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Belbin on Team Effectiveness - Team Roles Audit
Human Resources » Motivation & Leadership

Chrm Message From: jitendramahato Total Posts: 13 Join Date: 07/01/2008
Rank: Executive Post Date: 02/05/2008 04:01:24 Points: 65 Location: United States

Dear All,

You may have come across Belbin's Team Roles Audit Instrument and Psychometric Testing. The enclosed article summarizes some of the theory that Belbin has worked upon over time.

Thought would share with all.

Management & Leadership In Teams

Why they succeed or fail - R. Meredith Belbin


An understanding of the importance of team building will always be a major factor in the successful growth and development of businesses. The ideal individual for a given job cannot be found. He cannot be found because he cannot exist. Any attempt to list the qualities of a good manager demonstrates why he cannot exist. Really speaking, they are mutually exclusive. A good manager should be highly intelligent and he must not be too clever. He must b sensitive to people’s thinking. He must be dynamic and patient but at the same time forceful. He must be a fluent communicator and good listener. He must be reflective and must be able to take right decisions at right time.

No individual can combine all these qualities. But a team of individuals can combine these qualities. A team can renew and regenerate itself by new recruitment as individual team members leave or retire, and it can find within itself all those conflicting characteristics that cannot be united in any single individual. The purpose of forming a team is to share a power because concentration of power tends to corrupt.

Henley used a syndicate approach to educate the managers. A syndicate comprised ten or eleven members, carefully selected to give a balance in background and experience. Many people believe that syndicate operation is virtually the only feasible way of creating a suitable learning environment for mature managers. The individually brilliant managers can be disappointing in a team while ordinary managers can bring out wonders. The EME (Executive Management Exercise) was developed by Ben Aston at Henley as management game. The aim was “to create a high intensity reference experience that integrated many management skills that are otherwise treated on fragmentary basis.” the EME was interactive game comprising between six and eight companies each of which had six members.

Performance depended not only on the decision made within the company but also on decisions made by other companies in respect of both home and export markets. financial returns made available through computer, gave results over period of twelve quarters and the aim was to finish with largest possible share of assets.

Over a decade EME has undergone a period of continuous development, but whatever the differences, results have been generally a fair reflection of company of team effectiveness.

To find out how best minds in the team behave, the directing staff at Henley formed management teams as EME. They titled the teams as Apollo. They placed the members with high mental ability in that team. So the common perception was that, the team with most clever person would win. But the results were shocking as Apollo finished last. There were so many flaws present in Apollo. The team members spend large part of their time in abortive debate, trying to persuade to other members of team to adopt their point of view. None seems to convert another or be converted. There was no single decision made by the team. The main problem with this Apollo team was the over concentration on coming top which provides an unconscious training in Anti team working. Thus the Apollo syndrome refers to a phenomenon found in groups whose members are chosen for their high mental capability whereby destructive tendencies results in underachievement by the team.

Thus the general level of mental ability was not a decisive factor but some other characters, which were neglected in first place but they were more important. One of them is the similar personality in the group. The various basic types of teams are as follows.

1. Stable extroverts

2. Anxious extroverts

3. Stable introverts

4. Anxious introverts

‘Stable extroverts’ are known to fulfill them and excel in jobs, which place a liaison work and where cooperation is sought from others. They put well together, enjoy group work, they adopt versatile approach. They flourish as sales representative and do well in personal management.

‘Anxious extroverts’ are commonly found where people need to work at higher pace and exert pressure on the others. They are dynamic, entrepreneurial, good at seizing opportunities, easily distracted and liable to rush off at tangents. They seem to enter an occupational advantage among sale managers, work managers and editors.

‘Stable introverts’ seem to do well in work where good relationships with small no of people need to be maintained over a period. They are strong in organization, plan well but slow moving and liable to neglect few factors in situations. They flourish as administrators, solicitors, local and central government officials and in the industry as corporate planners.

‘Anxious introverts ‘ distinguish themselves in jobs, which call for self-direction and self-sustaining persistence. They are capable of good idea but a tendency to be preoccupied. They lack cohesion as a team. They predominate among the research scientists. Some of the most creative people belong to this group.

