Team roles: 9 types of roles to create a well-balanced team
Teamwork is closely linked to organization and collaboration. For teams to be as productive as possible, everyone must play a specific role according to their strengths.
Dr. Meredith Belbin developed a team role theory based on behavioral attributes. Belbin’s nine team roles fall into three categories: action roles, mental roles, and social roles.
Team members serving in action roles are ready to put everything into action and work well under tight deadlines. Those who serve mental roles are critical thinkers who can come up with novel ideas. While team members serving in social roles have strong communication skills, which can help them support an entire team.
In this guide, we’ll cover Belbin’s nine team roles and explain why balancing the team can promote productivity .
Drivers are the team members who move the group forward. They are people of action, they motivate themselves and also motivate others despite any inconvenience that may arise. Boosters are natural leaders . When a crisis occurs, they quickly find a solution.
Example of the role of the driver in the team: If we take the example of a Product Marketing team, the driver would be the Product Manager, who oversees the vision of the team and the roadmap to achieve the objective.
Implementers are also action-oriented team members who maintain order in their work environments. They are practical and excellent at bringing ideas to fruition. While implementers like action, they are also highly disciplined. These types of individuals can be the backbone of a team because they are able to confidently support other teammates.
Example of the role of the implementer in the team: An implementer could be a data-driven business analyst who works in the Product Marketing team evaluating different ways to make the organization’s processes more efficient.
The last of the action roles is the finisher. True to the name, Finishers are dedicated people who work hard to discover small details and strive for perfection. These team members may be more introverted, but they are highly valuable in the workplace because they are the ones who push the other team members to produce high-quality work.
Example of the role of the finalizer in the team: Finalizers work very well in the help desk area. They know how to identify problems and fix them quickly and efficiently.
The brain is a member of the team that has a mental role, is innovative and creative. While brains help balance the team, they prefer to brainstorm and solidify their own ideas before sharing them with the rest of the team. The brains prefer to work alone , but their input is very valuable even if they are not as verbose as other members of the group.
Example of the role of the brain in the team: Brains are usually very creative, which is why they can be excellent product designers.
5. Evaluator monitor.
Another mental role within the team is that of evaluator monitor. These types of people are rational thinkers and can put emotions aside to solve a problem. Evaluator monitors work best when projects require in-depth knowledge and a strategic plan . They are the ones who evaluate ideas to determine if they are useful and viable, then take the necessary steps to move those ideas forward.
Example of the monitor-evaluator role in the team: Monitor-evaluators are hyper-organized project managers who examine projects and connect the dots between different teams.
The last mental role is that of the specialist. Specialists have an in-depth knowledge of their field of action and prefer to contribute in a specific area of specialization. Specialists follow the same pattern as all mental roles, in which, in a way, you work better alone than in a group. But despite being more independent, they bring great value to the team with their specific skills.
Example of the role of the specialist in the team: The specialists can be the coders, the SEO analysts or the technical staff of the team. They specialize in something that the rest of the team may not know much about, but luckily they do know very well.
We move forward to focus on social roles. The coordinator is a team member with excellent communication skills. Coordinators generally occupy managerial positions because they are the ones who promote collaboration and motivate the team so that the objectives are met. Other team members respect the coordinators and trust their decisions.
Example of the coordinator’s role in the team: The coordinator enjoys collaborating and motivating others. You can function well as the leader of a team of product developers.
Coherers also belong to the group of social roles. The outgoing personality helps them to function well with other people and to listen to their teammates. These team members can easily adapt to changes in the environment and know how to harmonize when conflicts arise . If a team member has too much work to do or if someone has a family emergency, coherers are the first to step in and offer help.
Team Bonder role example: Because Bonders are born collaborators, they stand out as product marketers within larger teams.
9. Resource Investigator.
The last of the nine team roles is resource investigator. They have people skills and enjoy exploring new options such as finding potential market opportunities for the company or chatting with stakeholders on product launch cases. Their positive attitude is what makes them natural relationship builders or born facilitators of new business.
