How Strong is Your Team? Part 1

Every player on the team is important and necessary in order to achieve success. The Public Speaker explains work team roles and how developing the strengths and managing the weakness of team members will increase effectiveness.

Lisa B. Marshall
3-minute read
Episode #169

Have you ever tried playing a baseball game without a first baseman, or play a game of soccer without any fullbacks? Probably not because when we play team sports, we intuitively understand that every player on the team has a role and each role is important and necessary in order to achieve success. Without players in every role, the team is incomplete. In this two part series, we’ll explore work team roles to help you develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses as a team member.  .

Sport teams are a great way to understand the importance of roles on a team.  Some people are natural pitchers, while others are much better suited for catching. Some are better at offense, while others are better at defense. On a team, each player has their individual strengths and weaknesses, but when they work together, especially with others who complement their skill sets, they have a much higher chance of achieving success and reaching their goals.

Sport teams are a great way to understand the importance of roles on a team.

When it comes to work teams, are you the go-to person when it comes to innovative ideas and creative problem solving? Do your organizational skills stand out? Are you known for your critical analytical thinking?  Like sports teams, work teams also have specific positions or roles within them.

Belbin’s Team Roles

In the early 1970s Dr. Meredith Belbin, a management theorist who is best known for his work on management teams, was able to identify and categorize clusters of behaviors that were necessary for team success. To be clear, he was not identifying personalities. What he identified were patterns of behavior such as “identifying team tasks” or “following up with team tasks” that individuals often have a preference or aptitude for. He also found that when team members understand the tasks at hand, the roles they play, while understanding their strengths and managing their weaknesses, a team is able to achieve more. 

Can you Identify Yourself and Your Teammates?

Let’s look at the first 4 roles Dr. Belbin identified more closely. As you learn about them, think about a team you’re on now. See if you can identify team activities you tend to prefer or dislike. Think about who is playing which role on your current team. (Keep in mind, one person can play multiple roles.)

Role #1: The Plant. If you are The Plant, you’re a team member who is a creative problem solver, a bright, innovative free thinker who may be unorthodox or forgetful. A stereotypical characterization might be the absentminded professor who has a hard time communicating. If you are The Plant, it is important to listen to ideas from other team members and don’t get ruffled when your ideas are evaluated or rejected. 

Role #2: The Monitor Evaluator. Monitor Evaluators are known for their logic and impartiality. You may hear this team member say, “Have we reviewed all of the options so we can be sure we make the right decision?” This team member slowly and analytically takes everything into account and is often described as serious and prudent. If you are a Monitor Evaluator, it’s important to remember to not be overly critical or excessively negative because your behaviors can lower the morale of the team.  

Role #3: The Coordinator.  Coordinators keep everyone focused and are often confident, stable, and mature. Coordinators are often described as calm and controlled and are good at getting everyone working together to achieve the team’s shared goals. If you are the Coordinator, be aware that at times you will be perceived as manipulative, especially if you delegate all the work and have nothing to do.

Role #4: The Resource Investigator. Resource Investigators look outside of the team for opportunities and developing contacts. They are usually excellent networkers and makers of possibilities. They are often described as extroverted and enthusiastic. They have a rush of enthusiasm at the start, but tend to lose momentum with time and forget small details.

That’s all we have time for today. Next week we’ll pick up with the remaining 5 roles and wrap up with a discussion of how you can use these roles to build better teams.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication; the more you learn, the more you earn.

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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.