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Does your team speak 'Belbin'?

With Belbin, you find out what you are – a Plant, a Resource Investigator etc – and then you tell everyone in your team and stick to the work that suits you. Right?

Not exactly.

At Belbin, we hesitate to say someone is a particular role. First off, each of us typically has two or three preferred roles we can play, and these all interact to shape our behaviours, forming a unique Team Role ‘fingerprint’, not a pigeon-hole.

Secondly, Belbin Team Roles can be used to describe our approach to the work we do, not just our behaviours. And the interplay between the two can be interesting and complex, because few of us can play to our strengths all the time. In reality, we often face opportunities – and challenges – to move beyond our preferred behaviours.

At the moment, with many of us working remotely and dealing with additional stressors, chances for misunderstandings and miscommunications are rife, and clarity is more important than ever.

So, how do we use Team Roles to help define and delegate tasks and responsibilities?

Here is our guide to describing work in Belbin Team Role terms, all of which can be heard around Belbin HQ on a regular basis!

“I think we need to ME this” (Monitor Evaluator)

Often heard at the end of the ideas phase, where lots of Plant contributions have been made, and there is perhaps a temptation to press forward with one idea in particular.

This is a way of creating time and space between idea and implementation, because the ME’s considered, logical analysis is needed to ensure that all implications have been fully considered, rather than going with the most eye-catching prospect.

“Please could you CF this for me?” (Completer Finisher)

If you’re seeking a Completer Finisher touch to a document or project, it means that it needs to be checked for errors or omissions.

Those with high Completer Finisher spot the details that others might miss and will work as long as it takes to reach the highest standards.

It’s important to note that this instruction indicates that the work is close to completion, so suggested changes should be restricted to ‘polishing’ it to perfection, not evaluating the overall idea or strategy.

“I’m going to put my Co-ordinator hat on.”

Note: spoken by the person with high Co-ordinator in their profile, since they’re more than likely to be the one describing what is needed!

Often means that others are becoming caught up in ideas, processes or details and failing to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Or perhaps that efforts are disparate and not working towards the same outcome.

“We need to be fairly Implementer about this.”

Means that an organised, systematic approach is required for a task, particularly one where something might otherwise slip through the net or efforts might be wasted.

Variation: “We’re being too Implementer about this” – when the desire to complete a task overwhelms the point of the task, such as working methodically through a spreadsheet of contacts without considering the intended outcome.

“We need a Specialist approach.”

The Specialist role is all about a love of learning and delving into subjects in depth.

If you’re investing in this kind of work, you want someone to work autonomously to navigate their way all around a particular topic and report back.

This kind of research is likely to take time.

“Can we be a bit Planty about this?”

Often invoked at the very beginning of a project when staring at a blank page, or in desperation when none of the usual suspects has worked and you need completely fresh ideas.

People with Plant high in their profile are highly creative and able to think of solutions which haven’t occurred to others.

Signals that you don’t want ideas to be critiqued yet, just volunteered.

“I’m going to have to be the Shaper on this one.”

Everything is drifting and the deadline is rapidly approaching.

Someone needs to get everyone moving and keep an eye on the clock.

Note: it’s rarely other team members requesting this contribution, because they’re likely to be having a lovely time and not realise that Shaper behaviour is needed until it’s too late.

“Let’s RI the heck out of this.”

Often said with considerable enthusiasm, especially if more than one RI is present and excited about a new prospect.

Means exploring, making good use of relevant contacts and discovering possibilities, without the threat of a strong Monitor Evaluator bringing them back to Earth with a bump.

“Let’s take a Teamworker approach.”

Perhaps said if providing support above and beyond what is required, or giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

Those with Teamworker high in their profile are perceptive and diplomatic, and prioritise others’ feelings, especially within the team.

So this might be more commonly said to those who don’t have such high Teamworker!

We know that times are tough. We’re here to make communication and collaboration a little less bumpy. Communication is vital right now, especially as we are navigating hybrid working.

Contact us [email protected] to see how Belbin Team Roles can help you and your team.

To find out more about the nine Belbin Team Role behaviours click here.


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