Improve team performance by simply knowing your role

teamwork?Nobody?s perfect, but a team can be :) ?. Because this is my favorite saying about teamwork and because this is perfectly true, I was thinking to provide it more attention.

Let?s take a quick view over the teamwork definition (provided by Wikipedia): ?Teamwork is a joint action by two or more people, in which each person contributes with different skills and express his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group in order to achieve common goals?.

The fact that every human being is unique is a well known fact. Every employee has its personality, has specific skills and has always something new to learn. Let?s face it: nobody?s perfect and nobody knows everything.

Considering this, we can now move one step further. In order to create the perfect team people with complementary skills must be brought together. For creating the perfect team every team member must know his/her role. Responsibilities of each member must be very clear in everyone?s mind because you can’t do your job well if you don’t know your own role and what other people do.

And when it comes to team roles, Dr Meredith Belbin is the name that comes in our mind. He is the British researcher that has studied team-work for many years and he observed that people in teams tend to assume different ?team roles?.

According to Belbin Team Role theory, by understanding your team role within a particular team, you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses as a team member, and so improve how you contribute to the team. This is how more balanced teams are created.

Belbin has identified 3 categories of team roles: Action Oriented, People Oriented and Thought Oriented. Each category contains three team roles, so that there are 9 team roles. Each team role is associated with typical behavioral and interpersonal strengths.

Here is a short overview of the nine roles of Belbin:

Category Team Role Characteristics
Shaper Challenges the team to improve.
Action Oriented Roles Implementer Puts ideas into action.
Completer Finisher Ensures thorough, timely completion.
Coordinator Acts as a chairperson.
People Oriented Roles Team Worker Encourages cooperation.
Resource Investigator Explores outside opportunities.
Plant Presents new ideas and approaches.
Thought Oriented Roles Monitor-Evaluator Analyzes the options.
Specialist Provides specialized skills.

According to Belbin?s study, the perfect team must have all these roles. Even if some of these roles are handled by the same person, it is very important to have them all. I highly recommend you to dedicate one hour to test your team and to discover everyone?s role. You will be amazed of the results (I?m telling you from my experience :) ).

Team work is definitely the key to success if every team member knows its role, and building effective team works is, or should be, the dream of every manager.

And remember: ?nobody?s perfect, but a team can be!?

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