People - Top Tips - Team Roles

Team Roles


This document is designed as a quick reference guide to Belbin’s Team Roles…

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.

This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.



When a team is performing at its best it is often the case that everyone within that team has clear responsibilities and performs their role to the best of their abilities.

However, it is possible that a team can still fall short of its full potential despite the individuals within it all having clear roles and responsibilities. This could be for a number of reasons e.g. some individuals may not be flexible enough, some individuals may feel frustrated with others in the team and so on.


In his work, Dr Meredith Belbin observed that when working in teams, individuals tend to assume different ‘team roles’. He defines a ‘team role’ as a ‘tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.

He subsequently identified eight roles that needed to be filled in a team in order for it to be successful; his daughter Judith later added a ninth role.

People - Top Tips - Team Roles

What you need to know

Belbin’s Team Roles

The nine roles are categorized into three groups, action orientated, people orientated and thought orientated.


Action Orientated Team Roles:

     Shapers – these individuals make things happen by focusing the team in the right direction, questioning norms and finding the best solutions for problems. Shapers will make sure that all possibilities are considered and approach challenges in a positive way. However, they can sometimes be argumentative.


     Implementers – get things done and turn ideas in to actions and plans. Implementers tend to be systematic and efficient and can always be relied on to get the job done. A potential weakness is that they may be resistant to change.


     Completer – Finisher – ensures that work is completed thoroughly and pays attention to detail. They are focused on getting work done on time and can be described as perfectionists. Completer – Finishers may find it difficult to delegate and can worry unnecessarily.



People Orientated Team Roles:

     Co-ordinator – usually take on the role of team leader and are able to recognise what other team members can bring to the table. They delegates tasks effectively although may sometimes delegate away too much responsibility.


     Team Worker – provide support and make sure everyone is working together. Team workers can take on the role of mediator in the group, smoothing out any tensions that may exist and consider this to be a priority. They do have a tendency to be indecisive at times and find it difficult to commit to action when making decisions.


     Resource Investigator – Innovative and curious, resource investigators will explore a range of options and build networks that will help the team to achieve their objectives. They are often extroverted and gain positive responses from others. However, they may lose enthusiasm quickly and be over optimistic.


Thought Orientated Team Roles:

     Plant – comes up with new ideas and approaches. They are motivated by praise from others and don’t respond well to negative feedback. They often prefer to work apart from the team and may be poor communicators.


     Monitor – Evaluator – good at analysing and evaluating ideas that other people generate. They are thorough in their decision making process, considering the pros and cons. They are strategic in their approach and often perceived as detached or unemotional. Tend to be more reactive than proactive.


     Specialists – have the knowledge that is needed to get the job done and pride themselves on their skills and abilities. They are fully committed to their field of expertise which may limit their contribution to the team.

People - Top Tips - Team Roles

Understanding and using team roles

By understanding your own role in a team you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses so as to improve your contribution to the team and understanding the role of others will help you create a more balanced team.


The following step by step process can be used to analyse your team so as to build on strengths and work on weaknesses:

1.   Observe your team and their behaviours

2.   Write the key strengths and characteristics you have identified in each individual

3.   Compare your notes with the Belbin role descriptions and find the one that most accurately reflects each individual

4.   Consider the following questions:

     Which team roles are missing from your team? What strengths are likely to be missing overall?

     Do you have a large number of individuals demonstrating a similar role?

     What options do you have to rebalance? E.g. could an individual adopt a different role? Could the team improve how they work together?


Remember: Using Belbin’s team roles to help develop your team is just one of many tools you could use and there are other factors to consider in order creating a high performing team.