Team Role Theory

What is the definition of a Belbin Team Role?

A Belbin 'Team Role' is one of nine clusters of behavioural attributes identified by Dr Meredith Belbin's research at Henley as being effective in order to facilitate team progress. More information on Team Roles.

What are the 9 Belbin Team Roles?

The nine Belbin Team Roles are: Resource Investigator, Teamworker and Co-ordinator (the Social roles); Plant, Monitor Evaluator and Specialist (the Thinking roles), and Shaper, Implementer and Completer Finisher (the Action or Task roles). More information on the nine Team Roles.

Is Belbin a psychometric test?

No. Belbin measures behaviour, not personality and the Belbin test (the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory or SPI) does not have psychometric properties. Whilst personality remains relatively fixed, behaviour can change depending on our job role, colleagues and environment. Measuring behaviour allows us to draw on evidence from others in the team and to provide actionable insights on how to boost performance. Read more about measuring behaviour vs. personality.

Are Team Roles personality types?

No, Team Roles are clusters of behaviour which are proven to boost team performance. Read more about Team Roles or more about the differences between behaviour and personality.

What is Belbin's theory of Team Roles? / What is Belbin's Team Role theory?

Dr Meredith Belbin is a British researcher who conducted a groundbreaking, decade-long study, into team effectiveness. He observed that people in teams tend to assume different “Team Roles” - clusters of behaviour that had a positive impact on team performance. Dr Belbin discovered that, in order for a team to be successful, the right contributions needed to be brought in at the right time. Each Team Role was found to consist of strengths and allowable weaknesses, the flipsides of those strengths. More about Belbin theory.

Who discovered Belbin Team Roles?

Dr Meredith Belbin and his research team discovered Belbin Team Roles during their research at Henley Management College during the 1970s. More about our history.

What did Meredith Belbin's research show?

See 'What is Belbin's theory of Team Roles?'

What did Belbin say about teams?

Dr Meredith Belbin stated that people working in teams take on different "Team Roles." He defined a Team Role as one of nine clusters of behaviours needed to facilitate team progress. These roles are divided into three categories. The action roles are Completer Finisher, Implementer and Shaper. The thinking roles are: Monitor Evaluator, Plant and Specialist. The social roles are: Co-ordinator, Resource Investigator, and Teamworker.

How effective is Belbin Team Role theory?

Belbin Team Role theory has helped thousands of individuals and organizations worldwide to play to their strengths and build high-performing teams. But don't just take our word for it. See our case studies.

What does Belbin say is the ideal team size?

Four. Meredith Belbin recommends that teams are small (to give everyone airtime and accountability) but sufficient to allow for behavioural diversity. He says they should be even-numbered to promote consensus decision-making, rather than giving one team member a casting vote. More on team size.

How does Meredith Belbin define a team?

Meredith Belbin’s definition of a team is a limited number of people selected to work together, making distinct contributions in order to achieve a common objective. More about teams and Team Roles.

Why was the Specialist Team Role not discovered until later?

The ninth Team Role - the Specialist - was not evident in Dr Belbin’s original research, because the research used a business simulation game which did not require any prior knowledge or expertise. When Dr Belbin began to use Team Role theory in industry in the years that followed, the role of Specialist came to light and was included in the Self-Perception Inventory (SPI).

Why does Belbin talk about weaknesses?

Each Belbin Team Role consists of a number of strengths and a number of allowable weaknesses. Allowable weaknesses are the flipsides of the corresponding strength - the trade-off for making that contribution. For example, a Monitor Evaluator is able to remain level-headed and make sound decisions, but can appear as unenthusiastic. Belbin states that we should play to, and hone, our strengths and manage our weaknesses, perhaps by asking others in the team to help with those areas where we struggle.Whilst some competency frameworks suggest that we should try to ‘improve’ our weaknesses, research shows that this is often wasted effort and tends to erode our strengths in the long run. More about Team Role weaknesses.

What qualities make someone a good team member?

In Belbin terms, the most important contributors to being a good team member are to be aware of your strengths (and how to articulate and promote them), to be receptive to feedback, and to be aware of and value the strengths of those around you.

Do people have more than one Team Role?

Yes, no one ‘is’ a Team Role or has just one. Your Belbin Individual Report will show a number of preferred, manageable and least preferred roles (according to your own views) and a spread of Team Roles taking Observer feedback into account. Generally, our top or preferred roles are those we can play most easily. Manageable roles are those which can be cultivated, and least preferred roles are those which we struggle to fulfil and are best delegated to others whenever possible.

What are the nine roles of an effective team?

The nine Belbin Team Roles are: Resource Investigator, Teamworker and Co-ordinator (the Social roles); Plant, Monitor Evaluator and Specialist (the Thinking or Cerebral roles), and Shaper, Implementer and Completer Finisher (the Action or Task roles).

What are the 3 main types of roles within a team?

The three types of roles are: Social or Communication roles (Resource Investigator, Teamworker and Co-ordinator); Thinking or Cerebral roles (Plant, Monitor Evaluator and Specialist) and Action or Task roles (Shaper, Implementer and Completer Finisher).

Should people with opposite Team Roles work together?

