Does Belbin’s widely applied theory really forecast great team performance? Part 2

Part 2: Determining balance in a team

A common fallacy in applying team role theory is that an ideal team consists of 9 members each representing a different team role. The optimum team size is 4-7 however, and team members can play more than one team role. My team roles, for example, are collaborator and finisher (Shown on the graph below. Note: the team role labels are those used by the Potential.ly model rather than Belbin)

It is not always possible for smaller teams to cover all of the team roles, yet it is possible for someone to assume a team role that is not ‘natural’ to them. A team role is said to be ‘natural’ if a person obtains a score of 70 or above for that role. The ‘able to be assumed’ level is thought to coincide with a score of 30 – 60, and this may not be too detrimental to a team’s overall performance. Therefore subjective judgement is required in order to determine whether a team is demonstrating a sufficient level of balance.

Senior argues that a team is balanced when a team role’s average score when taking all team members’ scores into account is equal to average scores on the other team roles. This interpretation of balance is not often used, but it makes sense that a role may not be represented at the natural level by someone in the team, but can be collectively represented at a level which is equal to the other team roles.

Also, if the average scores on each role are equal there should be balance, for example the number of Plants who generate ideas is equal to the number of Implementers whose role it is to ensure ideas are materialised. More subjective judgement is required here – in weighing up whether the team roles are balanced, but Senior suggests there is a sufficient level of balance if on average all the roles are within 20 scores of each other.

 

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About the author

Miriam Carey

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