What a teamwork is about

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What a teamwork is:

We spend a great deal of time within groups of one sort or another. We may describe a team as a group who feel energised by their ability to work together. Teams work together to make maximum use of the experience and ability of each member in order to reach the team’s goals.

Teamwork consists of the tasks that members of the group perform to meet group goals.

Team roles are the behaviour patterns which must be shown by team members. These are needed for getting the work done and maintaining the group as a cohesive unit. Within any group there will be several different TEAM ROLES required for the group to achieve its objectives. If these team roles are not acknowledged and accepted then the effectiveness of the group will be diminished.

Dr. R Meredith Belbin (M Belbin, Management Teams, Heinemann) of the Henley School of Management has identified several key roles of successful groups. He believes that a balanced team, in terms of these roles, can be considerably more productive than teams which are imbalanced.

A man may accomplish almost anything today, if he just sets his heart on doing it and lets nothing interfere with his progress.

Team implementer

The implementer tends to be conservative and practical, and have a high degree of organising ability, together with strong self-discipline. Another positive feature of this type is that they are not easily discouraged. The weakness of the role are inflexibility and a blinkered approach.

Chairperson/ co-ordinator

The chairperson tends to be confident and trusting, and his or her personality is characterised by calmness, self-control and self-confidence. A strong sense of objectives is felt and all potential contributors are dealt with fairly. An allowable weakness is that this type tends to hog the floor, compete with other members and be rather rigid in outlook.


The shaper has a high need for achievement and tends to be anxious, outgoing and dynamic. Other qualities include a readiness to challenge complacency, ineffectiveness or self-deception. On the negative side, this type is prone to impatience, irritation and provocation. There may be a tendency to ‘steamroll’ others.


Individuality, serious-mindedness, unorthodoxy and self-sufficiency are the features of the plant. They tend to have high levels of imagination, intellect and knowledge. They are open to new ideas and approaches and are highly creative. Some may be at the genius end of the spectrum. A problem with plants is that they tend to have their heads in the clouds and disregard convention and practical details.


The specialist is a single-minded, self-starting person who provides knowledge of technical skills in rare supply. A potential drawback is that he or she may only contribute on a narrow front.

Everyone really wants to do something, but there are few that will put forward the needed effort to make the necessary sacrifice to secure it.

Resource investigator

Enthusiasm, curiosity, extroversion and communication are characteristic of this type of person. They have a capacity for contacting people and exploiting anything new, and are well able to respond to a challenge. Unfortunately, they tend to be unreliable and lose interest once the initial fascination has gone.


This type tends to be the critic; the sober, objective and prudent judge. The monitor can also be tactless and demotivating, however.

Team worker

As the name implies, this type is the team builder; socially oriented and sensitive. The team worker promotes team spirit and trust. On the other hand, he or she may be indecisive and take the team’s side unrealistically.


The completer is characterised by a painstaking, orderly and conscientious approach. There is a high degree of perfectionism and everything is thoroughly checked. The negative side of this type is the worrier who is reluctant to let go.

Role preference

Dr Belbin has devised a test to ascertain individual role preference. Some organisations use this test in selection or in training programmes to try to get a balanced work team, for example, are as evenly balanced as possible. The test may be found in his book referred to earlier.

Can you identify some of the roles outlined above from your experience of working within groups? Please write them the comment box below.

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