During the 1970’s DR Meredith Belbin and a research team at the Henley Management College observed groups of people in the form of teams and group work activated in order to find out where and how differences in a team come about, and if so these dynamics could be controlled and if problems were to occur they could be avoided. Over a period of nine years, international management teams were studied. Each participant completed a battery of psychometric tests, so that attributes such as personality and behaviour could include in the study and effects on the team could be accurately considered. As the team’s research continued, it had become apparent that there was a key difference in teams concerning their success and failure and these factors were dependent largely on the participant’s behavioural inclination. The Research team started to separate these various types of behaviour patterns, and each formed distinct roles people can contribute in a team.
A Team Role came to be defined as “A tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way.”
Everybody seems to have natural inclination for one or more of these ‘Team Roles’ when behaving naturally in a group. If you have more than one ‘natural role’, then you can switch between them if you choose, and this is useful knowledge if you ever need to fill a different role in a team.Nevertheless what is vital about Dr Belbin research is that by knowing the different types of roles each person would take in a group , they could predict whether the team would fail or succeed. In addition they could aid a failing group by substituting someone else with compatible roles , or the opposite making a successful group fail by eliminating a vital element.. They also found that if team members identify, share and discuss their team roles then this improves how people work and live together. They refined things as they went along, so some roles have more than one name.
(pg 20 , Belbin, R. (2004). Management teams : Why they succeed or fail / R. Meredith Belbin ; with a foreword by Antony Jay. (2nd ed.). Oxford: Elsevier ; Butterworth-Heinemann. )
Teams who wish to identify their strengths and allowable weaknesses to help achieve better results and be more effective, when individuals share their Team Roles knowledge within a team, the real value of Belbin Team Roles to the organisation becomes apparent: individuals within a team learn to understand the roles that others play, when and how to let another team member take over, and how to compensate for any shortcomings.