People with opposite (or complementary) Team Roles can make an effective pairing, since they are likely to cover a good number of Team Role contributions between them. However, differences in viewpoint may make it challenging for them to work together, unless there is also some behavioural common ground. More on complementary Team Roles.

What would someone with opposite Team Roles be like?

Most of the Team Roles (apart from Monitor Evaluator) have an "opposite". Some people have opposite Team Roles amongst their top Team Roles. At best, this may mean that they are able to adapt their style according to what the situation requires. At worst, this may make someone appear inconsistent. For example, a Shaper-Teamworker might be adept at deciding between forthright and diplomatic approaches. Alternatively, they might seem to others in the team to alternate between dominant behaviour and slipping into the background. Much depends on the individual’s self-awareness and how well they are able to play each role.

Which Team Role is best?

No Team Role is better than any other. Rather, each Team Role is needed in a specific situation. For example, Plants and Resource Investigators are needed to generate and explore new ideas, whereas Completer Finishers are needed to check details and ensure high quality output. Find out your Team Roles.

Which Team Role makes the best leader?

No Team Role is better than any other. Rather, each Team Role is needed in a specific situation. For example, Plants and Resource Investigators are needed to generate and explore new ideas, whereas Completer Finishers are needed to check details and ensure high quality output. Find out your Team Roles.

Which Team Roles do you need to be a good salesperson/accountant/engineer etc?

We’re often asked to provide templates for different functional roles. In truth, many different Team Role combinations can fulfil a particular job effectively. Much depends on the individual’s ability to play to their strengths to best effect, the Team Role composition of the rest of the team and the organizational culture.

Which Belbin Team Roles work well together?

It depends what you mean by 'well'! For most Team Roles, people with similar styles are likely to find plenty of common ground, but might not be aware of what is missing from their pairing. (The exceptions are Plant, Shaper and Specialist, who are likely to compete or be territorial.) People with complementary styles will cover more Team Role bases, therefore they are more likely to be productive, so long as each can value the other's contribution.

Can Team Roles change over time?

Yes, because your Belbin Team Roles are a snapshot of our behaviour at work at a certain time. Behaviour can change according to a number of factors, including our job role, environment and the team surrounding us. It is unusual for a preferred Team Role to become a least preferred role and vice versa, but it is common for manageable roles to be cultivated and come to the fore. We recommend completing the SPI to update your Belbin Individual Report throughout your career. Learn more about Belbin Reports.

What are preferred/manageable/least preferred roles?

Each of us has two or three certain Team Role behaviours that sit most comfortably with us - the way we prefer to work. These are our preferred roles. Most also have some manageable roles - these are roles which we take on from time to time and can be called upon or cultivated when needed. We also have a number of least preferred roles. These are behaviours we find difficult to adopt. It’s ideal to work with others with complementary Team Roles, so that work can be shared and delegated according to each person’s strengths.

The Belbin questionnaire

What is the Belbin test called?

The most well-known questionnaire produced by Belbin is the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory or SPI. In some research studies, it is also referred to as the Belbin Team Role Self-Perception Inventory (BTRSPI). This is the self-reporting element of the Belbin process. In other words, it’s completed by the person who wants to find out their Belbin Team Roles. The results are processed to create the Belbin Individual Report. The second questionnaire, completed by the person’s colleagues and managers, is called the "Observer Assessment, and this rounds out the Individual Report with responses from others. How to get hold of an SPI/Report. Copyright questions.

What are Observer Assessments?

The Observer Assessment (OA) is a questionnaire that consists of two ticklists of words and phrases describing various behavioural characteristics. Once someone has completed an SPI, they can request colleagues, managers and those they manage to complete Observer Assessments. This is a crucial part of the Belbin process, because it provides behavioural evidence to corroborate – or contrast with – the individual’s Self-Perception. In other words, it helps the individual to understand the Team Role behaviours others in the team are witnessing. More about Observer Assessments.

Is the Belbin Observer Assessement anonymous?

The Belbin Individual Report shows patterns of feedback from Observers, but does not attribute words or phrases from the Observer Assessment to particular individuals. See how Observer responses are used in the Belbin Individual Report.

What is the difference between Belbin and Myers Briggs?

Myers Briggs (or MBTI®) measures innate personality types, whereas Belbin measures clusters of behaviour. We can adapt our behaviour according to our functional role and working environment. Read more about behaviour and personality.

Does Belbin theory work for virtual teams?

Yes. Belbin is a universal language which enables virtual and hybrid teams to overcome geographical and cultural boundaries. Read our white paper on Belbin in virtual teams. View the results of our survey on Team Roles and remote working.

Does Belbin work in different cultures?

Yes. Belbin is successfully used worldwide and with multinational and cross-cultural teams. We have conducted in-depth research into Belbin and cultural difference using data from over twenty countries. Read our statistical report examining cultural difference and Belbin Team Roles. View our list of global distributors.

What about Belbin reliability and validity?

