we were doing.

As Tom said, at least he was better than his predecesor, an arch exponent of Mushroom Management who was thankfully sacked for incompetance. (He kept everyone in the dark and occasionally shovelled manure on them.)

Plants and Shapers?

A Shaper is Highly Strung, Outgoing and Dynamic with Loads of Nervous Energy
A Shaper is Highly Strung, Outgoing and Dynamic with Loads of Nervous Energy

The Plant

Belbin Team Roles Poll

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I was amazed to find that I had been selected for the team because, according to Roger, I was the only person in the office who scored highly as a 'Plant'. I was mystified. Roger explained that a Plant is someone who is individualistic, serious-minded and unorthodox.

Although I might be weak at communicating with others in a team I would be the source of fresh ideas and new proposals. Someone muttered that me being a plant might explain the green cord trousers and the unorthodox shirts.

When told she was also on the team, Allison leaped into the air shouting, "Way to go!" and then became quite emotional. Roger explained this was because Allison is a Shaper. Shapers are highly-strung, outgoing and dynamic. They have lots of nervous energy, like a challenge and can be headstrong and emotional.

Guy, who was also chosen, whispered to me that Allison is a lovely shape. Allison punched him in the ribs for being sexist and told him never to investigate anywhere near her. Roger told us Guy is a Resource Investigator.

Investigators are extroverts, enthusiastic, curious and communicative.They are invaluable at finding external resources such as human contacts or equipment and are good negotiators.

Roger, not surprisingly, scored highly as a Coordinator. They make good chair people and clarify goals.

Roger also scored nearly as high, he told us, as a Completer Finisher. Finishers are painstaking, orderly, conscientious and anxious. They are good at meeting deadlines, accurate and pay attention to detail. This description of Roger is spot on for a man who uses his electronic organiser for absolutely everything including planning a romantic liaison with his own wife.

Belbin Team Roles and Business links

For more information on Belbin Team Roles and team building management tools, check out the Belbin Website

For a guide to producing successful business presentations read: How to Deliver Effective, Successful Presentions

The First Team Meeting

Anyway, the following day we had our first team meeting. Roger, true to profile, chaired the meeting and was really anxious when Guy failed to turn up on time.

Guy had gone to see someone in another division about upgrading our hardware and then called in on Kathy, the canteen manager, to persuade her to provide a plate of Hobnobs to go with our coffee for the team meeting.

Allison was like a coiled spring. Through clenched teeth she muttered "For goodness sake let's get on with this bloody meeting!" Unexpectedly, Michelle, our 'Team Worker', turned on her angrily. "Just for once, why don't you shut that great fat gob of yours Allison? I'm fed up with your attitude and your big mouth!"

I should add that Team Workers are supposed to be cooperative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Roger had assured us that they promote team spirit, raise moral and help people to cooperate.

Anyway, at this point Mike, revealed as a Monitor Evaluator, who recently split with Michelle, shouted, "I'm fed up with your childishness and I'm fed up with this stupid company and all this pratting about. Why can't we just write software the way we used to?"

Office Meetings Can Get Emotional
Office Meetings Can Get Emotional

Epilogue

Mike stormed off to personnel and promptly resigned. In the corridor he met Guy with a plate of Hobnobs. Guy couldn't persuade him to come back, but he did negotiate a reunion with Michelle, who embraced Mike warmly and then resigned in sympathy.

Roger was off sick the next day and the only bright ideas I could come up with in my role as 'Plant' involved spending time with Allison.

I was too shy to share my feelings with her but luckily Allison is so dynamic and outgoing that she guessed how I felt and asked me to meet her in the pub after work.

Roger resigned the following week, quit his MBA course and became a recruitment consultant.

The team? Funnily enough, those of us who are left have found found Belbin Team Roles really helpful. The project team is thriving and Alison and I are now engaged.

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