Extroverted companies tend to work better than the introverted companies. Thus all four companies had merits that gave them advantages in particular situations. But at the same time they too have some or other weaknesses. Thus no team can be said as a perfect team which can be successful team every time.


Creative group needs to get adequate ideas but also contribution form every member. When everyone in a team thinks to be creative, it won’t help for the team. So one or two good feasible ideas are always encouraged from members. Sometimes two groups of members are assigned one for generating ideas and other for evaluating them. If individual gifted with truly innovative mind can be easily recognized, half the problem is solved. Only task remaining is to see whether the idea is feasible or not. Thus the main problem here is to identify the creative potential. The valuable tool for identifying a truly innovative mind is to use Catell formula for Creative Disposition (CD). This can give the best creative mind in a team, so we can begin a series of experiments about predictions about creative abilities of individuals with particular sets of scores on psychometric tests. The highest scores for Critical Thinking Appraisal (CIA) and Creative Disposition (CD) are the main functions. When the individuals just fall below the cutoff, they are termed as subplants and those who scores more are called superplants. Some people explored resources well so they are called as Resource Investigators (RI) and others as PL’s (plants). Thus any plant gets benefits from both types of the innovators. The PL would sit up in corner and will come up with some winning possibilities while RI ensures that there are no stones left. A good chairman can use both for advantage of company. Occasionally, the genius of PL and resourcefulness of RI in making most interpersonal opportunities are combined in one individual. RI is uninhibited about finding about what he wants to know by making good use of other people. He meets people, see around. Thus we come to the conclusion that sheer production of ideas is no measure of team’s creativity. Creativity is a one aspect, which needs to be covered well. The two types of people, plant and resource investigators who in different ways pass special skills in furnishing innovative elements that team require. Whether a team can take advantage of it or not depends on many factors, one of which is leadership.

Team leadership:

The quickest and surest way of changing the fortunes of a firm is to replace the man at the top. Mostly leaders are of two types. One, the leader is more popular, more acceptable to the group. The second and most important from the view of the management firm, is the leader who helps his firm to reach the predicted goals.

With the aid of the psychometric tests, three distinctive types of team leaders come forward. One is suited to a balanced team that, due to its team role distribution, possesses at a number of levels the potential for coping with complex multidimensional problems. The second type fits the team that has established capacity to do well but which faces the obstacles, which are either internal or external. Third type is good for ‘think tank’ type of a team. But what about leaders who cannot be equated to all the three types and where personal qualities and characteristics are altogether difficult. Some of them have long established and proven competence as team leaders or as chairman of committees. A person who has proved his worth in some part of the managerial orbit often endeavors to become effective in other words towards which he passes no natural aptitude. The very challenge motivates him to respond. A manager gifted with high intelligence and capacity for balanced judgment may be so shy that it is difficult to conceive of him discharging some of the responsibilities associated with high office. Yet he rises to occasion, but if he becomes overloaded with demands that pressurizes him then he begins to look for the new jobs in most of the cases.


So what should be the qualities that a team leader should possess? High mental ability is the most important for the team leader. He should have high level of reasoning ability. He should have a great sense of judgment. He should have positive creative mind. He should accept people without jealousy or suspicion. He should be committed to company’s final goal. He must possess good communication skills so as to influence the people in his team and he should have control over his subordinate. The subordinate should feel that the leader cares for them and they should respect him and trust him. A leader should shape a team in such a way that the performance of a team is improved. Thus a good leader is half battle won. But what should be the key roles of every member in a team?


‘Our tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way." Although the original research and most people's association with the Team Role model relates to teams there is strong evidence to support the view that these natural tendencies exist in workplace activities outside the formal team.

Eight types of people identified are useful to have in teams. They are as follows –

Company Worker (CW):
They are conservative, dutiful and predictable. They have great organizing ability, practical common sense, hardworking nature and self-discipline. They lack in feasibility and they are not very open to new ideas.

Chairman (CH) :
They are calm, self-confidant and controlled. They have a capacity to welcome all potential contributors on their merits and without prejudice. They have strong sense of objectives. But they are not more than ordinary in terms of intellect or creative ability.

Shaper (SH) :
They are highly strong, outgoing and dynamic. They drive and ready for any challenge. They are ready for complacency. But they are impatient and they get irritated fast.

