Even within organizations, teams function differently. No one team will have the same processes, procedures or even code of conduct.

Similarly, within teams, each member performs a unique, predefined role. Individual roles and contributions combine to lead teams to success. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, leading to conflict, failure to meet deadlines or a breakdown of the entire system.

English researcher, Meredith Belbin, founded the Meredith Belbin theory stating that if each member of a team understands their role within the team’s ecosystem, it’s easier to identify your strengths, weaknesses and abilities and improve.


The Meredith Belbin team roles define nine work styles that may apply to one or many team members. Learn more about Belbin’s team roles in the following sections.


  1. What Is Belbin’s Team Role Theory?

  2. Meredith Belbin’s Team Roles

  3. Managing Teams The Right Way


What Is Belbin’s Team Role Theory?


“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.” That is the premise on which Meredith Belbin’s team roles theory is built.

Individual contribution is what makes an effective team. Understanding each role and what it brings to the table helps managers and leaders make sense of their team structure. Once you identify where you stand in the grand scheme of things, you’ll get clarity on what you need to do.

 The Belbin theory defines team roles including: teamworker, coordinator, plant, specialist and complete finisher. Read on to learn more about Belbin’s team roles.


Meredith Belbin’s Team Roles


Built on Belbin’s team roles theory, the nine roles explains behaviors, skills and weaknesses across roles. Some members of your team may be inquisitive or proactive while others showcase leadership qualities. There are members who possess in-depth knowledge of important subjects and bring specialist skills to the team. Managers and leaders need to be mindful of what each team member’s skills and abilities are. This will help them maximize their skills for business success.


Here are Belbin’s team roles:


1. Resource Investigator

Each team has someone who’s the ‘idea head’. They bring fresh and new ideas to the group, perfect for a brainstorming session. These ideas help set the pace for projects or new undertakings. But while they may be brimming with ideas, they may lack the ability to follow through.


2. Teamworker

The glue that binds the entire team together, the ‘teamworker’ is the go-to person to resolve conflicts. They’re willing to solve other members’ problems to make sure the work gets done. But they also don’t like to be in anyone’s bad books, thus accepting every idea or suggestion.


3. Coordinator

The Belbin theory suggests the third team role—the coordinator. The coordinator is mindful of the overarching team goal, herding everyone in the right direction and coordinating, delegating and assigning work. But it may turn out that they delegate so much that they don’t have anything left to do.


4. Plant

Another one of Belbin’s team roles is the plant. This is someone who’s likely to come up with the best ways to solve complex problems. They’re creative, imaginative and unconventional with solutions. But this also might make them scatter-brained, overlooking the finer details.


5. Monitor Evaluator

The strategist on your team could be a monitor evaluator. Belbin’s team roles define a strategist as someone who possesses a discerning eye. They make judgments after careful consideration. There’s no bias, only logical explanations. But this means they might take forever to reach a decision.


6. Specialist

Every team needs a specialist who knows about significant aspects of the business. Having specialist knowledge of a key area helps teams succeed by coming up with creative ideas, armed with information. But they may know too much, suppressing others with their knowhow.


7. Shaper

The motivator in the team, the shaper helps hype everyone up to keep them going. When there are high-pressure deadlines, the shaper is who you need to keep everyone on their toes—in a positive way. But sometimes they may push a little too hard.


8. Implementer

Belbin’s team roles include the implementer, who’s the planner in the team. They strategize and plan what needs to be done and how. They’re efficient and organized, expecting things to be a certain way. But this could mean they’re inflexible when it comes to accommodating different work styles.


9. Completer Finisher

The proofreader of the team, the complete finisher is the one who makes sure the deliverables are in good shape. They’re perfect for quality control, picking out the minute errors to deliver only the best work. But they may be prone to perfectionism, hampering everyone else’s progress.


Meredith Belbin’s team role theory defines these nine roles as all-encompassing within a team. That doesn’t mean you need nine people on a team. You may see one person display more than one of these roles. A good balance and a recognition of individual strengths is what you need for team success.


Managing Teams The Right Way


Harappa’s Managing Teamwork course will teach you how to form effective teams. From team formation to development, learn how you can navigate the challenges of team building and teamwork. Recognize where you stand in the context of the Belbin theory with tools like the Social Styles Model. Enroll today to become a promising member of your team! 

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, Different Types Of Teams, Building High-Performing Teams and How To Improve Team Communication to become a well-rounded professional.

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