Occasionally, an individual’s behaviour can have a disproportionate effect on the team as a whole. Sometimes this effect is a positive one, but as consultants, we tend to be involved when the effect is detrimental to the team. Here's a case study from Barrie Watson, Belbin guru:

The Scenario

“I was approached by the directors of an American electronic components manufacturer. From meetings with the CEO and other directors, it was elicited that the main team issue was the Operations Director. It was claimed that his behaviour alone rendered business meetings a waste of time, as they usually contained lots of conflict, apportioning blame and slanging matches.

The Team Building Event

Each director completed a Belbin Self‐Perception Inventory (SPI) and Observer Assessments (OA) on one another. The teambuilding event was designed and involved:

  • Providing and explaining the Belbin reports for each person.
  • Explaining the issue of difficult Team Role chemistry. We tend to be comfortable with people who display similar behaviours to ourselves, but more effective with people who have an ‘opposite’ Team Role profile.
  • Conducting a business simulation exercise: this involved each director reporting back on how they interacted with the other directors during the exercise and which of these interactions they enjoyed the most and least. (Care was taken to avoid personal or speculative comments.)


Two weeks after the workshop, each director was given a one-hour slot to discuss their Belbin reports and devise a personal effectiveness strategy. Each director demonstrated a better understanding about the difference between difficult Team Role chemistry (contrasting/opposite Team Roles) and problem behaviour (too many allowable/non‐allowable weaknesses without the corresponding strengths). This, they reported, helped the interaction between each of them, both inside and outside formal meetings. There was a consensus that their formal meetings were much more effective. The Financial Director summed it up by saying: “We sometimes end up laughing now about something that previously we would have fought over”.

The 'Bad Apple'

The director whose ‘difficult’ behaviour was having a detrimental effect on meetings made good progress as a result of his enhanced awareness and mutual feedback. This improvement was verified after three months by each director obtaining a new set of Observer Assessments from each of the other directors. There was a marked decrease in the number of high-scoring List B words and a corresponding increase in List A words. This showed that the strengths of each behaviour were being seen and valued more by others and not being overshadowed by corresponding weaknesses.

Next Steps

If you would like the skills and knowledge to be able to use Belbin to facilitate similar results to Barrie's, then have a look at our training courses. The whole range of Belbin Reports can be purchased directly from us - contact us to find out more!



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