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[Research team roles (SUBJECT OF PROJECT)]

A team is two or more people, working together towards a common goal. The goal can be the company’s goal here, for which the team is employed or brought together. Role defined by is a ‘proper or customary function. ’ Where the service of the function is absolute for a role. A ‘team role’ would be the term that describes the behaviour, that which fulfils the purpose, which a person serves in the team. Dr Belbin defines a team role as ‘a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.’ Each team role is unique and serves its own purpose within a team.

Belbin Team Roles are used to identify people's behaviour in terms of strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. This information can be used for the following:

Build productive and good working relationships

Select and form high-performing teams

Raise self-awareness and personal effectiveness in the members

Build mutual trust and understanding

Aid recruitment processes

Belbin Team Roles measure behaviour, not personality. The Team Roles that Belbin formed are today used widely in many organisations all over the world. By identifying our Team Roles as suggested, it is, we can  use our strengths to advantage and that we manage our weaknesses as much as possible. This means being aware of the disadvantages and then making an effort to avoid them.

The Team Role reports enable each team member to build mutual trust, understanding and productive working relationships. It also helps in making high performing teams, raising self-awareness and increasing personal effectiveness at work.

According to Dr Belbin successful teams should have the right mix of people, so that all the nine of Team Role behaviours are represented properly Though this does not mean that you have nine people in every team.  Many a times team members hasve two to three Team Roles that they like, and other roles that they can  take up if they have to, and the remaining that they do not want at all.

A Belbin Report made in the start, usually identifies which of the Team Role behaviours each member is suited for and prefers. There is no such thing as a good or bad Team Role. It’s important for each one to know their individual  role/Roles and also know the roles of the other members in the team.  A team and its members hit full potential only when they use all complementary and collective strengths. Nobody's perfect, but together a team can be.

In 1969, Dr Belbin made this business game a starting point for his study of team behaviour. He was a respected academic and industrialist, chairman and co-founder of The Industrial Training Research Unit (ITRU), founded by the Manpower Services Commission.He was interested in group and individual behaviour, but didn't know much about teams, he took help of three scholars: Bill Hartston, mathematician and international chess master; Jeanne Fisher, an anthropologist who studied Kenyan tribes; and Roger Mottram, a psychologist. They began this nine-year task, which was three business games a year and eight teams in each game, and then after observing, meeting, categorising and recording the different kinds team members, this theory came to be.

The BUSINESS simulation

The participants had to take psychometric tests and a test of high level reasoning ability called the Critical Thinking Appraisal (CTA). Many teams were made on the basis of these test scores. Every half a minute the person speaking was recorded and put into one of seven categorie. At the end of a week, the results of each team which were operating as a company, were presented financially, from which one could differentiate a more effective and less effective company. A number of psychometric tests were made, comprising measures of:

High level reasoning ability (the Critical Thinking Appraisal)

Personality (the 16 scales of the Cattell Personality Inventory or 16PF)

Outlook (the Personal Preference Questionnaire or PPQ, developed specifically for the purpose).

About Dr Meredith Belbin

Meredith Belbin was thirteen when the World War II happened. He always took a political and organisational interest in events all over the world. His parents supported the League of Nations and took Meredith to meetings. HIs family gave employment to Jewish refugees who taught German and gave Meredith a new perspective on world events.

Living in an area that became known as “Bomb” Alley in Sevenoaks, Meredith didn't want to leave with his mother and sisters, he wanted to continue with his schooling at the Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe, where his reports were outstanding. Meredith says that going with one’s strengths and managing the weaknesses came to him in school itself, when his poor performance in Mathematics was overshadowed with excellence in Latin.

From Theory to Practice

After his doctorate, Meredith was called for a research to Cranfield College so he could continue his study of older workers in the industry. He studied more than a hundred companies, how their work patterns changed with age. He noticed how older workers didn't like “pacing”, the method of finishing work on a production line in a given time period. Older workers could be rewarded for accuracy over their speed of work and job satisfaction was high.

