Belbin Team Inventory
The Belbin Team Inventory, also called the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory or the Belbin Team Role Inventory, is a test used to gain insight into an individual's behavioural type. It was developed by Dr. Meredith Belbin after studying numerous teams at
Henley Management College.
Similarities to other tests
The Belbin Team Role Inventory assesses how an individual behaves in a team environment. It is therefore a behavioural tool, subject to change, and not a psychometric instrument. The test includes 360-degree feedback from observers as well as the individual's own assessment of their behaviour, and contrasts how they see their behaviour versus how their colleagues do. Unlike the Myers-Briggs, which is conventionally used to sort people into one of 16 types by how clearly they express their preference for 4 dichotomous types of behaviour, the Belbin Inventory scores people on how strongly they express traits from 9 different Team Roles.
An individual may and often does exhibit strong tendencies towards multiple Roles. Belbin himself asserts that the Team Roles are not equivalent to personality types.
Plants are creative, unorthodox and a generator of ideas. If an innovative solution to a problem is needed, a Plant is a good person to ask. A good plant will be bright and free-thinking. The Plant bears a strong resemblance to the popular caricature of the absentminded professor-inventor, and often has a hard time communicating ideas to others.
The Resource Investigator gives a team a rush of enthusiasm at the start of the project by vigorously pursuing contacts and opportunities. He or she is focused outside the team, and has a finger firmly on the pulse of the outside world. Where a Plant creates new ideas, a Resource Investigator will quite happily steal them from other companies or people. A good Resource Investigator is a maker of possibilities and an excellent networker, but has a tendency to lose momentum towards the end of a project and to forget small details.
A Coordinator often becomes the default chairperson of a team, stepping back to see the big picture. Coordinators are confident, stable and mature and because they recognise abilities in others, they are very good at delegating tasks to the right person for the job. The Coordinator clarifies decisions, helping everyone else focus on their tasks. Coordinators are sometimes perceived to be manipulative, and will tend to delegate all work, leaving nothing but the delegating for them to do.
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.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, according to Belbin, can lead to conflict, aggravation and in-fighting.
Monitor Evaluators are fair and logical observers and judges of what is going on. Because they are good at detaching themselves from bias, they are often the ones to see all available options with the greatest clarity. They take everything into account, and by moving slowly and analytically, will almost always come to the right decision. However, they can become excessively cynical, damping enthusiasm for anything without logical grounds, and they have a hard time inspiring themselves or others to be passionate about their work.
A Teamworker is the greasy oil between the cogs that keeps the machine that is the team running. They are good listeners and diplomats, talented at smoothing over conflicts and helping parties understand each other without becoming confrontational. The beneficial effect of a Teamworker is often not noticed until they are absent, when the team begins to argue, and small but important things cease to happen. Because of an unwillingness to take sides, a Teamworker may not be able to take decisive action when it is needed.
The Implementer takes what the other roles have suggested or asked, and turns their ideas into positive action. They are efficient and self-disciplined, and can always be relied on to deliver on time. They are motivated by their loyalty to the team or company, which means that they will often take on jobs everyone else avoids or dislikes. However, they may be seen as close-minded and inflexible since they will often have difficulty deviating from their own well-thought-out plans.
The Completer Finisher is a perfectionist and will often go the extra mile to make sure everything is "just right," and the things he or she delivers can be trusted to have been double-checked and then checked again. The Completer Finisher has a strong inward sense of the need for accuracy, rarely needing any encouragement from others because that individual's own high standards are what he or she tries to live up to. They may frustrate their teammates by worrying excessively about minor details and refusing to delegate tasks that they do not trust anyone else to perform.
Specialists are passionate about learning in their own particular field. As a result, they will have the greatest depth of knowledge, and enjoy imparting it to others. They are constantly improving their wisdom. If there is anything they do not know the answer to, they will happily go and find it. Specialists bring a high level of concentration, ability, and skill in their discipline to the team, but can only contribute on that narrow front and will tend to be uninterested in anything which lies outside its narrow confines.
tudies of Validity and Reliability
While the approach to Team Role analysis was first introduced in Belbin (1981), [Belbin. M. (1981). Management Teams. London; Heinemann,] the first independent scholarly study of the psychometric properties of the instruments was not published until 1993. [Furnham, A., Steele, H., & Pendleton, D. (1993, September). A psychometric assessment of the Belbin Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 66(3), 245-257.] Belbin (1993 September) took Furnham, Steele, & Pendleton (1993 September) to task [Belbin, R. (1993, September). A reply to the Belbin Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory by Furnham, Steele and Pendleton. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 66(3), 259-260.] and the journal provided Furnham space to reply. [Furnham, A., Steele, H., & Pendelton, D. (1993, September). A response to Dr. Belbin's reply. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 66(3), 261-261. Retrieved November 22, 2007.] Belbin's primary defense at the time was that the instruments were not intended for scholarly inquiry, but to inform management consulting practices. Furnham, et al. (November 1993) argue that despite any initial intent for the tools to be used for incidental purposes in training or other more risk tolerant areas, the reality is the a substantial number of organizations use the tools developed by Belbin to make high stakes decisions. A lack of transparency about their psychometric properties introduces substantial risks for those decision makers.
There have been several other scholarly studies of the validity and reliability of this approach over the nearly 15 years since the Furnham-Belbin exchange. Aritzeta, Swailes, & Senior (2007, January), for example, echo some of the findings of Furnham, et al. in that, while some of the roles seem to represent distinct analytical constructs, others are less well defined and are not easily differentiated. [Aritzeta, A., Swailes, S., & Senior, B. (2007, January). Belbin's team role model: Development, validity and applications for team building. Journal of Management Studies, 44(1), 96-118.] Fisher, Hunter, & MacRosson (2001, June) [Fisher, S., Hunter, T., & MacRosson, W. (2001, June). A validation study of Belbin's team roles. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10(2), 121-144.] take a different tack. They argue that the Furnham approach (also discussed in Fisher, Macrosson, & Sharp (1996) [Fisher, S.G., Macrosson, W.D.K., & Sharp, G. (1996). Further evidence concerning the Belbin team-role self-perception inventory. Personnel Review, 25, 61–67.] ) has fundamental problems in the definitions of several of the 8 roles (see also Broucek & Randell (1996, December) [Broucek, W., & Randell, G. (1996, December). An assessment of the construct validity of the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory and Observer's Assessment from the perspective of the five-factor model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 69(4), 389-405. ] for a more detailed treatment of this problem). Both the Fisher, et al. (2001) and the earlier Broucek & Randell(1996) find that observational and factor analytical approaches yield 5 rather than 8 role constructs. Fisher, et al. go on to argue that this coherence of the 5 traits of teams is backed up be earlier research by Barrick & Mount (1991). [Barrick, M.R., & Mount, M.K. (1991). The Big Five personality dimensions and job performance:A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 44, 1–26.] This "Big Five" approach seems to be a much more stable construct and may actually better represent what Belbin was trying to define.
* [http://courses.cs.vt.edu/~cs4704/jss.pdf Using Belbin’s Leadership Role to Improve Team Effectiveness]
* [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V0N-3VHWGKR-J&_user=10&_coverDate=01%2F31%2F1999&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=6af3a7e0d417d961a24f42f84746dfe9 Using Belbin's leadership role to improve team effectiveness: An empirical investigation]
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