Contribute is a team exercise from Belbin, and it’s all about helping your team to understand – and value – the nine Belbin Team Roles. From devising comic captions to sourcing a cauliflower and a purple shoe, Contribute demonstrates what contribution each Team Role makes and encourages the team to consider others’ strengths – and what might be missing from the team as a whole.
1. Help your team tell their butterfly expert from their social butterfly
The overarching message of Belbin Team Roles is the celebration of individual difference, but to celebrate it, first you’ve got to recognise what each person has to offer. Rather than receiving instructions from on high, it’s up to the team’s nominated Co-ordinator to establish where talents lie and to decide who should do what. This might lead to the discovery of some latent strengths in the team and will certainly help your resident Co-ordinator to hone their skills in identifying and promote others’ abilities.
2. Put people under pressure, so you can see the cracks
In the workplace, tensions can bubble along under the surface without ever coming to the fore to be resolved. Or things go wrong, but no one knows why. With Contribute, everything moves at speed. Under pressure, people tend to resort to their natural or preferred behaviours, so strengths and weaknesses are more apparent, and it’s difficult to hide. This provides the perfect opportunity to study success and failure, both at individual and team levels.
As one player commented: “If you don't know your strengths, you won't know why you fail.”
3. Give you one exercise for each role, so you can mind the gaps
Teams don’t often balance just like that, and sometimes it’s difficult to see where Team Role contributions might be missing, because we don’t know what we don’t know. If the logic puzzle doesn’t look appealing to anyone, it might suggest that the team is missing a Monitor Evaluator. In real terms, this might mean that ideas are put forward and pursued without due consideration of their merit. Of course, the roles needed are likely to vary from one team to the next, depending on what the team is set up to do, but it’s important to make Team Role composition work by design, rather than by accident.
4. Showcase the tension between different styles
Some need to work alone and others need to bring people together. You might find that the thinking roles (Plants, Monitor Evaluators and Specialists) take themselves off elsewhere to find some quiet thinking space. But not for long. To get her task done, the Shaper needs willing team members to herd into a sheep pen. Blind-folded. And she’s going to blow a shrill whistle in their ears until they come and take part. Contribute illustrates the complementarity of different roles, but also the tensions that can affect individual performance in the workplace. When it comes to the analysis and feedback afterwards, these points can be useful discussion starters for exploring how to accommodate different contributions at work.
5. Show you what your colleagues look like stumbling around wearing blindfolds
Because, when all’s said and done, that’s always good for a laugh.
We’ve seen Contribute bring people together and transform mediocre teams into high-performing teams. It offers practical learning points that translate readily back to the workplace and make a lasting impact.
To help individuals understand what they have to offer, Contribute comes with nine free Belbin Individual Reports (worth £315) free of charge.
Belbin Contribute costs £495 + VAT + delivery.
Add Contribute to your toolbox today and get your team working: