Do You Know Your Team Role Types?

Do you know your team Role types?

Often when a group of people get together it is up to a leader to transform this group into a high performance team. There are many factors that play into whether a team is effective.  How then can a leader take a team from this initial, forming, stage and turn it into a highly cohesive, effective force to be reckoned with?

One of the keys is understanding different roles common to most teams. Then knowing how to combine the different role types in a way that they complement each other.

According to a widely accepted theory of team roles by Dr Meredith Belbin there are 9 team roles; action oriented, people oriented and thought oriented.  Most people tend to have one, two or three preferred team role types.

The expression of each role type has both strengths and potential weaknesses. Belbin’s Team Roles are described below:

Action oriented:

  • Shaper: Dynamic, outgoing, dominant, extravert, task leaders, need achievement, headstrong and assertive. Sometimes see the team as extension of their own ego. Sometimes susceptible to being provoked and offending people.

  • Implementer: Disciplined, reliable, stable, controlled, conservative and efficient. Practical organisers. Concerned with reality and the possible. Can be counted on to do reliably what needs to be done. May sometimes be inflexible.

  • Completer finisher: Painstaking, conscientious, introverted, anxious, reluctant to delegate, unassertive, insist on discipline and focus, great capacity for follow through.

People Oriented:

  • Co-ordinator: Mature, confident, preoccupied with objectives, disciplined, authoritative, and charismatic.

  • Teamworker: Sociable, sensitive, mild, perceptive and accommodating. Build relationships. Communicate concern and care. Promote unity and harmony. May be susceptible to indecision in crunch situations.

  • Resource investigator: Extravert, enthusiastic, communicative, exploring opportunities and developing contacts. Likeable, sociable and gregarious. Get bored without stimulus and may lose interest after the initial excitement is over.

Thought Oriented:

  • Plant: Individualistic, original, creative, imaginative and unorthodox. Concerned with fundamentals rather than detail. Easily offended if ideas criticised.

  • Monitor evaluator: A capacity for shrewd judgement, sober, strategic, discerning, introverted, serious, prudent, constructively critical and able to assimilate material objectively. May need help with drive and inspiring others.

  • Specialist: Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. Provide knowledge or technical skills. Priorities geared to their area of speciality rather than the team. Sometimes this leads to the “silo” mentality where they work in isolation.

Combinations likely to work

Due to the positioning of the personalities, the combination below is likely to work well.

When the Team Leader is a Shaper, with an Implementer reporting to them and a Plant. The Shaper will cast the vision and communicate the strategy, the Implementer can be counted on to do what needs to be done and the Plant brings stability to the team. This combination also works well with a Resource Investigator as part of the team.

Another example of a combination that is likely to work well is when the Team Leader is a Co-ordinator, their colleague is a Resource Investigator and the person reporting to them is a Teamworker.

A challenging combination

It can be challenging when there is a Plant leading a team and the person reporting to them is a Shaper.  The Shaper tends to get frustrated because they feel like things aren’t moving fast enough.



In reality the roles are flexible and one person may fulfill several roles in a team. The balance required will differ with objectives and projects and even the phases.   

Give the balance of roles in your team some thought; be aware of where the gaps lie and where the strengths are, to help your team work together more cohesively and effectively.