Methodology: Belbin's conclusions were based initially on research in putting teams together for management exercises at Henley Management College in the 1970s and 1980s Teams were put together by the research team on the basis of a range of psychometric tests. These teams were then tested by their performance in business game simulations where success was measured in terms of the overall profit which the team generated in the course of the exercise. Having developed a theoretical model in the Henley test-bed, Belbin subsequently put his ideas in practice in a range of industries.
Team Roles: Belbin identifies key roles within teams. These are usefully summarised by Belbin in a very useful summary sheet, a full size version of which appears at the end of this blogpost and which can be downloaded from Belbin's website here.Summary of Conclusions
The contributing factors to Successful Teams were:
- The attributes of the person in the Chair;
- The Existence of a good 'Plant' (the creative, imaginative, free-thinking role);
- A spread in mental abilities;
- A spread in personal attributes laying the foundation for different Team Role capabilities;
- A distribution in the responsibilities of members to match their different capabilities;
- An adjustment to the realization of balance.
The contributing factors to Unsuccessful Teams were:
- Characterised by an over-emphasis on a particular ability or Team Role;
- Individuals took on a role that was not suited to their personalities;
- When key roles were required,but never filled.
The role of Intelligence: Interestingly teams with very high intelligence (Belbin calls these 'Apollo Teams') were very rarely successful - so you 'can beat bright'; conversely teams where there was no one with high intelligence were almost always doomed to failure.
Team Leadership: Characteristics
- The most effective team leaders were not the highest scorers in mental ability;
- The most effective team leaders followed the 'Co-ordinator' profile (see team role sheet below)
- 'Shapers' (a less calm, more driven Team Role profile) were successful at times;
- Different leadership attributes were required to lead an 'Apollo team' of experts.
Personality Attributes of the Successful Chairmen (p.49-50)
- A trusting nature;
- A strong basic dominance (that to some extent counter-balanced their accepting nature)
- A strong and morally based commitment to external goals and objectives;
- Calm and Unflappable in face of controversy
- Geared towards practical realism;
- Possessed of a basic self-discipline;
- Naturally enthusiastic;
- Prone to detachment and distance in social relations.
- The bigger the group, the greater the pressure to conformity;
- Teams of 6 are often optimum
"A team of six could offer a broad range of technical skills and Team Roles so that a company could achieve, if its composition was favourable, a high degree of balance." p.113