Can Belbin Team Roles change?

Yes, Team Roles can change over time, as our experience, functional role and working environment changes. Whilst a complete reversal of roles is unlikely, you may find that Team Roles move up or down your profile.

Here's a little more detail.

Belbin measures behaviour, rather than personality.

Whilst the two are interlinked (personality influences behaviour), personality remains fairly static, whereas behaviour isn’t so fixed. Since behaviour changes, we can expect our Team Roles to change as well.

"A snapshot"

Belbin is a snapshot – a recording of a set of behaviours at a particular time.

Using Belbin regularly can:

  • aid personal development;
  • enable teams to work more effectively together;
  • help to resolve conflict within the team,
  • and address difficulties someone might be experiencing at work.

Team Roles provide a framework to discuss what’s working and what’s not, whether for an individual in a particular function, a working environment, or the organisation as a whole.

What causes our Team Roles to change?

The way we contribute and interact at work can change and develop throughout our career.

It’s often beneficial to adjust our behaviour in both the short- and long-term to meet specific needs.

As someone’s job role evolves, certain behaviours may no longer be required, so other Team Roles (so-called "manageable roles") might be cultivated in their place.

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1. Experience and maturity

According to our research, those who are new to the workforce tend to be less definitive about their preferences. As they grow in confidence at work and gain self-knowledge, they are likely to find that their behavioural "identity" becomes more established, with their preferred roles becoming more pronounced.

2. A new job

A change in functional role can bring out different behaviours. For example, promotion from a process-oriented role to management might require a shift in focus from organising tasks (Implementer) to organising people (Co-ordinator). An Implementer with Co-ordinator as a manageable role might cultivate their Co-ordinator behaviour in order to fulfil the new role.

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3. The team has changed

When someone leaves the team, it may create a Team Role "void", which needs to be filled. Likewise, if a new person joins the team (perhaps a strong example of a Resource Investigator), others who had been "covering" this Team Role territory might find that their roles shift to accommodate the newcomer.

4. Aspirations and cultural considerations

If someone aspires to play a certain Team Role, they can maximise their Team Role strengths accordingly and "practise" the role until it comes more naturally. If a particular combination of roles is viewed in the organisational culture as advantageous for career progression, for example, individuals will begin to follow the trend and work on building those particular strengths.

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5. Role learning

Understanding your Belbin Team Roles – and the roles of those around you – can change the way you behave. As you learn how to maximise your strengths and manage your weaknesses, your contributions are likely to become stronger and more defined.

How much are Team Roles likely to change?

Since personality underpins behaviour, we tend to have a natural affinity for some roles over others. Manageable roles may come to the fore, but it's unusual to see a complete reversal of Team Roles. If Team Roles do change considerably from one occasion to the next, it is worth collecting Observer Assessments (Belbin’s 360-degree feedback) to corroborate your own view with those of colleagues.

When was the last time you received a Belbin Report?

Have your Team Roles changed? You can find out here.

Are you asked this question a lot?

If you're regularly working with teams, or coaching managers, why not attend one of our practical one-day workshops? We'll answer many more questions like this, as well as giving you all the top tips and practical advice you need.

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