Belbin Team Roles are used to identify people’s behavioural strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. This information can be used to:

  • Build productive working relationships
  • Select and develop high-performing teams
  • Raise self-awareness and personal effectiveness
  • Build mutual trust and understanding
  • Aid recruitment processes

A team should be put together for a specific purpose. Each team member should be chosen to ensure that the correct balance of skill and behaviour is achieved.

This doesn’t mean that you need nine individuals, each with one strong Team Role in each team. Each of us can play two or three Team Roles well, and should learn to adapt our behaviour to the needs of the of team’s objective.




Belbin Team Roles measure behaviour, not personality, and so can be defined as:

A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.

Dr. Meredith Belbin

The Team Roles that Meredith Belbin identified are used widely in thousands of organisations all over the world today. By identifying our Team Roles, we can ensure that we use our strengths to advantage and that wemanage our weaknesses as best we can. Sometimes, this means being aware of the pitfalls and making an effort to avoid them.


The NINE Belbin Team Roles

Team Role Contribution Allowable Weaknesses
Plant BELBINUK---PL-Icon-masked Creative, imaginative, free-thinking. Generates ideas and solves difficult problems. Ignores incidentals. Too preoccupied to communicate effectively.
Resource Investigator BELBINUK---RI-Icon-masked Outgoing, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities and develops contacts. Over-optimistic. Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.
Co-ordinator BELBINUK---CO-Icon-masked Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals. Delegates effectively. Can be seen as manipulative. Offloads own share of the work.
Shaper BELBINUK---SH-Icon-masked Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles. Prone to provocation. Offends peoples feelings.
Monitor Evaluator BELBINUK---ME-Icon-masked Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately. Lacks drive and ability to inspire others. Can be overly critical.
Teamworker BELBINUK---TW-Icon-masked Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction. Indecisive in crunch situations. Avoids confrontation.
Implementer BELBINUK---IMP-Icon-masked Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done. Somewhat inflexible. Slow to respond to new possibilities.
Completer Finisher BELBINUK---CF-Icon-masked Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects. Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delegate.
Specialist BELBINUK---SP-Icon-masked Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated. Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply. Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities.

BALANCE is key

During his research, Meredith found that each of the behaviours were essential in getting the team successfully from start to finish. The key was balance. For example, Meredith Belbin found that a team with no Plants struggled to come up with the initial spark of an idea with which to push forward. However, once too many Plants were in the team, bad ideas concealed good ones and non-starters were given too much airtime. Similarly, with no Shaper, the team ambled along without drive and direction, missing deadlines. With too many Shapers, in-fighting began and morale was lowered.



Strengths and ALLOWABLE weaknesses

As well as the strength or contribution they provide, each Team Role also has an associated allowable weakness: a flipside of the behavioural characteristics, which is allowable in the team because of the strength which goes with it.

For example:

  • Plants could be unorthodox or forgetful
  • Resource Investigators might forget to follow up on a lead
  • Monitor Evaluators could be overly critical and slow moving
  • Co-ordinators might over delegate leaving themselves little work to do
  • Implementers might be slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes
  • Completer Finishers could be accused of taking their perfectionism to the extremes
  • Teamworkers might become indecisive when unpopular decisions need to be made
  • Shapers could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done
  • Specialist may have a tendency to focus narrowly on their own subject of choice

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