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Essential Roles In Teams That Deliver

Posted on January 11th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence


In previous posts we’ve looked at the Team Role Framework described by UK researcher Meredith Belbin. This will be the last installment in the series.

Below are the final three roles of Belbin’s Team Role Framework, which we’ve not yet looked at in any of the posts so far. These three are at least as important as the previous six, and essential for any high-performing R&D team.

These three fit together in my mind, because they all act to keep the team on track. They’re essential in teams who are looking to hit targets, deliver solutions/products and not get distracted along the way.

The Monitor Evaluator

If there’s a Monitor Evaluator on your team, you probably know about it. They’re usually the one who takes a lot of convincing about the merits of ideas. They’re serious, prudent and can be slow to make decisions.

Monitor Evaluators are more able than most to look objectively at a decision before them. They have capacity to take all factors into account and, more often than not, make good decisions. Monitor Evaluators are very good at weighing up evidence, and do not often make intuitive decisions. They tend to remain emotionally-detached from an idea when considering it’s merit.

In R&D teams, it’s often the Monitor Evaluators that temper the ideas and excitement of others. They tend to keep the more creative or emotionally invested team members on track in objectively moving towards a goal. People in this role are the ones who will make sure that the solution(s) being pursued will not only work, but also that they will solve the right problem.

The Teamworker

People taking on the role of Teamworker are those who hold everyone else together. Sometimes compared to the lubricating oil in a car engine, they’re the ones who keep everything (and everyone) else working in sync.

Especially in a technical context, teamworkers can be overlooked. But they form an essential part of any well performing team. They tend to be flexible and able to adapt to different situations. Usually good communicators, teamworkers are often diplomatic and caring. They are motivated by a desire to avoid conflict and to create harmony in the team. While that usually makes them popular and well-liked team members, it can inhibit their ability to make difficult decisions on their own.

Where there is plenty of potential for conflict between people taking on some of the different roles, the teamworker sits in between, and alongside, to make sure everyone keeps pulling in the same direction.

The Completer Finisher

As you’d expect from that name, the Completer Finishers are those who see things through to the end. Usually detail oriented, they strive for perfection and like to get the end of tasks with no errors.

Completer Finishers hit deadlines, and produce high quality work. They can be reluctant to delegate or trust their work to other team members though, for fear of the work falling short of their own high standards.

In an R&D team, Completer Finishers can be relied on to help keep projects on track. They’re less easily swayed by new ideas or lines of enquiry than those in some of the other roles. Completer Finishers tend to be more interested in delivering projects on time and on cost, sticking to agreed deadlines.

We Need All Nine

Although I see people in these three roles as the “glue” holding together successful R&D teams, these are no more and no less important that those taking on the other six roles.

High performing teams need members who are able, and willing, to take on all of the nine roles. If nothing else, I hope this series will help you to notice the roles you most readily or most often take on, as well as those of your colleagues.

While sometimes team members naturally balance so that all of the roles are covered, perhaps more often, it takes people to be intentional about flexing to meet the needs of the team. Perhaps a useful question to be asking is: “What are the roles I could take on, but am not currently, which nobody else in this team is fulfilling?”

You might be surprised at how many teams don’t have all nine of the roles covered, and how much more effective they tend to become when people are able to flex to take on different roles.



All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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