As a lecturer with more than 20 years of teaching experience, Barbara Kemp really does know what works when it comes to engaging students. She’s a Senior Lecturer in Management at the Oxford Brookes Business School. Barbara teaches Postgraduates on the Global MBA and Masters in Human Resource Management.

How do you use Belbin?

With the MBA, I use Belbin as part of a module with around 100 students per annum on developing leadership capability. We look to understand strengths and weaknesses – maximising the former and minimising the latter. Belbin is one of the ways they develop their self-awareness. They use their Belbin data in their assignments along with their own personal reflections and other data, such as feedback from others.
Many of our students are studying online and are based around the world. I share the Belbin model and rationale before they complete their Belbin Self Perception Inventory. We then complete the seminar where they consider the implications of their own preferred Roles and how they play out within their work context.

Students are always positive about completing their Inventories – we’ve been using Belbin for nearly 20 years – the Global MBA Programme students started back in 2002! Belbin continues to be relevant and students always value their Reports and the Belbin process. Belbin is of further value when they attend their two compulsory residential workshops – students work in teams and put their Belbin Reports to work! It’s always interesting to hear phrases along the lines of “hang on, we’ve got a lot of Shapers in this team…”

Students also find the language of Belbin useful when working in virtual groups – and even more so when they are working across different timezones and cultures. Feeding their Team Roles information in early brings a mutual understanding of how everyone may work together. They can talk about how they want to run an activity and discuss differences in ways of working without judgement – Belbin really is so valuable in this context.
After working in face to face or virtual teams, I always ask students about how they feel about the experience, including use of self-report questionnaires. I ask them if they feel that the Belbin model is equally relevant for virtual teams – we have a great debate around why and how Team Roles can play out in different ways in a virtual team context.

Would you recommend that other MBA programmes use Belbin?

Absolutely. Belbin is a tool which I recommend because it supports the development of self-awareness and can enhance emotional intelligence - both of which are key factors in effective leadership. This is what all MBA programmes aim to do, so it follows that they should all be looking at tools to enhance self awareness such as Belbin. Another reason why I’m so pro Belbin is because I’ve had so much support over the years. Belbin is easy to administer online and it’s a hugely efficient organisation – whenever I ask for help I get a quick response from someone who really knows what they are doing.

I am confident to use Belbin year in, year out, knowing how powerful it is for our students. Their positive feedback coupled with seeing first-hand how it supports teamwork, enables me to be confident that we’ll be using it for many more years to come.

Barbara Kemp
Oxford Brookes University

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Related reading:

Belbin's work with Higher EducationBelbin has been used in a university setting for over 30 years, and enables lecturers to encourage team working and self-reflection; aid work placement; give careers advice and guidance and form study groups and teams.
Belbin's work with the University of Edinburgh:The University of Edinburgh uses Belbin to increase student self awareness, support academic performance and increase students’ global employability.
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