Under pressure: how well do you cope with challenging situations?

Pressure. Some people thrive on it; others buckle. But how can we predict someone’s reaction? And if we have an idea of what this reaction will be, how can we help people to develop?

Understanding your coping strategy

Your behavioural make-up is likely to have a strong influence on your response to pressure. For those who are driven, competitive and enjoy challenges, pressure is beneficial. It enables focus on the goal and deadline, and keeps things fast-paced and interesting. For others, making decisions in crunch situations can be difficult and stressful, so is unlikely to be conducive to success.

In Belbin terms, Monitor Evaluators and Completer Finishers share the desire to get things right (on macro and micro-levels respectively), so time pressure is a natural enemy which threatens the success of a project. Monitor Evaluators are likely to abstain from the decision-making process rather than be forced into a rushed decision. Completer Finishers, who tend to internalise anxiety, may take on increasingly heavy workloads. They’d rather work all hours and let their anxiety climb to unproductive levels, rather than face letting a mistake slip through the net.

Applying the pressure

Pressure can strip away politeness, aspirations, reserve and social codes, to show the real person beneath. And it has been a part of the Belbin Team Role story from the beginning. Meredith Belbin’s ground-breaking research, conducted over the course of nearly a decade in the 1970s, explored individual and team behaviours by putting people under time and competitive pressures to expose characteristics that might not otherwise have come to the fore.

In the original research, a group of managers took part in a business simulation. The exercise was designed to mimic all the problems of decision-making commonly found at work. The managers were scrupulously observed by the research team, who recorded the behaviours they witnessed every thirty seconds, to build up a broader picture of each person’s contribution. From these observations, eight of the nine Belbin Team Roles were discerned. A ninth – the Specialist role – emerged when Dr Belbin began using the Team Role model more broadly in industry.

How does your team measure up?

Our team exercise, Co-operate, is designed to put individuals under pressure so that you can see who you’re really dealing with. Co-operate uses three practical exercises which rely on effective communication, co-operation and decision-making. Rescuing a rocket during launch, using special writing apparatus and collaborating to build shapes, teams must strategise, communicate and sacrifice short-term individual goals for overall success.

As a result, Co-operate is immensely versatile, and has proved popular in a number of different scenarios.

In assessment centres, Co-operate moves beyond the CV and interview. It helps recruiters see past an individual’s ‘best behaviour’ and provides valuable insights into: their strengths; their tendencies to contribute to the team, and any potential pitfalls in the way they work with others.

It’s amazing how quickly – and vocally – people come forward when a practical, time-pressured challenge demands their attention and captures the imagination. As an ice-breaker for a new team, Co-operate gets people working together quickly and familiarises individuals with the diversity of contributions within their team.

When used on an awayday for an existing team, the exercises within Co-operate can offer a microcosm for the problems the team faces in real-life projects. Does the team fail to consult the Monitor Evaluator who can see where they are going wrong, but stands quietly on the side-lines? Do the Completer Finisher and Specialist become bogged down in studying the details of the exercise, and fail to listen to the Co-ordinator outlining a broader approach?

Co-operate can expose Team Role imbalances and sources of underlying conflict within an existing team, helping teams begin to pinpoint where things go wrong on collective endeavours.

The facilitator's guide supplied includes observation forms, so that facilitators can observe participants in real-time and note learning points for later discussion and feedback, whether on a one-to-one basis or as part of a team session.

Delving into detail

Belbin Reports are ideal for exploring individual and team contributions in more depth. The Reports offer personalised guidance and feedback which can help individuals to understand why they might respond to a given situation in a certain way. Armed with an understanding of their behaviours and their impact upon the team, they can ensure that they are working and communicating in a way that will maximise their strengths. Team Reports build on this knowledge, combining individual data to give the team an idea of how their contributions might fit together, and what this means for the rest of the team.

For example, the Team Role Circle provides an overview of distribution of roles within the team, so that individuals can see at a glance where any gaps and overlaps might occur.

Other pages offer information as to who might be best suited to different kinds of work within the team and illustrate where the team might be over-reliant on one individual to represent a particular behavioural contribution.

Next Steps

Are you ready to make Belbin a part of your toolkit today? Contact us to find out more about Co-operate, Belbin Reports, our training courses, bespoke workshops and much more.

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