Creative and inventive individuals, Plants are the ones in the team most likely to come up with new ideas and suggestions. The name comes from Dr Belbin’s original research. It was discovered that there was no initial spark of an idea in a team unless a creative person was “planted” in each team.
Plants can tackle complex problems in new and interesting ways – they’re lateral thinkers who can provide imaginative and original lines of thought when the team is stuck for ideas. As a result, they need to be given the space and time to think, producing ideas the team can put to good use.
Plants are not always appreciated in very structured organizations, because their way of thinking can cause disruption and change the way things are done. But that’s what makes them essential. It is the Plant who offers the germ of an idea which can lead to success, and without this, teams can stagnate.
When they’re preoccupied with whatever they’re working on, they can be unaware of what is going on elsewhere in the team. They’re one of the Team Roles who can seem at
a distance from the rest of the team, off in their own little world, and may have difficulties communicating with others in the team who do not see things the same way they do.
Because of their original way of thinking, Plants’ ideas may be radical and lacking practicalities. In addition, they might focus on an idea that interests them, rather than the one that meets the team’s requirements. This is why they must depend on others in the team to evaluate their ideas and put them into practice. But it isn’t always plain sailing. Plants can reject criticism or take offence if their chosen idea is not taken on by the rest of the team.
Too many Plants in a team can cause problems too, because each person will be more concerned with their own ideas, rather than working with others to bring one idea to fruition.
Whilst Plants are bound to want to take ownership of their ideas, this can be taken too far. Plants shouldn’t be allowed to try and take over, when collaboration with others would offer better results for the team.
Plants are best managed by a Co-ordinator who can make best use of their talents and help keep their ideas in line with the team’s needs. As managers, Plants work well when supported by a Monitor Evaluator, whom they can use as a sounding board, or an Implementer, who can transform their ideas into practical action.
Give them time and space to be creative. Listen to their ideas and encourage them to explain them.
Impose too many restrictions, or be overly critical before they’ve had the chance to explore an idea fully.
Plants need space and time to think. They can struggle with bureaucracy and find very structured workplaces too restrictive.
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A team's success or failure in Team Role terms will depend very largely on its composition, but if the team is well composed there is still potential for weaknesses to manifest.