Example of the role of the resource investigator in the team: Since resource investigators like to interact with other people, they are very successful with the sale of products.
How to create a balanced team
Creating well-balanced teams at work can be quite challenging when you have different personalities and strengths at play. It’s unlikely that most teams will have enough people to fill all nine team roles, which is why it’s critical to know how to work with the group you have and take advantage of each member’s particular strengths.
Develop the strengths of team members
Each of the roles has its strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of this can help you create a more balanced team. For example, a brain may be less comfortable with communications, but it may know how to solve some complex problem. A finisher may not have much experience with group work, but they will always submit assignments on time.
When assigning responsibilities to different team members, focus on the strengths of each of them. To put it into practice, you can use test tasks or evaluations for employees. When team members can apply their strengths in their daily work, team performance is optimal.
Assess the gaps in your team
If there are too many people with the same strengths on a team, the group becomes in conflict and gaps can be left unbridged. For example, if there are too many people with skills for mental roles but not enough people for action roles, there may be a lot of ideas but no execution.
Gaps in the team can be noted through regular evaluations. You shouldn’t just be evaluating team members’ performance, but you should be looking at how they work together. You can rotate responsibilities and job types based on certain aspects of behavior and personality types. Team building games are great for connecting with the group and learning how you work together.
Review team roles regularly
To compose high-performing teams, it is essential that the roles and responsibilities of the group are reviewed regularly. Use quarterly reviews where you can review team members’ progress; if their skills have improved over time, if they would be better off in a different role, or if they could use some extra training.
For example, someone who is generally introverted and more suited to mental roles can gain confidence and develop their communication skills. Upon further evaluation, you will probably find that they are actually suited to social roles and could function well in leadership positions. If you don’t do regular reviews and open communications, team members won’t be able to grow into new roles.
Team management tools
Team management tools can provide clarity for assigning tasks and completing projects as a group. After all, collaboration is easier when everyone has the same visibility into who is doing what and by when. With clarity and insight into team member priorities, the entire group can function much better.
An important part of team management is being proactive in managing workloads. Resource management is about looking at schedules, understanding project life cycles, and using tools to better understand both people and projects. It’s the key to keeping projects running smoothly without putting too much pressure on one person.
The correct allocation of resources is essential for the success of projects and teams. Resource allocation helps determine the availability of resources, how many of those resources you need for each project, and how likely team members are to accomplish each project. Creating a plan for resource management is an excellent option to keep projects under control from start to finish.
A roles and responsibilities matrix, also known as a RACI chart , can be very helpful in clarifying project roles and understanding who is responsible for each task. RACI is the acronym for Responsible, Approving, Consulted and Informed. To create a RACI chart, schedule all the tasks in a project. Next, assign one of those four tags to each team member for each task you have.
Kanban boards are great for team members to see what stage the project is at and what’s missing to get it done. Tasks represent jobs to be done. With Kanban boards, team members can visually organize projects and workflows. This system facilitates the visualization of projects, since it offers a clear view of the stages and priorities of each initiative.
Tools for team collaboration
Team collaboration is so much easier when you have the right tools . Who wouldn’t want to eliminate repetitive work? Not only can you streamline tasks, but team members can align goals, manage changes, share files, and more.
A tool for team collaboration can be useful to avoid taking risks and to improve task management in all areas. If you want to help employees thrive in their roles, let everyone have access to the tool as it will make their jobs easier.
Well-balanced teams increase productivity
The application of the nine team roles proposed by Belbin can be very useful to create a balanced work environment, so that the team is more productive. When you know what to do to take advantage of the strengths of the team members, each one feels much better in her role; plus, everyone can collaborate as a group to complete tasks more efficiently.
Once you know what role each team member occupies, collaboration tools can help speed up workflows. With these tools, the team can share updates, schedule tasks, and communicate better and more seamlessly.