Belbin for Breakfast
Good morning and I hope you’ve had a great breakfast today. But what do the Belbin Team Roles have to do with a fried egg?
If you’d like more of an intro into psychometrics before getting into this article, check out my first Monday Morning Metrics article here:
As I mentioned in my MBTI article, looking at our personalities at work is interesting and useful – but personality tends to change very slowly. So, while personality testing can still be a revealing exercise, when it comes to developing yourself, we often need to look further: Not just at our personalities, but the ways we use our personalities in the workplace.
This is one of the goals of the Belbin Team Profiles, developed by Dr. Meredith Belbin who still works at the company today. While it looks similar to a personality tool, but the Belbin instead measures behaviour: or rather, your preferred ways of behaving at work.
These preferences are influenced by your personality, of course, but vary depending on lots of other things, like your work culture, your status, and what you had for breakfast. So, whilst it’s usually a negative for a personality test to vary on the situational context, instead the Belbin embraces this variation. Obviously this means your Belbin results might vary massively when you do them at different stages of your life and work – but since the real goal here is to is to look at how we actually go about working with each other to get results, the situational stuff is perhaps just as important as what goes on underneath.
This is where the egg comes in.
Think of the yolk of the egg as your personality. It is relatively fixed in its shape and tends to sit at the centre. Around this, though, the egg whites, your behaviour and communication, tend to run and flow and fit whatever shape they are required to – but of course some shapes are more natural for them to fit than others.
Also unlike the MBTI, the Belbin tests traits rather than types – which is usually regarded as the preferred way of doing things nowadays. For instance, rather than being either a ‘Coordinator’ or not a ‘Coordinator’, you receive a score from 0 up to 100 on how natural that behaviour is for you. For example, if you score only a 10, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad at Coordinating – but rather that it’s not a natural behaviour for you and might require more effort from you if you have to work in that style.
So, what are the nine Belbin Team Roles?
Rather than repeat what’s already written, I’d like to link you to this nice summary page from the Belbin website which introduces you to each of the nine team roles. While reading these, have a think about which roles you tend to gravitate to the most in your work, and which ones you prefer avoiding:
I’ve plotted my own Belbin profile on this handy egg diagram below.
The styles very close to the yolk – my personality – like Resource Investigator and Coordinator are the ones I score highly on, and working in these ways are natural and easy for me. In fact, I’m investigating resources for you right now as you’re reading my blog.
The styles further away, like Completer-Finisher and Monitor Evaluator are those that I’m probably still able to do, but which would require substantially more effort from me and might cause me more stress if I had to carry on working in these ways long-term. Roles like Plant and Shaper are not really suitable for me (hence not part of my egg at all) – and are working styles I should avoid if possible!
Three uses for the Belbin Team Roles
Now that I have my Belbin results, what happens next? As with any psychometric, looking at the results individually can be useful and interesting, but the Belbin results come to life in team sessions where you can learn and make changes on how everyone works together.
When running Belbin across the a team, for instance, you might encounter any of these three scenarios:
- Maybe no one in your team is a natural Coordinator, so somebody is already (unconsciously) picking up that role. You can explore how it feels for someone to be put into that role, and what extra support they might need.
- Maybe you are all Resource Investigators! You might discuss the risks of always gravitating to that style even when it might not be effective, and what other strengths each of you bring to the team.
- Maybe you are looking at hiring someone. You notice that your team doesn’t have a strong Implementer – so you might consider looking for a candidate with a preference for that role. They are likely to integrate well and bring something new.
As I’ve mentioned before though, don’t ever put your entire recruitment or development drive behind the psychometric – but when you use it as part of a balanced assessment or a development workshop, it can be invaluable.
I hope that overview of the Belbin was useful and interesting. What are your views on the Belbin? Does embracing the situational context like this work, or is it inaccurate? If you have questions or comments, please do get in touch on Linked In or Twitter, Tweet at @dovenestjacob, or e-mail me at Jacob.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next time, I plan to go back into the world of personality testing and look at the Pearman Personality Integrator – another test based on Jung’s theories, like the MBTI, but taking a novel and interesting approach!
Psyence & Dove Nest Group