Meredith started teaching the benefits of ergonomics, the importance of rest breaks and of paying attention to staff to motivate them and in turn increase and improve productivity. He also work to improve efficiency in production at many companies on the side. “I’ve never got a job for which I’ve applied,” he jokes.

At BX Plastics, a chemical plant in Manningtree UK, Meredith moved the company’s efforts from quality control to finding out why problems occurred earlier in the production line. Many of the costly errors were because of a lack of proofing: assuming that a given method or system will work without even submitting it to testing under the acute adverse conditions. The importance of scientific proof was known then.

Eunice Belbin was then working as a director at the Industrial Training Research Unit (ITRU), a government-funded body set up as a result of the Industrial Training Act. Meredith along with his work at Cranfield also did consultancy for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). He travelled all over the world whenever and wherever there was a question of older people in the industry. In the USA, he worked walong with the US Department of Labor, bringing into the system the underprivileged members of the community whose talents would  have otherwise gone to waste. Meredith noticed that many people suffered from low self esteem but, once they found what they liked and enjoyed doing, got great satisfaction from making contribution at work. He made companies take people from everywhere for free work experience, starting a concept which is now commonplace. Then when the company found a good worker, it was an easy step to get paid work.

ITRU and the research at Henley

While Meredith was working at the ITRU, he was called to be a part of a research at the Administrative Staff College at Henley-on-Thames. Having an interest in group behaviour and individual behaviour, Meredith and Eunice, with Bill Hartston, Jeanne Fisher and Roger Mottram started planning a research project to study management teams at companies while being at work.

The research team got together and selected a few managers from many organisations, who completed psychometric tests: some well-known, such as Cattell’s 16PF and Watson-Glaser’s Critical Thinking Appraisal and others derived by Meredith himself. This team conducted three business games in a year, with eight teams participating in each game. During each game, in a prescribed method, the observers recorded different interactions and contributions from the players or team members, which were scrutinised and categorised at the end of the game. This research formed the basis from which Team Role theory started, although its importance was not recognised completely at the time.

Focus on teamworking

Later in Australia, Meredith worked with his colleagues where he studied intellectual abilities and team working as well. With a main and important principle of building on success and understanding the reasons for failure, he continued researching and turning it into practice, he broke down the bureaucracy and policy which came in the way and hampered companies and focused on giving each person many opportunities to commensurate with their abilities and what interested them. In 1981, Meredith Belbin wrote the Team Role theory in his book, “Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail”. This very book was later known as one of the top fifty management books of all time.

Meredith worked for ICI Paints and Cadbury’s Schweppes, where he reported on how well each worker might be suited for a particular job and for the purpose of recruitment and selection. In the late 1980’s, Meredith found that demand was overtaking the supply and he was forced to work into the night to write and make the reports required, all by hand.

In 1988, Meredith, Eunice and their son, Nigel, formed the Belbin Associates to help promote and educate people on Belbin Team Roles all around the world. The company developed Interplace, a software system which could put Meredith’s wisdom into computerised reports.

In 1993, Meredith published “Team Roles at Work”, which gave a more practical application for Team Role theory in the workplace. Ever since then, Belbin Associates has grown and gone from strength to strength, with distributors spreading the Team Role message to individuals and organisations all over the world.

Meredith Today

In the recent years, Meredith visited China and Russia to speak and educate about the application of Team Roles in different cultures and different regions. His message was well-received and accepted by the Russian Atomic Energy Authority and helped change a lot of attitudes to management in Russia. Rusal, a Russian aluminium company, accepted and embraced Meredith’s philosophy in regards to organisational structure as well as individual differences in the firm.

[Research Belbin (Main Theory)]

 As a Management Theorist Dr. Meredith Belbin along with, Bill Hartson and Jeanne Fisher got together and conducted a field experiment, which is now globally known as the team role theory. This unique and different study took place in England, Reading, at the Administrative Staff College at Henley, Oxon, (now know as Henley Business School), which had an internationally famous 10-week course for successful managers with board potential. A simulation of a real business environment was made and observed over this course, this scientific experiment had specific measures at each stage of progression. Progression would mean the fulfilment of the company mission, so there would be measures recorded at specific step/completion percentage intervals, within each team role.

