Team dynamics helps you play team roles to your advantage. By team roles, we mean Belbin’s team roles. To be sure, they are based on decades of observation. Teams observed over long periods of time in order to determine how teams work. Without a doubt, there is value in decades of insight. In light of so much research, team roles work to explain how teams work together. Being that, they provide a perspective in how to build teams. Furthermore, they can explain why things go bad with teams.
Each of us has a set of favorite roles. What’s more, we can shift from one role to another. Owing to our unique makeup and personality. Hence, getting a balanced team together is tricky. At the same time, it is easier than you’d expect. We’ve explored the general theories in the first part of this team dynamics series.
In this article, we will explore team roles and how to use them to better your team. We will go into greater detail on alternative models in the next article.
At first, we need to cover the three main role orientation. Specifically, action, people and thinking. They are equally important categories. Each of these categories asserts dominance with three different sub-types. Bear in mind that team dynamics are important.
Action-oriented roles (AOR)
This category contains action-oriented roles. These are the people that are driven by action. They are the doers.
Ultimately, their essential characteristic is that they focus on actions. This does not mean that AOR are not people oriented. It just means that they prefer roles that require action.
Shapers are self-starters, highly energetic people. They typically are very determined, and goal-oriented. They’re often more sensitive to goal contagion. Furthermore, shapers tend to communicate in an assertive, competitive and rather direct way.
While generally good communicators, they can become aggressive or argumentative. That’s because the SH role is results-oriented and decisive. And sometimes that can damage communications. How? Being focused on results makes then not pay enough attention to relations. Hence, on an interpersonal level, they might not be sensitive enough.
Overall, however, they make for ideal managers. They often seem to thrive under pressure. And their special talent is to boost progress and energize team activities.
Implementers are practical. They are equally disciplined and hardworking. Great at following best practices, they are compliant. At the same time, they are relentless at doing what needs to be done.
Owing to these traits, they most often work on what is feasible and relevant. Subsequently, people consider IMPs highly reliable. In Game of Thrones, they even named the IMP as hand of the queen. Just kidding.
They’re the ones often praised as passionate. Implementers can also be the ones to ignore people while focusing on work. When interrupted, implementers suffer deeply. With attention to team cooperation, implementers tend to stay away from the abstract.
Completer-Finisher types are super-focused on details. To clarify, this is extreme. They have an OCD-like fixation to correct errors.
What’s more, they’re somewhat introverted. To this end, they find it easy to function in isolation. This does not mean, however, that they dislike people. On condition that they’re not affected by anxiety, CF types can even enjoy the company of others. One thing you need to do is empower introverts that are CF types.
But they are quick to resent meetings. Provided that they don’t get in the way of deadlines. CF types are amazing with deadlines. They submit work without delay. And their work is of very good quality. An eye for detail is something very useful on any team.
People-oriented roles (POR)
These are people-focused roles. Their specialty in team dynamics is understanding how people function. They’re the glue that holds the team together.
The CO is best suited to aid others in working towards shared goals. While others under-delegate, the CO over-delegates. Specifically, they’re the ultimate team coordinator.
Together with their eye for talent, they make a good tactical leader. They can spot individual talents and orient them towards group objectives. On the negative side, CO types cannot do proper onboarding.
However, COs can be manipulative at times. Their leadership style is not natural. Rather, it is control, not leadership. They can do wonders with a team, except inspiring it.
The teamworker is the core of a team. They’re supportive, sociable and friendly. They’re good listeners and, to this end, great with sharing goals.
They are very flexible in social contexts. For one thing, they act as liaison to anyone on the team. Secondly, they are perceptive and caring. They know when to listen.
However, often they’re most interested in creating harmony. They’d rather stand with someone who’s wrong than stand up for themselves when right.
Teamworkers find it easy to adapt to a diverse culture. Yet they will not thrive in a coworking space. To emphasize, teamworkers need the team.
Resource-Investigators are amazing at business development. Coupled with being great communicators, they are outstanding extroverts.
RIs are the perfect router for ideas. They’re great negotiators and very capable networkers. Simply put, there’s no one else as good at networking.
They are great with exploring and reporting. And are their special talent or skills is promoting. Be that as it may, they always feel a bit outside of the team. They’re one foot in the other lane. And that can feel odd at times. So it’s important to explain the role to the team.
Thinking-oriented roles (TOR)
Innovators, inventors, creatives, generally radical thinkers typically are plants. They provide original ideas coupled with clever solutions. In fact, a lot of company founders are PL.
On the off side, they’re typically introverted, and very sensitive to criticism and praise. Plants are not persuasive communicators. Rather, they’re bad at communicating ideas. Moreover, they’re bad at keeping practical matters in mind. Costs are rarely on the mind of PL.
They’re a great addition to a start-up. Why? Because of their specialty in team dynamics. That’s a challenging conventional way of doing things.
But PL are also great at solving lack of progress. Even for established companies, plants can figure out a way to move ahead. They are passionate about solving complex problems. And that’s what makes them an amazing team asset. You just need to know how to harmonize introverts.
Serious and prudent, the ME type is great at strategy. Their most appreciated input is critical thinking. Oftentimes, they focus on the bigger picture.
The ME type is very logical, and makes for a great analyst. Data is what the ME loves. As a leader, the ME makes very smart decisions, albeit very prudent. They’re not field leaders, but rather strategists.
They take their time in making decisions, and this can oftentimes leave the team hanging. Hence, the ME is not as great in a tactical role as in a strategy role. But for team dynamics, a strategist is always useful.
The SP type can be an outsider. By virtue of being an expert. Think of them as a team member who has their own lab. Someone who loves to learn new things and explain them to the team.
The Specialist is great at commanding respect when in a leadership position. Especially when leading a like-minded team. Naturally, the SP won’t always lead a team of researchers. Even though they are always in the pursuit of acquiring new knowledge. They make great technical mentors.
The Specialist tends to be a bit of an outsider. Oftentimes an expert in at least one area, the SP is not a natural team player. They are quick to grasp new concepts and their applications. This makes them lose patience when everybody else on the team falls behind. One of the things they most dislike is attending unstructured meetings.
Overall, these types interact in a number of ways. Stay tuned for the next part of this series to find out more.