For teams to be effective it is necessary for them to have a diverse composition of members. Each team member plays a distinct role, which enables the team to be a consolidated whole. Over the years, researchers have taken the initiative to carefully define and group individuals in various categories – referred to as team types or team roles.
Understanding which team type the different members of a team belong to leads to valuable insight on how team members can be predicted to think, to feel and to relate in certain situations. This behaviour can be either advantageous for the team and by extension the organisation or it can be disadvantageous. Either, there is a need for team leaders to have an awareness of their own role and that of members on their teams.
For the purposes of this article, eight team types will be briefly discussed as they appear in the Personality and Values Questionnaire (PVQ). The PVQ is a psychometric test which seeks to distinguish individuals in terms of their unique personalities and values. These team types will be matched with Belbin’s nine team roles which have been extensively researched and applied to teams in organisations.
The first team type listed in the PVQ is the coordinator. Team coordinators are individuals who are more team-oriented than most members. These individuals are able to lead the team. They utilise strategies such as effective delegation, clarification of goals and promoting decision-making to ensure that team tasks are completed. The typical profile of this team type is a mature and confident individual. Coordinators are known to serve as good chairpersons. Coordinators have been found to be experienced as being somewhat manipulative by the members on their team. They also may delegate personal work to colleagues instead of completing it themselves which could impact the way other members view their ability to complete a task. In summation, the coordinator recognises the individual talents in their team, they delegate and offer necessary rewards when due. This team type can be seen to closely relate to the coordinator team role outlined by Belbin.
The second team type outlined in the PVQ is that of the shaper-driver. Individuals classified under this type are usually concerned with ensuring that a task is completed well yet also in the quickest time possible. Sharper-drivers aren’t known to be good at compromising and as a result may unintentionally dominate the group to ensure that tasks are completed according to their subjective preferences. This team type may get frustrated with themselves and others from time-to-time due to the contrast of desiring tasks to be done quickly yet flawless. Sharper-drivers may come across as forceful in their interactions with other team members. They are often only able to appreciate their own ideas hence they can be viewed as dominating by others. Effectivity for this team type is depended on them learning to appreciate the motivations and interests of their colleagues. This team type can benefit from learning to be more patient with their team members, allowing them to take charge and feel in control of their work. It is important for this team type to realise that the slow and steady workers on their team also have a role to play in meeting the bigger objective. This team type links closest to Belbin’s team role of the shaper.
The third team type is the evaluator-critic team type. This team type is characterised by their ability to think thoroughly about a matter and then act accordingly. Evaluator-critics think extensively about a problem, the possible solutions to a problem and then make their decision on the most practical and feasible course of action to follow. A known weakness of this team type is that they may at times have difficulties inspiring and motivating others. Evaluator-critics are most effective in jobs that require strategic thinking. As alluded to by Belbin’s monitor-evaluator team role – these individuals are clear-headed and are known to be perceptive. They keep an open mind as they tend to think of and consider all options before reaching their decisions.
Fourthly, the PVQ identifies implementers. These individuals are primarily known to come up with useful strategies for the team to successfully attain goals. Implementers are described as leaning towards being unhappy when partaking in roles that demand the continuous generation of new ideas from them. Although able to appreciate innovation, they usually require that innovative ideas are supported by facts and supporting evidence to buy into them. According to Belbin, implementers may caution on the side of inflexibility at times. They tend to be rather steadfast in their views and ways of doing things. A shortcoming of this team role is their lack of enthusiasm to act on new possibilities that may arise.
The team builder is the fifth team type listed. Team-builders can communicate their proposals to the rest of the team in a convincing manner. These team types are able to get their ideas across with relative ease. To a large extent, this is because these individuals don’t appear self-opinionated are intolerant when conveying their ideas. Team builders are aware of the feelings of others, they have the capacity to respond to these feelings appropriately. These individuals are known to be friendly and can influence others in the team to act in a similar manner. As the name says, team builders are also notorious for building team morale. These individuals are co-operative and generally try and avoid any form of conflict. As managers, however, they exhibit reluctance to push others or make unpopular decisions. Belbin, in his team roles, speaks of a teamworker. One of the noteworthy weaknesses of these individuals is that often, they may be indecisive when faced with making a pressing decision.
The sixth team type of the PVQ is the resource-investigator. These individuals use resources outside of the team to enhance the tasks of their teams. The resource-investigator is thought to be quite charming and use this charm to network on behalf of the team. These individuals are also concerned with enhancing the team’s reputation amongst outside parties. A flaw of this team type is they may have the tendency to prioritise networking and securing external resources at the expense of investing time with their team. This can be detrimental to the team’s needs and expectations. Belbin also identifies a resource investigator in his team roles. According to Belbin’s characterisation, these individuals are usually extroverted and enthusiastic about tasks. Consequentially, however, they tend to be overly optimistic at first and lose interest rapidly after the initial enthusiasm.
The inspector-completer team type mirrors the completer-finisher team role outlined in Belbin’s classification of the different team members. This team type acts meticulously in their work. They pay attention to detail and easily pick up mistakes and omissions made alike. They are time conscious hence they are known to meet deadlines. However, they are more likely to suffer from anxiety than the average team type. They also worry excessively and experience significant challenges in delegating due to their need for things to be done perfectly and in accordance with their expectations.
Lastly, is the innovator. The abilities of the innovator are best utilised inside of the organisation as opposed to outside of it. Innovators are okay with pursuing their ideas on their own if they have the companionship of their colleagues. They are creative and are able to stimulate the team with exciting, new ideas. The innovator is similar to the plant described in Belbin’s team roles. This team type finds solutions to difficult, taxing problems. They usually have unconventional yet resourceful ideas and solutions to problems. A shortcoming of the plant team role according to Belbin is that they may be extremely busy generating ideas that they miscommunicate with the rest of their team members.
In conclusion, a team needs a balance of different team types in order to operate optimally. It is important to note that no one team type is better than the other. Rather, all team types are of equal importance each making up for where another team type may fall short. All team types tend to have certain weaknesses and shortcomings. Nevertheless, with sufficient insight into individual patterns coupled with training, these shortcomings can be turned into strengths to advance the team at large.
What is your team type?
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