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How to Build Successful Teams the Belbin Way

Putting an effective team together takes a certain level of finesse. To this effect Dr. Belbin, a renowned psychologist suggests a criterion instrumental in creating teams that guarantee the best results possible. In order to go into the attributes of a successful team, it is important to understand what a team is. Dr. Belbin (2010) describes a team as constituting various individuals. Each of these people has a unique role to play within the team while working with the rest towards achieving a common goal. In order to elaborate this further, Belbin talks about nine different team roles that have to exist to have a successful team. Each of these team roles bring an inimitable touch to the group and specializes in performing a task specific to the roles for which they exist. This essay examines the nine team-roles highlighted by Belbin and the different elements covered by each team role.

Belbin (2010) identifies four elements that are vital to the smooth functioning of a team. The first is good leadership. Secondly is the generation of new ideas, important for the continuity of the team tasks. For this element, Dr. Belbin (2010) names three team roles best at it. They include the plant, specialist, and monitor evaluator. As the plant generates new and creative proposals, the monitor evaluator engages in the analysis of the options presented. The specialist, when required to, provides much needed rare skills in their field of specialization. Other elements that Belbin discusses are social skills. There are team roles whose strengths lie in interacting with other entities, both within and outside the group. These are the coordinator, team worker and the resource investigator. While the coordinator’s role is to delegate tasks to the team members, the team worker encourages cohesion in the group and the resource investigator explores opportunities to create contacts from outside the group. Lastly is the aspect of activity. For implementation of thoughts and ideas, the team roles of shaper, implementer, and completer finisher are best. It is the shaper’s duty to challenge better performance by the team and hence motivate the team to overcome any impediments. The implementer transforms the ideas presented into actions while the completer finisher perfects the tasks completed. The four elements important to a team are, therefore, leadership, generating ideas, social skills, and activity (Belbin 2010).

It is important to approach the leadership element with caution. This is because, for the team to succeed it requires a great leader. One of the qualities that Belbin suggests every leader should have includes having skills pertinent to the task. In addition, the leaders should have exemplary communication skills and be a risk taker. Team leaders, in addition to these qualifications, should be able to inspire success in their team members and maintain the team spirit. Many times, the consensus is that leaders should have the ability to do everything. However, a good leader is one who can delegate tasks in order to raise efficiency. A good leader also upholds the clarity of the visions and goals of the team, while at the same time having a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each of the team members. An exemplary leader sets goals, points out mistakes, improves on performance, inspires team spirit and dominates.

New ideas are important for any team. A lack in them is an indicator of stagnation and redundancy in carrying out tasks, something that all teams that hope to be successful should avoid. In addition, always executing the same tasks using the same old means could potentially lead to fatigue and loss of morale among team members. Generating ideas is a task in which the entire team should be involved. An example of idea generation is brain storming as a group. During brain storming, team members should get a fair chance in voicing their opinions. For a productive brainstorming session, it is best if members give their ideas individually and not thinking as a group. Very importantly, the leader should refrain from dominating these sessions.

Other important aspects leading to the success of any team are social skills and activity. On social skills, it is mandatory that the team members relate to each other well, and at the same time, the team as a whole should find ways to relate to external contacts in the right way. Without cohesion among the team members, there is no synchrony in their tasks and ideas. This can be counterproductive to the team and hinder any meaningful output.

Teams exist to conduct activities towards a common goal. Therefore, the success of the team depends on the success of activities carried out. The more activities the team engages in, the greater cohesion experienced. Because of this, team-building exercises are an important activity for the group. These activities aid the team members in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of other members within the group.

Successful teams comprise both extrovert and introvert roles. Extrovert roles are especially required when it comes to enhancing social skills. The shaper and resource investigator roles, for example, require that they be outgoing personalities with a knack for motivating and drawing in people. On the other hand, team roles such as the completer finisher and implementer require team members that are more focused and in the present. The roles require thinkers. This makes them introvert roles.

A variety of personalities makes up a team, and it is in this fact that the team derives its success. Belbin (2010), in his team role theory, covers all the functions of the various team roles, each of which is important for progress in the team. Without the shaper, for example, it is easy for the team to lose perspective and back out of a task as soon as they meet an obstacle. Belbin’s is an effective way to build a team. It is true to say that attempting to build a team by ignoring any of the elements and team roles may produce an effective team. However, for the best results, it is mandatory that the team is comprised of all the team roles.

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