Plant (PL) :
They are unorthodox and serious minded. They are genius, knowledge bound, imaginative people. They have high intellect. They are somewhat inclined to disregard practical details or protocols.

Resource Investigator (RI) :
They are extroverted, enthusiastic, curious and communicative. They have capacity for contacting people and exploring anything new. They have ability to respond to challenges. But they are liable to lose introvert once the initial fascination has passed.
Monitor evaluator (ME) :
They are sober, prudent and unemotional. They have good sense of judgment, discretion and hard headedness. They lack inspiration to the ability to motivate others.
Team Worker (TW) :
They are socially oriented, rather mild and sensitive. They have ability to respond to people and to situations and to promote team spirits. They are somewhat indecisiveness at moments of crisis.

Complete Fresher (CF) :
They are painstaking, anxious, and conscientious. They have capacity to follow through. They are perfectionists. They have tendency to worry about small things. They are reluctant.

These types would prove adequate to any challenges. Although they all are not necessarily required in every situations.

The value of particular team roles could be demonstrated by constructing teams that are deficient in some given team roles. Although those teams might succeed in capitalizing on their collective strength, any shortcomings in performance usually reflected any fault inherent in their team compositions. The useful people to have in team those who possess strengths or characteristics, which serve as, need without duplicating those already there. Teams are question of balance. What needed are not well-balanced individuals but individuals who can balance well with one another.

Unsuccessful Teams:

In a race one always win and one always lose. In the same way, some teams win and some don’t. Why these teams are unsuccessful? There are many reasons for it. Moral is the magical factor. Unsuccessful teams do not necessarily suffer from poor morale. Some teams with finishing abysmal results started out as happy teams. The relationship between morale and results seemed to be a tenuous one. Mental ability is a critical factor. Every manager team needs to have at least one person who is clever in analytical or creative sense. Unless there is someone effective in the sort of team role that a clever person carves out for himself, the team will be heading for the trouble. Personality is also a measure issue. Every team differs from one another in their cultural milieu. The variations in cultures give firms different personalities. Some teams are extroverts and other firms have introvert members. Culture is a moulding force creating a type of collective personality.

Composition of Unsuccessful Teams:

There are two types of unsuccessful teams. There are these which are products of culture so that the faults of the management team epitomizes the faults to which the team has been subjected. Second type of ineffective team has no deeply rooted causes but is linked with unfortunate combination of characters. This type occurs when obstacles present individuals finding their preferred team roles. Badly composed teams usually feature team role clashes, overlaps or voids. The design of team is poor.

Some members of a team are more like liabilities and assets. These members don’t fit well in any team.

Team can use their internal resources to good or poor effect. The more conscious they are of where their strengths and weaknesses lie, the easier it is to understand and to adjust the information. The lower this awareness, the greater the danger of making strategic mistakes that spring from self-delusion. The approach of the winning team is totally different from the losing time.

Winning Teams:

Various factors contribute to the winning teams. Such as

a) The person in chair

b) The existence of strong plant in group

c) A fair spread in mental abilities.

d) A spread in personal attributes offering wide team role coverage.

e) Good match between the attributes of members and their responsibilities in team.

f) An adjustment to the realization of imbalance.

Classic mixed teams i.e. teams having people from different cultures and backgrounds, not very highly rated but great for the group activities most consistently produce good result. But to put such a team together must be intricate operation, demanding high skills from selector. Any disturbance of team can easily upset the balance. This is why there is much to be said for forming a group whose members are less specialized and reasonably good mental ability, produce consistently good teams, covering themselves all the functions to be performed. Such teams have the advantage that their members can be combined and recombined in other teams without much loss of efficiency.

The superstar led team, where one highly talented or creative individuals dominates his colleagues and leads ‘from the front’, has limited scope in large enterprises. If authoritarianism is to survive then this is formula to give it life. Overdependence on a single individual is a prescription for everlasting uncertainty over what future offers. Winning companies vary in character of the teams that manage them. Yet after years of experiments in composing teams and encouraging others to try out their own designs and after much searching after successful examples in the industry world, it must be concluded that the choice in proper patterns remain strictly limited.

