Belbin Team Roles

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Assessing the typical behavior of the members of a team. Explanation of Meredith Belbin's Team Roles. (1981)

What are the Belbin Team Roles? Description

The Belbin Team Roles method, also referred to as Belbin Team Inventory, was developed by Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin and first published in his 1981 book Management Teams. It is a model that can be used to describe and gain insight into the behavior of one team member in relationship to another. The Belbin Inventory scores people on how strongly they express traits from 9 different Team Roles.

Cluster of Behavior

Team Role

Strengths - Contributions

Allowable Weaknesses

Action-oriented roles


Brings dynamism, challenging, thrives on pressure. The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

The shaper is a task-focused leader who abounds in nervous energy, who has a high motivation to achieve and for whom winning is the name of the game. The shaper is committed to achieving ends and will ‘shape’ others into achieving the aims of the team.

Prone to provocation. Offends people's feelings.

He or she will challenge, argue or disagree and will display aggression in the pursuit of goal achievement. Two or three shapers in a group can lead to conflict, aggravation and in-fighting.


Brings discipline and reliability, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical actions.

Implementers are aware of external obligations and are disciplined, conscientious and have a good self-image. They tend to be tough-minded and practical, trusting and tolerant, respecting established traditions. They are characterized by low anxiety and tend to work for the team in a practical, realistic way. Implementers figure prominently in positions of responsibility in larger organizations. They tend to do the jobs that others do not want to do and do them well: for example, disciplining employees.

Somewhat inflexible and conservative. Slow to respond to new possibilities.

Completer Finisher

Brings conscientiousness, painstaking, anxious. Searches out errors and omissions. Delivers on time.

The completer finisher gives attention to detail, aims to complete and to do so thoroughly. They make steady effort and are consistent in their work. They are not so interested in the glamour of spectacular success.

Inclined to worry unduly. Reluctant to delegate.

People-oriented roles



Co-ordinator (1988)

Brings maturity, confident, a good chairperson. Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.

The coordinator is a person-oriented leader. This person is trusting, accepting, dominant and is committed to team goals and objectives. The coordinator is a positive thinker who approves of goal attainment, struggle and effort in others. The coordinator is someone tolerant enough always to listen to others, but strong enough to reject their advice.

Can often be seen as manipulative. Off loads personal work.

May not stand out in a team and usually does not have a sharp intellect.


Brings co-operation, mild, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens, builds, averts friction.

Team workers make helpful interventions to avert potential friction and enable difficult characters within the team to use their skills to positive ends. They tend to keep team spirit up and allow other members to contribute effectively. Their diplomatic skills together with their sense of humor are assets to a team. They tend to have skills in listening, coping with awkward people and to be sociable, sensitive and people oriented.

Indecisive in crunch situations.

They tend to be indecisive in moments of crisis and reluctant to do things that might hurt others.

Resource Investigator

Brings enthusiasm, extrovert, communicative. Explores opportunities. Develops contacts.

The resource investigator is the executive who is never in his room, and if he is, he is on the telephone. The resource investigator is someone who explores opportunities and develops contacts. Resource investigators are good negotiators who probe others for information and support and pick up other’s ideas and develop them. They are characterized by sociability and enthusiasm and are good at liaison work and exploring resources outside the group.

Over - optimistic. Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.

Is usually not the source of original ideas.

Cerebral (thinking and problem-solving) roles


Brings creativity, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems.

The plant is a specialist idea maker characterized by high IQ and introversion while also being dominant and original. The plant tends to take radical approaches to team functioning and problems. Plants are more concerned with major issues than with details.

Ignores incidentals. Too pre-occupied to communicate effectively.

Tendency to disregard practical details and to argumentativeness.

Monitor Evaluator

Brings objective judgment, sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options. Judges accurately.

According to the model, this is a judicious, prudent, intelligent person with a low need to achieve. Monitor evaluators contribute particularly at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. The monitor evaluator is not deflected by emotional arguments, is serious minded, tends to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over. He takes pride in never being wrong.

Lacks drive and ability to inspire others.

May appear dry and boring or even over-critical. Those in high level appointments are often monitor evaluators.

Specialist (1988)

(Added by Belbin in 1988). Brings dedication, single-minded, self-starting. Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply.

They are often highly introverted and anxious and tend to be self-starting, dedicated and committed.

Contributes only on a narrow front. Dwells on technicalities.

Single-mindedness and a lack of interest in other peoples’ subjects.

Origin of the Belbin Team Roles model. History

Belbin Team Roles - Self Perception Team Role ProfileDr. Raymond Meredith Belbin was born in 1926. He took first and second degrees at Cambridge University. After his doctorate, he was as a research fellow at Cranfield College. His early research focused mainly on older workers in industry. He returns to Cambridge in the late 1960s and joins the Industrial Training Research Unit. Here he is invited to carry out research at what was then called the Administrative Staff College at Henley-on-Thames. This work formed the basis of his 1981 book 'Management Teams'.

Usage of Belbin Team Roles. Applications

  • Ensuring that each needed role in a team or project is actually performed by somebody.
  • Clustering certain activities in one team member in a logical way.
  • If the team members are allowed to perform the activities they like most, they will be more motivated which will normally increase the team performance
  • Well balanced teams are less risk-bearing and typically require less management attention.

Limitations of the Belbin Team Roles method. Disadvantages

  • While comparisons can be drawn between the behavioral team roles of Belbin and Management Profiles, it is important to remember that Belbin roles represent tasks and functions in the self-management of the activities in a team, and are not personality types or Thinking Preferences. Although there are tests to analyze your ideal team roles, this does not mean you can not or should not assume other roles.

  • In larger projects, the team activities are likely to be grouped into Team Processes.

  • Belbin himself acknowledges that some teams consisting of one Shaper and a group of "yes" men perform well, especially where predictability was high.
  • Actually, team activities change during a project. Compare: Stages of Team Development.
  • There may be more than one plant needed to bring ideas and perspectives into a team. Compare: Six Thinking Hats.
  • The model does not take into account hierarchal relations between people.
  • Certain people may not like each other. As a result they may be unable to work together.

Book: R. Meredith Belbin - Management Teams -

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Compare with Belbin's Team Roles: Team Management Profile  |  Stages of Team Development  |  Action Learning  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  Brainstorming  |  Whole Brain Model  |  PMBOK  |  PAEI

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