As a project manager, you need to know your employees in order to form the most successful for your projects. By knowing the skills and characteristics of those you work with, you can leverage the mix and inter-dependencies of their psychological traits for team roles, therefore maximising your next project’s potential.
According to Meredith Belbin, a British management theorist who researched and analysed workplace cultures and teamwork dynamics, found that most successful projects have nine team roles that they cover. These nine team roles can be split into three groups: action-oriented roles, thought-oriented roles, and people-oriented roles.
Naturally, it is great if all team members get along well, however the most important factor is that people’s skills and traits are complementary. This way, the team will be balanced and efficient, as one person’s weakness can be balanced out with another’s strength.
The thought-oriented roles consist of the specialist, which is the person that brings the in-depth knowledge and expertise required to complete the project, the monitor evaluator provides a logical eye and assesses the viability of ideas, and the plant, which is the creative thinker, can solve problems in a unique way.
The action-oriented team roles include the shaper, the person motivating and driving the team forward and maintaining focus on the project, the implementer, which is the person that puts ideas into action through a workable strategy and ‘gets things done’, and then there is the monitor evaluator, who comes in at the end of the project with a conscientious mind and scrutinises the work from error.
Finally, part of the people-oriented roles is the coordinator, which is the more traditional type of team leader that has a clear focus on the project’s objectives and delegates tasks accordingly. Then there is the resource investigator, which is the innovative and outgoing person on the team with numerous outside contacts, that is responsible for exploring opportunities and sourcing outside stakeholders for the project. Lastly, the team worker is the most sensitive on the team, and this person’s main concern is that everyone on the team gets along well and works harmoniously.
While projects that experienced success have these nine team roles covered, not all team need to have nine people on them. In fact, most people can identify themselves in 2-3 of these team roles, Belbin says.
Regardless of how many people are in a team, it is important that all members contribute in a unique way and add overall value to the group. If majority of the team is introverted and has trouble making difficult decisions, then a lot of time would be wasted on discussion, rather than making the tough calls. On the other hand, if everyone is strong-minded and opinionated, then arguments and disagreements could hinder the team from progressing efficiently. Therefore, balance is imperative.
The infographic below, created by Market Inspector UK highlights each of these nine roles and their respective pros and cons.