Features of Teamsmen:

Teamsmanship can be viewed as something that transcends fitness for any particular team role. Natural teamman is likely to be enrolled into a team, even with a minimum of credentials, because he is seen as someone who pulls his weight and does nothing to detract from contributing to others. The important features are as follows.

Contribution and Team role:

The contribution of every member in the team is very important. The members result to the success of the team. The individual skills of every person are much more important for the team. Each member has to know his role in the team. The role has to be defined properly and every member has to stick to that role. A good teamsman could adjust to a situation, which called for a team role he did not possess, and yet he could still maintain his personal effectiveness.


Outstanding teamman has an ability to time their interventions. They seem able to judge the moment that is ripe for their emergence in the particular team role in which they are able to contribute effectively.


The important characteristic of effective teamsman is the ability to switch flexibly between different team roles. Those who are capable of sudden switches need to signify their colleagues.


When the managers are playing one role then they need to decide which team roles they are not going to play. By limiting their own team roles ranges, they provide the opportunities for others to develop their own distinctive capabilities and in doing so the group is strengthened by sense of community and common purpose that is produced by interdependence of effort.

Maintaining team goals

A good teamsman should make others in appropriate team roles for which he prepares the ground by creating a void into which they can enter. Team success depends greatly on its members who set the goals and then follow them honestly. A self-motivated manager set up a role for others because it serves the wider purpose for the team in achieving their final goal.

The winning team’s success also depends upon the no of team members. The ideal team size is also one of the most important aspect of the team building. Lots of factors decide the no. Of members each team should have.

Ideal team size:

How many people should we have in the team to make it successful? To some extent, the answer must depend on the amount of the work that needs to be performed. Basically the teams are of two types.

· Bigger size

· Medium sized

· Small size

Bigger the groups, greater are the pressures. These pressures may become so cogent in mass meetings, congregations and assemblies that an appearance or illusion of unanimity is created.

Behaviour of the members of a team is also important criteria. The important point is to formalize the members of a team. The strength of a structure also depends on the cells, which make it up and on their arrangement.

The team of ten to eleven is large enough to give adequate variety in possible range of social permutations that can enrich life but small enough to allow syndicate to retail the sense of intimate group identity. A team of eight can reach it’s potential only if it is highly structured with a suitable person as a chairman and with it’s members appropriately selected and briefed so that eight team roles are covered by a person well fitted to perform each other.

The advantage of the smaller team seems to recede when a team of this size meets around table to thrash out the plans and policies with a view of making decisions. The small size group offers advantages for those periodic recreations, which served to cement the personal bond between the syndicate members. The smaller teams are generally required when the task ahead is smaller as compared to the most major and most important work.

If a team is too small, there exist dangers of not performing well. Three members of high ability and skills could become very effective if they act in unison. However the word team now becomes irrelevant. Here, decisions are linked with personalities and if one person is absent, business cannot continue without the risk of seriously changing the line that might otherwise have been taken care of.

From all matter, which is discussed, the ideal size of the team is a matter of compromise between the conflicting forces. On the other hand there is need to widen the composition, bringing in the full range of knowledge, experience and ability. The wishes of individuals or representatives to participate through consultation or the political desirability of securing commitment of all the departments are amongst the many pressures that operate to inflate the numbers. Yet on the other hand, there is the need to reduce the noise and maximize involvement and individual effectiveness by keeping the team small.

After deciding the no. Of the members of a team, the next important thing is to design a team. How to design a team which will give the maximum output.

Designing A Team:

A no. of factors needs to be considered for designing a team. They are as follows.

· Recruitment

· Internal reshuffling

· Danger of destroying partnership

· Sequence of selection

· Design

· Purpose

· Individual roles

· Team roles

Establishing a right climate in which well designed teams can form and flourish is the foundation stone on which more effective teamwork can be built in future. Only after that it becomes possible to explore the questions raised by people. The merits of each potential member can be raised in terms of what can he contribute and the role he is likely to play in that group.

Designing a team on a limited number of principles and concepts and involves various methods and techniques. But what turns teambuilding into an art is that the bricks, like legendary men, are made of different types of clay and not wholly predictable after firing.

Thus team management is a difficult thing to work out in practice but when all members irrespective of their mental ability, work to their best, taking into consideration the important basics of team management leads the team to success.

J Gosavi Research Output

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