The study was conducted with eight teams, three times. Each of the three times the business mission would vary changing the scenario/ aspect of business while maintaining teams/departments within a business environment. Eight team’s individual’s behaviour and contribution was recorded and observed. The results of this study gave birth to the Belbin’s questionnaire and team roles theory.

Some teams sometimes just seem to work and others don’t. When things don’t work, it is obvious to all and it often has a profound effect on the people involved, as well as the project or objective to be achieved in the company.

In the 1970s, Dr Meredith Belbin and his research team at Henley Management College started observing teams, with the aim of finding out where and how these differences come about. They wanted to control the dynamics of teams to discover if – and how – problems could be pre- empted and avoided.

Over a period of nine years, international management teams were studied. Each participant then completed a set of psychometric tests, so that attributes such as personality and behaviour could be brought into play and their effects on the team could be accurately considered and measured.

As the research progressed, the research revealed that the difference between success and failure for a team was not dependent on factors such as intellect, but more on the behaviour. The research team began to identify separate clusters of behaviour, each of which formed distinct team contributions or “Team Roles”.

Why Use the Belbin theory?

While managing people, or teams of people, using Belbin makes this job of managing everyone much easier. Belbin theory helps managers make decisions involving their people and teams for the betterment of the company goals.

Managers and leaders in the workplace constantly have to make decisions involving people and teams so Belbin gives managers the tools to make informed decisions about their people and teams, and reduces the risk of making mistakes to a whole new level.

Belbin Reports provide detailed information and insights into how a person will actually behave in the workplace. The Reports contain pages of personalised guidance and advice useful for both the individual and their manager or team leader.  Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of individuals - and how they will contribute to a team - offers many advantages to organizations.

Tens of thousands of organizations globally are already using the Belbin theory.  The uses and applications for it are wide and varied and can be tailored to meet each ones specific needs.

The uses for Belbin are numerous:

It helps in selecting people to form a high-performing team, and developing those teams on an on-going basis;

It helps in making decisions about which individuals to recruit or promote and when;

Resolving conflicts at work between people,

           It helps managers to ensure that they are allocating the right work to the right people and maximizing motivation and performance of everyone,

It provides individuals with the information they need to take the next step on their career path in the company or otherwise,

It helps in building productive work relationships in the company;

It helps in raising self-awareness and personal effectiveness;

and in building mutual trust and understanding at the work place.

Using Belbin gives the company:

Balanced teams based on behavioural contributions and not job titles;

Self-aware people who can adapt their behaviours according to the situation and business needs;

The right people doing the right tasks, leading to better-performing teams;

Depersonalised team conversations, using a common language to discuss team contributions;

Informed decision-making based on fact rather than a gut-feel or doubt;

Confidence when making decisions involving people;

Insight into behavioural strengths and weaknesses that don't necessarily show up on a CV.

Companies using Belbin Related to motorsport & using belbin how they were improved/ effect

We have used Belbin Reports for over 15 years now, and have processed over 8,000 reports. We use a range of behavioural profiling and psychometric tools, but use Belbin most regularly as it is very easy to administer online, provides a value for money solution and reports are easily understood by people undertaking them. The reports are very practical in nature and have multiple applications. We have used them in areas such as coaching, recruitment and selection, executive search assignments, assessment and development centres and team building. I cannot recommend the reports and organisation highly enough.

Campbell Urquhart, Managing Director, White Cube Consulting

Xerox Corporation has always relied on innovation to drive growth. A few years ago, the company was working on a breakthrough product that combined two very different technologies: a new solid-ink system and existing copier technology. The project got a year behind schedule in part because of conflict between key teams representing the two.

About that time, the key VP went through a Belbin Workshop, and realised that using Belbin would help break the log jam. All members of two key teams also went through workshops and learned collaboration skills.  One key insight was that both teams were imbalanced in their Team Roles, both having an overabundance of some roles and gaps in other roles (they were imbalanced in different ways).  Because of these imbalances, neither team could be very productive on its own, and the differences in working styles practically guaranteed conflict between the groups.

