Chris Brown, coach and trainer explores how Belbin’s Team Roles apply beyond work teams and helps explain why ‘rock and roll’ can be such a volatile business!
In my professional work as a coach and training consultant I have been using Belbin for many years supporting leaders in building and developing their work teams. What is amazing about the Team Roles is how you then notice them in situations beyond the workplace. Take Heavy Metal, or more specifically the Black Sabbath Tribute band I play guitar in!
Over the years I have been in many bands, playing different types of music. In some bands the mixture of people has worked well, but many have not. Let’s face it the music world and especially rock music can be particularly frenzied with bands forming, splitting, reforming and the countless solo careers!
Whilst I understood the circumstances that caused my previous bands to end, Belbin’s Team Roles provide a clear insight into why. Having two Shapers, Implementers or Plants in the same band can cause problems! Shapers are dynamic and challenging, but where there are two in a small group, whose ‘shape’ wins out may potentially cause friction and conflict. Implementers like to turn plans in positive action and get the work done. The challenge is that often the individual implementer is the one who knows the ‘best way’, which will clash with another implementer’s ‘best way’! Plants come up with the new ideas, and are very protective of their creativity, which can cause friction with other Plants of course (think Steve Jobs)!
Resource investigators are great networkers and communicators and will look for opportunities wherever they can. So a band without a Resource Investigator is not going to get many gigs!
However, my current band is a fantastic demonstration of the principles of Belbin and how the balance of Team Roles can create success. We are all experienced musicians and so have no need to interfere in each other’s’ team functions; in other words, I don’t tell the singer how to sing the songs and he doesn’t tell me how to play the guitar. This difference between team function and Team Role is reflected in the workplace.
For example, getting a band together, rehearsing, booking and promoting gigs, having working equipment and coordinating logistics successfully, all require each of us to play our Team Roles.
Our singer is a strong Resource Investigator and Shaper. He can be dynamic and provide drive, but is also brilliant at networking and booking the shows. The bass player is our Implementer and Completer Finisher; he puts our plans into practical action by organising the equipment and working on the sound until it is the best it can be. Our drummer is our Monitor Evaluator and Specialist, he doesn’t always say a lot but when he does we all take notice and act on it. What do I do? I am the Team Worker and Co ordinator. I book rehearsals, organise logistics, do a lot of the marketing materials and keep everyone in the loop regarding song choices.
So, we do not step on each other’s toes and we allow each other the space to deliver our natural and preferred Team Roles. Whilst we can all cross over and help each other out - I can of course phone a venue to chase a booking or set up part of the sound system - we tend to naturally play to our strengths.
Perhaps it is a step too far to get the music industry or X Factor to consider a Belbin course! However, like any team, the mix of people and skills is going to play a huge part in a band’s success. Whilst talent is obviously important, it will struggle to work if the Team Roles clash.
My current band is fortunate to have a mix of people and Team Roles that complement each other. This is driving our current success in providing a fitting tribute to the inventors of Heavy Metal – Black Sabbath!
For more information on how we can help your teams gel and thrive have a look at our workshops, self awareness tools and experiential team sessions or call us on 01903 732 782 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming from a strong business, training and coaching background Chris is a highly qualified executive coach and leadership and management trainer. Today's workplace needs strong leadership and Chris sees his mission as helping to develop today's managers into tomorrows leaders. In his spare time Chris plays guitar in a band. He also enjoys running and reading. https://uk.linkedin.com/in/chrisbrown0902