Belbin reliability is good across all Team Roles. A series of independent, peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated that Belbin has good convergent, discriminant and concordant validity. However, it is important to note that reliability and validity are measures that pertain to psychometric tests, and the Belbin SPI does not have psychometric properties. For more in-depth information, please see Our Methodology or read our comprehensive review, which includes information on administration, scoring, reliability, validity and bias.

Accessing Belbin

How can I find out my Team Roles?

The only sanctioned method for finding out your Team Roles is to complete the Belbin SPI to receive a Belbin Individual Report. This will explain your Team Role preferences and give in-depth guidance and advice on how to promote and articulate your strengths. You will also have the opportunity to add Observer Assessments, so you will have the opportunity to see how others perceive your strengths.

Is there a free Belbin test?

No, there is no sanctioned self-scoring or free Belbin test available. Any self-scoring questionnaire and grid is outdated. We own the copyright and do not allow this to be reproduced in any form, even for educational purposes. We take action against companies breaching our copyright, including educational institutions. How to find out your Team Roles. More about our copyright.

How do I score my Belbin test?

Uh-oh. You don't. Please see here for details.

Is the Belbin test copyright?

Yes, the Self-Perception Inventory (and all other Belbin assessment questionnaires) are protected by our copyright. We do not allow the SPI to be reproduced in any form and have taken action against hundreds of companies breaching our copyright. More about Belbin copyright.

Can I reproduce the Belbin test for students/education?

No, Belbin owns the copyright for the Self-Perception Inventory (and other tests) and we do not allow the test to be reproduced in any form. We are aware of the argument that educational institutions can reproduce up to 5% of a book for educational purposes. However, we have a ruling that states that the SPI is exempt from this, since reproducing this questionnaire poses a considerable threat to business income. We have taken successful legal action against educational institutions in breach of our copyright. For educational institutions wishing to offer Belbin to their students, we offer a separate suite of Belbin Reports suitable for students, called Belbin Get Set. This is available at a lower rate than the professional Belbin Reports. More about Belbin for students.

How do I log into my Belbin account?

If you are an account holder and cannot access your Belbin account, please contact us (using the form below) or the Belbin distributor who set the account up for you. If you are completing a Self-Perception Inventory, you will need an invitation (usually a link) from whoever manages your account.

How can I buy Belbin reports?

You can find out more about the different Reports, view our pricing options or go straight to the order form.

Which Belbin package is right for me?

Everything starts with the Belbin Reports. If you’re running team sessions, you can also purchase games and films to help consolidate learning. For consultants or organisations using Belbin on an ongoing basis, the ‘All You Need’ package offers a discount on these resources, Reports and Accreditation training. If you need any help with finding the right fit for you, please contact us using the form below and we’ll be happy to help.

What Belbin games and resources are available?

The two Belbin games are Co-operate and Contribute. Co-operate helps teams to collaborate and allows for observation, which is ideal for assessment centres. Contribute is focused more specifically on the nine Team Roles. The Belbin film, Fire Toast and Teamwork, is also available to help consolidate learning. We also have a number of session ideas and handouts designed to help you run your own sessions.

Belbin training

Do I need to be accredited to use Belbin reports?

You don’t need to be accredited to purchase Belbin Reports, but if you’re looking to use Belbin in your organisation, the accreditation course will give you a grounding in Team Role theory and practice in feeding back the Belbin Reports. Upon passing the accreditation test, you’ll be able to use our accredited logo and will receive ongoing support and exclusive benefits. If you’re looking for more of a taster session to help you get to grips with the basics, try our Practical Workshop.

Do you have a Belbin 'train the trainer' course?

Yes, the Belbin Accreditation Course.

Everything else

Do you have a Belbin representative in my country?

Hopefully! Here’s the full list. If there’s no one near you, please use the contact us form to get in touch with Belbin HQ using the form below and we’ll be happy to help.

I've done Belbin. What do I do next?

If your team have completed Individual Reports, a Team Report can collate these findings, so you can see how the team operates as a whole, and where any gaps, overlaps and conflict might arise. If your team needs to consolidate their learning, why not try the Contribute game? If you’re looking for more suggestions, check out this article.

What are the disadvantages of teamwork?

Teamwork isn’t always the best way to work. It can slow progress, overcomplicate things or diminish accountability. It’s needed when problems are too complex for one person to tackle alone. Read about this on our blog.

Should I put my Team Roles on my CV?

It can be useful to identify your strengths on your CV. Your Belbin Individual Report contains useful words and phrases to describe your working styles, and your list of Observer Words (the words others ticked to denote the behaviours they see) can help you to describe yourself. However, to make sure it’s accurate, check out our copyright information.

How do I answer teamwork questions at interview/ on application forms?

If you’re new to work, the has a section dedicated to presenting yourself in applications or at interview. See also: Should I put my Team Roles on my CV?

How do I cite...?

You can quote information from this website with reference © Belbin, www.belbin.com, 2022. If you are referring to Belbin on your own website, please include a backlink to www.belbin.com or to the relevant page of our site. To cite Meredith Belbin’s books, the following details may be helpful: Author: R. M. Belbin ‘Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail’ was first published in 1981. The most recent edition (3rd edition) was published in 2010. ‘Team Roles at Work’ was first published in 1993. A new edition is due to be published in 2022.

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