Yet the two groups realised that if they combined their strengths, together they could create a well-balanced team. The groups worked through their differences, developing  a better understanding of the each other’s dynamics and develop ground rules that would help them communicate in ways that would avoid future problems.

Xerox credits this work with speeding up the release-to-market of their new ColorQube printer.  The improved collaboration also resulted in significantly fewer post-launch problems compared to other product launches.

[Research team role theories]

Dr. Belbin’s study is recognised by enterprises globally, observed by a personality test.

Dr Belbin’s team role theory benefits from recognising each of 8 categorised personality traits and a ninth ‘specialist knowledge’ role. His study also says that having a proportional mix of different roles within a team makes for increased efficiency/succession rate as opposed to those who did not have a mix of team roles.

The 9 team roles are broken down into consideration with people’s style of work by, working the back offices/operation, customer orientated which is face to face with the customer and Creative/Decision making.

BALANCE is key

During the research, Meredith saw that each of the behaviours were important in getting the team successfully from start to finish. The key was to balance. For example, Meredith Belbin found that a team with no Plants ( an unorthodox and artistic team mate) struggled to come up with the initial spark of an idea with which to push forward. However, once too many Plants were in the team, bad ideas covered the good ones and non-starters were given too much time. Similarly, with no Shaper (challenging and dynamic team mates), the team struggled along without drive and direction, missing the deadlines. With too many Shapers, in-fighting began and morale, what each person desires from a team, was lowered.

Strengths and ALLOWABLE weaknesses

With the strength or contribution each member provides, each Team Role also has an associated allowable weakness: a different side of the behavioural characteristics, which is allowed in the team because of the strength which goes with it.

For example:

Plants could be unorthodox or forgetful, Innovative, artistic, or have philosophical eccentric behaviour. They are intended to solve complex problems.

Their strengths are: Creative, Imaginative, free thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems.

Weakness: ignores incidentals. Too pre-occupied to communicate effectively.

Characteristics: Plants are innovators and inventors and can be highly creative usually. They give original ideas that support innovation. Usually they prefer to work by themselves away from other members, using their imagination in an unorthodox way. They are usually introverts and react strongly to criticism and praise. Their ideas are usually radical and lack practical constraint.

They are independent, and clever because of their original and radical perspective. They don’t always manage to communicate in a compelling way and like to offer their ideas in a practical and relevant way.

Function: The main use of a PL is to challenge conventional and established ways of doing work and give solutions for solving difficult problems. They are needed in the starting stages of projects or when a project is not progressing. PLs have usually made their mark as founders of companies or as originators of new things.

Too many PLs in one team or group may be counter-productive as they spend time reinforcing their own ideas and engaging each other in combat.

Resource Investigators might forget to follow up on a lead. A confident exhibitionist, with good communication skill. They are

expected to seek and develop business opportunities and relationships.  

Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.

Weakness: Over-optimistic. Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has gone.

They are usually enthusiastic and extroverts. They are natural communicators with people everywhere. They negotiate good and love exploring new opportunities and developing contacts. They’re not a great source of original ideas. The RI is effective to take other people's ideas and promote them. They are adept at finding out what is available and from whom. They usually get a warm reception from people because of their warm outgoing nature.

RIs are relaxed and have a strong inquisitive sense and a readiness to see the possibilities in anything new. But if they're not stimulated by others, their enthusiasm fades fast.

Function- RIs are good with exploring and reporting back on ideas, developments or resources outside their  group. They set up external contacts and do negotiations. They have an ability to think on their feet and get information from others.

Monitor Evaluators could be overly critical and slow moving, they have a Critical bigot evaluation behaviour. They are intended for audit’s and investigations.

Strengths: Sober. strategic and discerning. see all options and judge correctly.

Weakness: Lacks drive and ability to inspire others. Can be over critical usually.

Characteristics- Monitor Evaluators are serious-minded, prudent people with a built-in immunity for being over-enthusiastic. They are slow in making decisions always and prefer to carefully think over matters. They have a high critical thinking ability and a good capacity for shrewd judgements keeping all things in account. A good ME does not make intuitive and reckless mistakes. They deal in facts and logic rather than emotion when considering options.

