Team Building:What Did Dr Belbin Mean?

Posted: Nov 10 2014

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If you are familiar with the Team Challenge Company blog, or the concept of team development in general, you are likely to have heard of a man called Dr Belbin and his theory on the roles within a team. Well, here at Team Challenge Company, we like to incorporate Belbin's work into our team building days and team development events. 

This is because they are a valuable tool when it comes to understanding your team, your company and the individuals within. As much as we can explain the theory and its benefits to you though, no one can say it better than the man himself. So read on to see what Belbin said about his method, and what he meant when he said it.    

Do you want a collection of brilliant minds, or a brilliant collection of minds?

This quote is a fantastic conundrum that many companies ought to seriously consider, but don't. When a company or department is at recruitment stage it is on the hunt for the brightest, best and most brilliant. Now, it doesn't matter whether the company in question is looking for the most analytical, scientifically or technologically astute individual, or if they are after the most astoundingly creative people out there; they want the best. In most cases though, the recruitment process focuses on finding individually brilliant minds, so that you end up with an entire department of people who are the best in their fields.This is fine in theory, but when it comes to the daily grind, you will struggle if you have lots of brilliant people who cannot work together well. It is far better to find a cohesive team that works well together, communicates, collaborates and proves itself to be a brilliant collection of individual strengths and personalities than it is to have a team of brilliant minds that don't gel. Dr Belbin's model of team roles expands on this, helping companies to identify the roles and personalities within a team so that they can work out the best way for the team to work as a unit. So when you are recruiting or reviewing your team of brilliant people, think to yourself:

This is fine in theory, but when it comes to the daily grind, you will struggle if you have lots of brilliant people who cannot work together well. It is far better to find a cohesive team that works well together, communicates, collaborates and proves itself to be a brilliant collection of individual strengths and personalities than it is to have a team of brilliant minds that don't gel. Dr Belbin's model of team roles expands on this, helping companies to identify the roles and personalities within a team so that they can work out the best way for the team to work as a unit. So when you are recruiting or reviewing your team of brilliant people, think to yourself: Do you want a collection of brilliant minds, or a brilliant collection of minds?

A team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a congregation of individuals, each of whom has a role that is understood by other members.

Teamwork is about so much more than sitting a group of people together in a room, assigning tasks to them and hoping for the best. It is about recognising the individuals in that team - their strengths, weaknesses, preferences - and understanding how all those individuals can work optimally together. This is where the idea of Belbin's team roles comes in. Belbin defined the roles within a team by looking not only at the personalities, but also the means by which they function in work and social environments. By understanding the dominant behaviours of an individual, you can assign the appropriate tasks and job roles to them, so that what they do within the team coincides with their strengths and skillset. 

Similarly, by looking at Belbin's model and understanding how the different roles work together (and which ones don't) you can ensure proper communication and collaboration within a team. This role definition also helps the members of a team to understand and respect one another on a deeper level. Dr Belbin himself summarised why his team roles are good for team development, saying: ‘The benefit of utilising and understanding Team Roles is that not only do we learn more about ourselves, but also a lot about our work colleagues and how to get the best out of them.'

This article is just a quick look at some of the quotes Belbin is famous for, and what he meant by them. Ultimately, his model revolutionised the way we think about teams and individuals in the workplace. That is why it is still so respected, and that is why we use it as a foundation for our team building days and team development events. So why not get in touch with the team here at Team Challenge Company and discover more about Belbin's roles in relation to your team?

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