The Team Roles Model According to Dr. Meredith Belbin

Term Paper, 2013

19 Pages, Grade: 1,7



1 Introduction

2 The Belbin method
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Applying Belbin Team Roles
2.3 Shortcomings

3 Team roles
3.1 The completer / finisher
3.2 The Implementer
3.3 The Monitor/Evaluator
3.4 The specialist
3.5 The coordinator
3.6 Teamworker
3.7 Resource Investigator
3.8 The shaper
3.9 The plant

4 Limits of the team role model in practice

5 Alternative role models
5.1 Schindler’s rank dynamics model
5.2 The Team Management System (TMS)

6 Purpose and goal of the team role construction (Belbin)

7 Conclusion


1 Introduction

Teamwork is often conceived as difficult and exhausting. A team is composed of a number of personalities with similar or different interests. Teamwork often reaches dissolution once it faces issues. But which are the reasons that make teamwork successful? Are there certain things that must be paid attention to during the formation of a team? These questions, as well as others, are going to be answered in this paper. In the following chapters, Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin’s team role model is presented and subsequently compared to two other models. From these models, various problem-solving approaches regarding how a team can be optimally formed emerge.

2 The Belbin method

2.1 Introduction

Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin has developed a team role method that assesses the typical behavior of team members. In his book „Management Teams“, released in 1981, he came up with the team role method, also known as the Belbin Team Inventory. The model depicts the behavior of team members in relationship to one another. Persons are defined and evaluated according to nine different traits, based on which the actual team is formed.

Dr. Raymond Meredith was born in 1926 and received his university degree at Cambridge. After earning the PhD title, he worked as a research fellow at Cranfield College. Early on he started carrying out research where he would focus on observing the older colleagues in the industry. After his return to Cambridge he joined the industrial Training Research Unit. He derived the foundations for his book „Managements Teams“ from the research carried out at the (then called) Administrative Staff College at Henley-on-Thames.1 Using empirical study, he carried out research regarding leaders in team collaborations. In doing so he analyzed the composition of teams in relation to their effectivity in fulfilling assigned tasks and asserted that there are different roles that are occupied in typical teams. Concerning this matter, he noted different behavior patterns of team members2. Consequently, he extracted nine team roles out of the different behavior types.3 The roles can be divided in three categories:

- three action oriented roles: the shaper, the implementer and the completer
- three communication oriented roles: the coordinator, the teamworker and the resource investigator
- three knowledge oriented roles: the plant, the monitor/evaluator and the specialist.

His research yielded the following conclusion: when all roles are occupied adequately, the activity of the team is optimal.

2.2 Applying Belbin Team Roles

In a team that aims to be high-output resp. efficient and effective the members must be geared optimally to each other. Using the Belbin method it can be ensured more easily that each necessary role is actually occupied by someone. At the same time, certain activities of a team member are assigned and evaluated logically. By assigning roles to the team members, they are motivated to perform the activity that they enjoy the most. This has positive effects on team activity and typically enhances it. Consequently, a further advantage appears: the balanced team requires less attention from the management, being less susceptible to risks.

2.3 Shortcomings

It is important to be aware that Belbin roles express only the tasks and functions in a team and their function in self-management and that they are not personality types or preferences. There are indeed tests by which one can analyze and identify his/her ideal team role. Nevertheless, everyone can assume another role once in a while, and team activities can change during the course of a project. Team members often have qualities suited for multiple roles, with one being particularly pronounced. Since the borders are fluid, this can reach the point where in an actual team the completer/finisher or the plant might be sought specifically. A team is strong when the different roles are represented, although not every role is equally instrumental to the team in obtaining good results. There are roles that must be unconditionally present in a good team, as well as roles that are more dedicated to „fine-tuning“, which the Belbin model does not expose. Moreover, no hierarchical relations between persons are taken into consideration, leaving it up to the user of the model to decide on that matter.

3 Team roles

3.1 The completer / finisher

Socio-emotional role of the completer/finisher:

The completer/finisher is a person that carries out tasks in a knowledgeable, orderly and careful manner, fearing the possibility of finishing something imperfectly.

Functional role of the completer/finisher:

Through the self-established high standards, a completer/finisher is vital in tasks that require a high amount of precision and concentration. He/she ensures a feeling of immediacy in all things, and the adherence to the schedule has high priority, which guarantees a precise and punctual delivery.

Strengths: Due to their perfectionist nature, they are in the position to carry out tasks in a complete manner.

Weaknesses: Completers/finishers tend to get concerned with minor things. Because of their own high standards, they see only what could be improved. They often criticize and condemn themselves harshly for their imperfections and are under permanent stress, which they carry over to the team.4

3.2 The Implementer

Socio-emotional role of the implementer:

Implementers are a conservative, dutiful type that prefers working in a systematic and methodical manner. In doing so, they devote their interest to the company rather than personal goals.

Functional role of the implementer:

Implementers are very helpful to an organization, being effective due to their reliability and their sense for the important and the necessary. They transpose concepts and plans in practical processes and implement adopted schedules systematically and efficiently. Therefore they are to be appointed as effective organizers.

Strengths: An implementer has a knack for the practical and is highly disciplined in doing so.

Weaknesses: They sometimes lack spontaneity and flexibility. Given their stubbornness, they prefer to reject unproven ideas.

3.3 The Monitor/Evaluator

Socio-emotional role of the monitor/evaluator:

The monitor/evaluator is a calm person and a subtle thinker. Due to their rather steady, strategic and cautious manner of decision making, they act against enthusiasm.

Functional role of the monitor/evaluator:

Since monitors/evaluators provide a good overview by distancing themselves, they can weigh ideas and suggestions in detail under various circumstances. They are therefore most useful when it comes to analyzing problems, developing ideas and assessing and weighing their advantages and shortcomings. The ability to build a comprehensive assessment that takes all factors into consideration makes them an important part of a team.

Strengths: Power of judgment, discretion and sober-mindedness are counted amongst their strengths.

Weaknesses: Due to their thoughtful nature, monitors/evaluators are likely to appear dry, boring and overcritical. They often lack the drive and the ability to inspire others.

3.4 The specialist

Socio-emotional role of the specialist:

Specialists are „practitioners“, therefore experts in their field. They are dedicated persons, who take pride in their individual abilities and specific knowledge.

Functional role of the specialist:

Through their particular abilities, mostly based on talent and determination, specialists are irreplaceable team members. As leaders, they provide support to their colleagues, being often more knowledgeable on the topic than anyone else. When making decisions based on in-depth knowledge, it is helpful to bring in a specialist.


They make a positive contribution in their specialty and thus champion their professional standards.


While they show great pride in their abilities, they are less interested in the issues of others.


1 Cfr. 12manage - E-Learning Society on the topic of management. V12.0 (2013), Web.

2 Cfr. Sommer et al. (2009), p. 1 et seqq.

3 Cfr. Schulte-Kump (2011), Web.

4 Cfr. Wolf (n.y.), Web.

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The Team Roles Model According to Dr. Meredith Belbin
FHM University of Applied Sciences
Moderation and Presentation
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Anika Heinrich (Author)Jennifer Wall (Author), 2013, The Team Roles Model According to Dr. Meredith Belbin, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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