Team work is one of the crucial skills employers recruit for as this skill indicates how smoothly and effectively a young person operates within a group.
Employers, however, also look for individuals who can bring different strengths to their teams. This because we all exhibit different team roles.
Through interactive workshops, to date I have worked with over 3,200 young people across the UK. That’s a lot of young people being asked to work as a part of the team to complete a range group exercises which require them to put together their resources to achieve a common goal.
I must admit that their fascinating interactions made me reflect upon the concept of teamwork many times. This is because young people demonstrate different team work abilities depending on the activity or group they are in!
This observation of mine is only an informal confirmation of the Belbin’s Team Role Theory rather than a new discovery but it is still amazing to watch it and use it in practice.
The secret of team effectiveness
Meredith Belbin – British researcher and management specialist – is famous for establishing that for team’s effectiveness
what is needed is not well balanced individuals, but individuals who balance well with each other.
In other words, the individual skill or excellence of each team member does not predict team results but rather their tendency to interrelate and fit together. This tendency is known as your team role.
Belbin distinguished 9 team roles that fall into 3 categories:
- Proffered roles – the most natural ones and the easiest to demonstrate
- Manageable roles – not as easy but we can take them if needed
- Least preferred roles – those areas that we really struggle with – we don’t enjoy doing it.
What is your team role?
What is really fascinating and you can see live when working with young people, is that:
- A young person might be more than one role type
- A young person might assume different roles in different groups
- A young person can take a role, even they are not familiar with it, if the group needs it.
Have a look at the 9 team roles – can you spot them within your classroom or workplace?
The name is…
|They are described like…||
We hear them say…
|Shaper||A dynamic team-member who loves a challenge and thrives on pressure.
|Just do it!
I may be blunt, but at least I am to the point.
|Co-ordinator||Ensures that all members of the team are able to contribute to discussions and decisions of the team.||Let’s keep the main objective in sight.
Has anyone else got anything to add to this?
|Plant||A creative team-member who solves difficult problems.
|Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution.
Good ideas always seem strange at first
|Resource Investigator||The networker for the group.
|Never reinvent the wheel. Opportunities arise from other people’s mistakes.
|Monitor-Evaluator||A sober, strategic and discerning member, who tries to see all options and judge accurately.
|Let’s weigh up the alternatives.
I’ll think it over and give you a firm decision tomorrow.
|Implementer||The practical thinker who can create systems and processes that will produce what the team wants.
|If it can be done, we will do it.
Hard work never killed anybody.
|Completer Finisher||The detail person within the team. They have a great eye for spotting flaws and gaps and for knowing exactly where the team is in relation to its schedule.
|The small print is always worth reading.
Murphy’s Law ‘If that can go wrong will go wrong’
There is no excuse for not being perfect.
|Team Worker||Concerned to ensure that interpersonal relationships within the team are maintained.
|I was very interested in your point of view.
You can always sense a good atmosphere at work.
Everybody has a good side worth appealing to.
What is your potential?
Of course none of the described team roles are ideal. Each team role has certain strengths as well as areas of improvement. This is why only a balanced combination of all team roles brings the best results.
Have a look at the potential of each team role:
|The name is…||Strength||Weakness|
|Shaper||Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure.
The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.
Seeks patterns in group work; pushes group toward agreement and decisions; challenges others
|Prone to provocation.
Offends people’s feelings
|Co-ordinator||Mature, confident, a good chairperson.
Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.
|Can often be seen as manipulative.
Off loads personal work.
|Plant||Creative, imaginative, unorthodox.
Solves difficult problems
|Too pre-occupied to communicate effectively
|Resource Investigator||Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative.
Explores opportunities. Develops contacts.
Shares external information
Negotiates with outsiders
|Over – optimistic.
Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
|Monitor-Evaluator||Sober, strategic and discerning.
Sees all options.
Analyzes problems and complex issues
Monitors progress and prevents mistakes
|Lacks drive and ability to inspire others.
|Implementer||Disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient.
Turns ideas into practical actions
Slow to respond to new possibilities.
Searches out errors and omissions.
Delivers on time.
|Inclined to worry unduly.
Reluctant to delegate.
|Team Worker||Co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic.
Listens, builds, averts friction.
Gives personal support and help to others
Resolves conflicts; calms the waters; serves as an in-group diplomat
|Indecisive in crunch situations.
What’s in for me?
From my experience, being aware of different team roles is very beneficial when working with young people. It allows you smoothly and effectively to:
- Manage the group dynamics within the classroom
- Provide teams with tasks that play to their strengths
- Provide teams with tasks to challenge their weaknesses
- Understand and manage the group conflicts
- Build teams on the basis of team roles ensuring high effectiveness of completing projects and assignments
- Prepare young people to perform effectively during group interviews and assessment days