They are often considered over-critical, slow and boring.

Function- MEs are best for analysing problems and evaluating ideas and suggestions. They are very good at weighing up the pro's and con's of options. In a managerial position their ability to make high quality decisions consistently is likely to make them highly regarded everywhere.

Co-ordinators might over delegate leaving themselves little work to do .Leadership behaviour attributes, who is decisive, understands equality and equity. They are intended to lead and delegate work.

Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent. clarifies goals. delegates effectively.

Weakness: Can be seen as manipulative. offloads own share of the work to others.

Characteristics- The distinguishing feature of Co-ordinators from other team members is their propensity for helping others to work towards shared goals. Mature, trusting and confident as they tend to be, they also delegate readily. In interpersonal relations they are quick to spot individual talents and use them for achieving group objectives. While COs are not necessarily the cleverest or most senior members, they are likely to have a broad outlook and perspective always.

The natural goal focus of CO’s sometimes leads them to manipulate others to achieve their personal objectives. Sometimes in situations COs are inclined to clash with Shapers due to their contrasting management styles.

Function- COs do good when put in charge of a team of people with diverse skills and personal characteristics. They perform better in dealing with members of near or equal rank than in directing junior subordinates. Their motto might well be consultation with control and they usually believe in tackling problems very calmly.

Implementers might be slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes Practical behaviour, often a logician. They are intended to practically execute the theoretical.

Strengths: Practical, reliable, efficient. turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done.

Weakness: somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to new possibilities.

Characteristics- Implementers are known for their practical approach and they possess higher than normal levels of self-control and discipline. They are prepared to work hard to ensure things are done as prescribed in a systematic way always. They are typically loyal to the organisation and to the prescribed and established ways of doing things. They are always regarded as someone who does not look for personal agendas and self-interest.

On the other hand IMPs are sometimes inflexible in accepting new ways of doing things, particularly if they are radical or impracticable.

Function- IMPS are valuable in an organisation because of their reliability and capacity for application. They succeed always because they are efficient and because they have a sense of what is feasible and relevant. While many other people might stray favouring the tasks, implementers like to do and neglect things they find not to be to their liking, they are more likely to do what needs to be done in a systematic and relentless way.

Completer Finishers could be accused of taking their perfectionism to the extremes. Perfectionist behaviour who finalises, error checks, bench tests. They are intended for Quality assurance and to meet deadlines.

Strengths: pain stalking, conscientious, anxious. Searches for errors. Polishes and perfects.

Weakness: inclined to worry a lot. reluctant to delegate to others.

Completer Finishers have attention to detail. They always look for perfection and correct errors. CFs are introverts and require less external stimulus comparatively. The CF is trusted to do work to the highest standard and to complete it on time.

The combination of striving for perfection and meeting deadlines usually creates anxiety and CFs are likely to be reluctant to trust others to do work to their own high standards.

Function- The Completer Finisher is invaluable where work demands close concentration and a high accuracy. The standards they usually set make them well suited to situations where precision and high standards are important. CFs also demand the same high standards from other people around them and thats why create their own micro culture where the only standard acceptable is perfection.

Teamworkers become indecisive when unpopular decisions have to be made Passive behaviour, can be intuitive and listen to others. They are intended to build.

Strengths: Co operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.

Weakness: Indecisive in tuff situations. Usually avoid confrontation.

Characteristics. Teamworkers are mild and sociable and are generally supportive and concerned about members. They are flexibility and adapt to different situations and people. TWs are perceptive, diplomatic and caring and good listeners. Because of which they are popular amongst everyone.

Their concern about creating peace and avoiding conflict makes them indecisive when faced with difficult solo decisions.

Function- The TW are like the lubricating oil in a car engine. Unappreciated until not there. They resolve interpersonal problems when situations are tense and people feel uncared for and not appreciated. They usually rise to senior positions because they have few enemies and the fact that they listen to the views and suggestions of others.

Shapers could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done. Resilient multi-tasker who can stay calm while maintaining a high work load effectively. They thrive in situations of pressure by finding effective solutions simultaneously.  

