We can’t say it enough at the moment: we know that there’s more to the current crisis than Team Roles. But events are unfolding quickly. Many managers can’t see their teams. Our professional and personal worlds are overlapping more than ever.

In this environment, it’s useful to have a common language we can use to describe differences in why people behave and react as they do, so that individuals, teams and organisations can ensure that their business response is appropriate and measured.

So, we wanted to talk about the different ways that people respond to a crisis. As ever, we’ve distilled characteristics into each Team Role for ease of reference, but of course, each of us has several Team Role strengths which nuance our behaviours.

 

Shaper Belbin Team Role behaviour

Shapers thrive in challenging situations. They work well under pressure and are adept at responding to rapidly-changing circumstances with decisive leadership. However, without other Team Roles balancing things out, they are likely to take immediate, forceful action to quash the threat. There is a risk that they might ignore Monitor Evaluators whose careful analysis slows the response time.

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Resource Investigator Belbin Team Role behaviour

Resource Investigators also respond well to quickly-moving events. Natural communicators, they are most likely to have an ear to the ground, so can be crucial in obtaining the up-to-the-minute information the business needs. They are well-placed to maintain the business relationships on which we all rely, and are key to seeking out new opportunities, such as taking in-person offerings online. As enthusiastic individuals, Resource Investigators tend to remain upbeat and may struggle with isolation or if surrounded by those whose response is more pessimistic.

Implementer Belbin Team Role behaviour

Implementers are likely to struggle the most with changing events which disrupt plans and threaten efficiency. However, as practical and reliable individuals, they are also invaluable in imposing order on the ensuing chaos. In order to make transitions more manageable for them, leave them out of the ideas phase and include them only when at the stage of formulating plans to move forward.

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Co-ordinator Belbin Team Role behaviour

Co-ordinators are likely to take events in their stride and focus on progress and restoring control. Since they’re conscious of priorities, they are a sound barometer of whether the team’s efforts and talents are being used in the right way. With a strong Co-ordinator at the helm, each person knows what they need to do. However, it isn’t all plain sailing. Co-ordinators are likely to face challenges in achieving consensus and ensuring that all voices are heard, whilst keeping forward momentum.

Teamworker Belbin Team Role behaviour

Teamworkers can usually be found at the heart of a crisis, offering help and ensuring that others have what they need. However, they struggle with the responsibility of making difficult decisions, so it’s best if that kind of work can be handled by others in the team. They may also find it difficult to operate at physical distance from the rest of the team, since they’ll miss the social element of teamworking more than will other roles. This said, a Teamworker tends to track the team’s pulse, so whilst they might find the situation unsettling if others do, they are more than willing to adapt to whatever needs to be done. And if morale can be boosted along the way, so much the better!

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Specialist Belbin Team Role behaviour

Specialists tend to respond by seeking to learn as much as possible about the situation in question. This may frustrate others who want to take immediate action, but the Specialist will want to ensure that expertise is at the heart of any given solution. In a crisis, their tendency for information-gathering may seem unfeeling or even ghoulish to others, but it is generally governed by the idea that knowledge is power when it comes to tackling problems. As with this Team Role behaviour more generally, the key to getting the best from the Specialist lies in the ability to extract key points without suffering from information overload.

Plant Belbin Team Role behaviour

When faced with a brick wall, Plants want to think around corners, offering imaginative solutions to problems. Their immense value is in thinking laterally and coming up with answers that no one else has considered. However, this only works if the Plant is focused on the problem in question and if the proposed solution is practicable and delivered in a timely fashion. Ensuring these parameters are firmly in place is the responsibility of the rest of the team – don’t leave it to the Plant!

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Monitor Evaluator Belbin Team Role behaviour

Monitor Evaluators are important voices in a crisis, because they undertake careful thought and analysis before announcing a decision, considering all possible ramifications. Unlike others, they are not swayed by emotional considerations. However, immediate crises rarely afford them what they would consider adequate time to arrive at decisions, so they are likely to be uncomfortable if placed under considerable time pressure. This departure from their comfort zone is likely to manifest as pessimism. This is a way of guarding themselves against the likelihood of making strategic mistakes.

Completer Finisher Belbin Team Role behaviour

Completer Finishers may struggle if changes are to be rushed through, as they will feel under immense pressure to ensure that the details are correct. As a result, they are likely to suffer the most with anxiety and may respond to this by taking on a heavier workload and working all hours to meet their commitments. They need careful management to ensure that they are able to meet deadlines without too great a personal cost. This said, their adherence to the highest standards is important in a situation which can lead others to cut corners.

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How is your team faring? Do you recognise anyone from the descriptions above?

If you would like a pdf download of this article, please download here. This is great to share with colleagues, teams and clients.

And of course if you have any other questions, please get in touch.

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