Seeing as we all have more than one Team Role strength, it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between them! Here are a handful of the common areas of confusion...
Plants (PL) and Resource Investigators (RI)
These two roles tend to be confused because both are seen as ‘creative’. In practice, the distinction between the two is important. Plants are more creative when left alone and kept free from disturbance, whereas Resource Investigators seek and need the stimulus of others.
This means that they thrive under very different conditions. Plants need a sympathetic and appreciative manager, a liberal atmosphere and an unstructured or loosely structured environment. Resource Investigators operate well in a fast-moving environment and in coping with the sudden or unexpected crisis.
Implementers (IMP) and Completer Finishers (CF)
These are both regarded as 'action' roles but each takes a different approach to a task. Implementers are effective at building up and executing methodical systems and processes. Completer Finishers, however, are more concerned with getting the details right. Whilst an Implementer would work to get things done as efficiently as possible, a Completer Finisher would be more likely to miss deadlines in the quest for perfection.
Shapers (SH) and Implementers (IMP)
Both roles have a desire for action, but this can manifest in different ways. For Shapers, the drive to meet the deadline necessitates keeping the team focused on, and challenged by, their goals, without getting involved in the whys and wherefores. Implementers motivate themselves to meet deadlines by planning the most practical way of working and following this method until the work is done.
The more you use the Belbin Team Role language, the easier it becomes to remember the nuances and behaviours of each of the Team Roles. We run Accreditation courses for those of you who would like real in-depth understanding of the theory and the reports.
For those who prefer a more hands-on practical session, have a look at our 'How to...' Sessions: http://www.belbin.com/belbin-for-trainers/how-to-sessions