Strengths: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Weakness: Prone to provocation sometimes. Offends people’s feelings usually.

Characteristics- Shapers are highly goal oriented with great drive and energy always. They push themselves and others and overcome obstacles by determination only. They are highly assertive and have very directive styles of management. Shapers are usually competitive and like to win. They often progress upward in organisations because they get results and because people are impressed by their courageous and decisive leadership style.

SHs are not noted for their interpersonal sensitivities and are argumentative and aggressive.

Function- SHs are seen as ideal managers because they generate action and thrive under pressure. They make quick and decisive actions to overcome threats and difficulties or when progress towards goals and objectives is unacceptably slow.

Specialist foucses narrowly on their own subject of choice. Analytical behaviour with a specialist knowledge. They provide specialist progressive leading edge knowledge.

Strengths: Single-minded, self starting, dedicated. provides knowledge and skills in rare supply.

Weakness: Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities.

Characteristics- The Specialist Team Role and the functional title of Specialist is usually confused for. Though both uses are related to people with technical knowledge and expertise, in Team Role they have some very specific attributes.They love to learn and accumulate knowledge. which is why they exist and are single minded and this is their main motivation. The SP is recognised by the members as an expert to turn to for help and guidance.

They avoid being involved in unstructured meetings and discussions and social meetings. They are unyielding when challenged about the validity of their knowledge or field of expertise.

Function- They are not regarded as natural team players but the teams are wise to engage the SP as a means of providing in depth research. As managers, they command respect because of their in-depth knowledge and they can be used to mentor others and raise their technical expertise.

Putting Team members in these roles does not stop their skills or behaviour and benefits by having the capability to fit more than one role, even though the member sticks to their designated role to keep order. Each team role serves a unique purpose during every individual phase in business.


It was first never thought that these high-intellect teams would succeed and the lower intellect teams would not. But, the result of this research was that a few teams, which were thought to be good based on intellect, failed to fulfil their potential.

It became obvious by looking at the different combinations that it was not intellect, but balance, which helped a team succeed. Successful firms were characterised by the compatibility of the roles that the people played while unsuccessful companies were bound to have role conflict. Using information from psychometric tests and the CTA, predictions were made on the roles that people played and ultimately on the company.

In this experiment individuals reacted differently in the same situation and it’s common for individual differences to happen and break the group, because people don’t fit in. But on the other hand, difference in personal characteristics can become a source of strength if they are recognised and taken account of. So we have to understand the nature of these differences is the first important step in managing people, helping in recognising what is useful what is not in a circumstance.

The most successful companies have a mix of different people with many different behaviours. The eight behaviours are different and useful and are called “Team Roles,” and the ninth role is the specialist knowledge. Companies have been employing these since then all over the world.

Reliability and validity are usually used in evaluating psychometric tests.

Reliability is a measure of the internal consistency of a test, while

Validity is concerned with the strength of the conclusions and inferences drawn.

CLUSTERS of behaviour

Internal consistency is the most where test items are repeated, but this makes the focus of the test less overall. Rather than repeating or giving items which look identical, Inter-place (the programme which analyses and produces the Belbin reports) looks for clusters of related behaviour. Like, the Shaper cluster refers to a person who is challenging, competitive, hard driving, tough and outspoken. But that does not mean that everyone who is competitive will necessarily be outspoken too.

Most psychometric tests depend on self-reporting, but the behaviours found may not match with what others observe. The strength of the program, Interplace, rests in its emphasis on construct validity: using many different sources of evidence to draw a conclusion. The system’s outputs are made to take account of the degree of consensus on  the observed behaviour. Disparities between self-analysis and the perceptions of others can provide valuable leads for any action. But formal correlations are very difficult to calculate, as those providing feedback are not really required to make a fixed number of responses. Because genuine responses are more easily obtained and more valuable when forced choices are avoided.

The self observer assessments feature many different behavioural traits for each of the Team Role. But this isn’t the case in a psychometric test, where every single personality trait is measured. To be a good example of a Team Role, a person would have to demonstrate the cluster of positive traits for that role.

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