Team composition and understanding of roles are a success factor for successful project implementation. The Belbin model can be used to analyse and define an optimal mix of colleagues in the team with a wide variety of characteristics. My observation is that in international teams the mix is often easier to achieve due to the different cultural backgrounds. In teams without clear leadership authority it is even more elementary that the team members are deployed according to their strengths and the composition of the team is “optimal”.
Why do I have to take care of this?
In addition to my firm conviction that international and thus interculturally assembled teams are the best, we should take a closer look at why this is so. An analysis in an environment where leadership is given without epaulettes is particularly relevant. This is where optimally assembled teams become particularly important.
The origins of intercultural effectiveness with regard to team composition are determined by the cultural dimensions (e.g. according to Hofstede) and thus the stronger or weaker character of the people involved.
What does Belbin say?
Meredith Belbin presents nine roles in 1981, which should be taken into account when putting together a team. These nine roles are divided into three groups.
- Action-oriented roles
- Implementer = implements ideas and plans
- Finisher = Ensures quality-conscious work and ensures that deadlines are met
- Shaper = Encourages the team to improve. Eliminates problems.
- Communication-oriented roles
- Co-ordinator = Coordinates the team and promotes results orientation.
- Teamworker = promotes team building
- Resource Investigator = Promotes the exploitation of opportunities and forms a network in the project environment.
- Knowledge-oriented roles
- Plant = Shows ideas and possible solutions.
- Monitor-Evaluator = Analyzes options for action for their feasibility.
- Specialist = Brings in his expertise.
How does it work?
Team members and managers can identify the respective strengths and weaknesses in their own team by looking at the various roles and reflecting on them in order to use the potential of the individuals as well as the potential for the composition of teams. The team can be “balanced” through a mutual understanding and awareness of the characteristics. Surely the above mentioned roles will never be found in their pure form, because everyone assumes different roles depending on the project context or the project task, but nevertheless the understanding at least about the tendencies in the role characteristics for team cooperation helps.