How often do you hear of a senior member of a management team moving organisation and taking their number two with them?

The fortunes of a company often turn on the combination at the top, as in the case of a Chairman and a Managing Director. Funnily enough, it does not seem to matter who has which title. If the pairing works, it works regardless.

Less well known are pairings in middle management and in the professional services. But wherever they occur, effective pairings should not be disturbed.

How often do you hear of a member of senior management moving organisation and taking their number two with them?

Dr Meredith Belbin shares an example of this:

"I am reminded once by an experience in a plastic bottle-making company in Leicester. Its largest department produced large quantities of bottles in a mass production process. Head of the department was a well-spoken Irishman who was effective in communicating both with the Board and the workers. His close assistant was a very able technical manager though as it happened I never heard him utter a complete sentence. The success of the department and the company led to expansion of the business.

Now an offshoot had to be found. A new small factory had been bought in a neighbouring town and was judged suitable for the company’s needs. A factory manager had to be appointed. Our Irishman was the obvious candidate. Could he bring his technical manger with him? No, he was needed where he was. Our Irish manager looked distraught. But the plan went ahead. It was not long before the outcome became clear. The technical manager failed to fulfil himself as a departmental manager and the new factory soon had to close."

It's not just us who believe this.  Business Insider conducted an analysis of super-successful business partnerships and concluded that there was a common trend among successful partnership "the most well rounded pairs recognised their individual limitations and respected what the other could bring to a partnership".

Which of the Belbin Team Roles do you think would make an effective pairing? How can you manage pairings where the people involved show similar Team Role strengths? Or completely opposite Team Role strengths?

Next steps

To understand more about the effectiveness of pairings within your organisation, come and join us at an Introduction to Belbin session. You will find out more about our Working Relationships Reports which help you analyse how specific pairings of people will work together.

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