Team Building in Business

The difference between a business running with excellent team-working and one where the sound of clashing personalities is deafening can be like an engine running with or without oil.  Team building in business is so easy to do and so easy to neglect, you'll be stunned by the difference it makes.

We rarely have an opportunity to build a team from scratch.  If we could we would select the team members really carefully and scientifically to ensure that we end up with a good mix of leaders, organizers, doers, thinkers, checkers and socializers who understand one another's strengths and weaknesses and who compensate for each other every step of the way.  But for most of us this is a pipe dream; we already have teams who have worked together, sometimes for decades, and who probably have a love-hate relationship with each other taking delight in watching each other fail.

All is not lost.  Dr Meredith Belbin, an English industrial psychologist has dedicated his career to the study of team relationships and he has discovered that teams can be turned around with some fairly straightforward analysis and redirection.  His research has established that teams need a certain framework to allow them to operate really efficiently and each team member should understand the Team Role that is expected of them.

A team Role is, in essence, the way someone does their job which overlays the actual job content itself.  Belbin has defined nine Team Roles each of which contains a cluster of successful behaviors that allows smooth team working. The make-up of a useful and well-coordinated team should include action oriented roles, people oriented roles and cerebral roles.  The action oriented roles ensure that the required work is started, actually gets done and is checked for conformance.  The people oriented roles ensure that the team is synchronized, emotionally stable and has exciting opportunities.  The cerebral roles solve problems, offer a reality check and provide expert guidance.

Although some people may have a predisposition for one specific role, most of us display a mixture of team types and have stronger and weaker preferences to play a particular role.  Belbin discovered that low performing teams were frequently made up from team type clones and required the injection of new ideas that a creative, problem-solving mind could offer.  He named this team type a plant simply because he could drop this type of person in amongst the existing team and positive results would start to grow.

The very act of taking your team through the Belbin Team Type questionnaire is sometimes enough to start the debate about how the team might operate differently.  It can reveal many reasons why people harmonize or clash in the team and, importantly, it will identify secondary team roles that team members might be better utilizing.  For some people, this type of language switches on a light and allows them to understand why others work in the way that they do.  Certain behaviors cease to be annoying because they are demonstrated to be useful and constructive.  Missing Team Roles can be highlighted and the resulting development opportunities will motivate team members to improve their game.

Team-building does not need to be an outdoors endurance test.  Using the Belbin team working framework may be the most useful hour you ever spent with your people.


Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.