Belbin Team Roles

Jackie Bullivant, director of Kent based training organisation Platform 4 Training is one of the UK’s leading specialist in delivering high standard train the trainer courses. Having years’ worth of experience providing this service, Jackie knows what skills are necessary in becoming a trainer in the workplace. She has also gained accreditation in Belbin Team Role methodology. But what is it, and how does it work?

belbinLook at any recruitment advertisement and you will notice that the advertiser is more than likely looking to attract people with, among other attributes, ‘the ability to work well within a team’. There is no doubt that team-working skills are paramount in today’s workplace. But how do you set about ensuring that the team you put together will work well together?


It is difficult to work effectively with people without some reasonable expectations of how they are going to perform, and this why Platform 4 Training has specially made bespoke training services for all industries. But how can you find out?

Many managers will be familiar with Meredith Belbin and the work he has done. Dr Belbin and his researchers at Henley Management College studied the behaviour of managers from all over the world over a period of nine years.

During the research their core personality traits, intellectual styles and behaviours were assessed and, as time progressed, different clusters of behaviours were identified as underlying the success of teams. These nine clusters were given names.

The Nine Team Member Types

You may have sat in management seminars where these roles have been explained. Remember, that along with providing a clear insight into the various strengths a person will bring to the team, Belbin importantly reveals the flip side of the coin by explaining their ‘allowable weaknesses’. Only when we appreciate the full picture for each individual team member, can the team foster mutual trust and understanding between members.

Briefly, they are:

  • Implementer – these people are disciplined, organised, efficient and able to turn ideas into actions. But they can lack flexibility and can be slow to respond to new possibilities.
  • Co-ordinator – these are mature, calm and self-confident, promoting participative decision making. They will cause others to work towards shared goals. They may not, however, be the cleverest members of a team.
  • Shaper – these are challenging, dynamic and highly motivated. They possess drive and courage but can be prone to provocation and impatience.
  • Plant – these are creative and imaginative and able to solve difficult problems. They prefer to work in an unorthodox way, but they can be ‘up in the clouds’ and impractical.
  • Resource investigator – these extroverted, enthusiastic, curious people respond well to challenge and enjoy exploring opportunities. They are, however, prone to losing interest unless stimulated by others.
  • Monitor evaluator – logical, analytical and accurate people who display sound judgement and discretion, but who lack the ability to motivate others.
  • Team worker – sensitive and socially orientated, these people promote team spirit but can be indecisive at moments of crisis.
  • Completer-Finisher – accurate and conscientious, with a great capacity for follow through and attention to detail. These perfectionists have a tendency to worry too much.
  • Specialists – are dedicated individuals who pride themselves on acquiring technical skills and specialised knowledge. They are single-minded and have great pride in their own subject whilst lacking interest in other people’s. They will only contribute on a narrow front and tend to dwell on technicalities.

Working together

These are necessarily brief descriptions but even so demonstrate why teams need to have a selection of these roles to be effective. Too many of one sort can easily be detrimental to the good functioning of the team and organisation productivity.

Belbin has proven that each team member has two preferred team roles which they adopt given the opportunity. So, for instance, in a team of six, you could have all nine roles present and with some overlap. Alternatively, if some of the team members had the same preferred roles, you could conclude that the overall roles are much more limited. If the team lacks an ideas person ie the Plant, or an analytical mind such as the Monitor Evaluator this could have an adverse effect on the team.

How we can help?

New Teams: Jackie can work closely with organisations seeking to create new teams by helping them during the team selection process to match the right people to the right jobs.

Existing teams: when the Belbin Team Role methodology is applied, it measures the behaviour tendencies of team members and how they contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way. Once members discover their team roles, they will also identify their least preferred, manageable and preferred roles. They are encouraged to avoid using their least preferred roles for prolonged periods, be prepared to adopt their manageable roles if required but to certainly develop and perfect their preferred roles and make the most of these natural roles in planning their career development.

Using Belbin team roles will enable team members to:

  • Understand your own identity in terms of team roles
  • Manage your strengths and weaknesses
  • Learn how to develop your team roles
  • Project yourself in the best possible way
  • Work more effectively in teams