What is your team role?


Team work is one of the crucial skills employers recruit for as this skill indicates how smoothly and effectively a young person operates within a group.

Employers, however, also look for individuals who can bring different strengths to their teams. This because we all exhibit different team roles.

Through interactive workshops, to date I have worked with over 3,200 young people across the UK. That’s a lot of young people being asked to work as a part of the team to complete a range group exercises which require them to put together their resources to achieve a common goal.

I must admit that their fascinating interactions made me reflect upon the concept of teamwork many times. This is because young people demonstrate different team work abilities depending on the activity or group they are in!

This observation of mine is only an informal confirmation of the Belbin’s Team Role Theory rather than a new discovery but it is still amazing to watch it and use it in practice.


Meredith Belbin – British researcher and management specialist – is famous for establishing that for team’s effectiveness

what is needed is not well balanced individuals, but individuals who balance well with each other.

In other words, the individual skill or excellence of each team member does not predict team results but rather their tendency to interrelate and fit together. This tendency is known as your team role.

Belbin distinguished 9 team roles that fall into 3 categories:

  • Proffered roles – the most natural ones and the easiest to demonstrate
  • Manageable roles – not as easy but we can take them if needed
  • Least preferred roles – those areas that we really struggle with – we don’t enjoy doing it.


What is really fascinating and you can see live when working with young people, is that:

  • A young person might be more than one role type
  • A young person might assume different roles in different groups
  • A young person can take a role, even they are not familiar with it, if the group needs it.


The name is…They are described like…We hear them say…
ShaperA dynamic team-member who loves a challenge and thrives on pressure.


Just do it!

I may be blunt, but at least I am to the point.


Co-ordinatorEnsures that all members of the team are able to contribute to discussions and decisions of the team.Let’s keep the main objective in sight.

Has anyone else got anything to add to this?


PlantA creative team-member who solves difficult problems.


Where there’s a problem, there’s a solution.

Good ideas always seem strange at first

Resource InvestigatorThe networker for the group.


Never reinvent the wheel. Opportunities arise from other people’s mistakes.


Monitor-EvaluatorA sober, strategic and discerning member, who tries to see all options and judge accurately.


Let’s weigh up the alternatives.

I’ll think it over and give you a firm decision tomorrow.


ImplementerThe practical thinker who can create systems and processes that will produce what the team wants.


If it can be done, we will do it.

Hard work never killed anybody.


Completer FinisherThe detail person within the team. They have a great eye for spotting flaws and gaps and for knowing exactly where the team is in relation to its schedule.


The small print is always worth reading.

Murphy’s Law ‘If that can go wrong will go wrong’

There is no excuse for not being perfect.


Team WorkerConcerned to ensure that interpersonal relationships within the team are maintained.


I was very interested in your point of view.

You can always sense a good atmosphere at work.

Everybody has a good side worth appealing to.



Of course none of the described team roles are ideal. Each team role has certain strengths as well as areas of improvement. This is why only a balanced combination of all team roles brings the best results.


The name is…StrengthWeakness
ShaperChallenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure.

The drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Seeks patterns in group work; pushes group toward agreement and decisions; challenges others


Prone to provocation.

Offends people’s feelings


Co-ordinatorMature, confident, a good chairperson.

Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.


Can often be seen as manipulative.

Off loads personal work.

PlantCreative, imaginative, unorthodox.

Solves difficult problems


Too pre-occupied to communicate effectively


Resource InvestigatorExtrovert, enthusiastic, communicative.

Explores opportunities. Develops contacts.

Shares external information

Negotiates with outsiders


Over – optimistic.

Loses interest once initial enthusiasm has passed.


Monitor-EvaluatorSober, strategic and discerning.

Sees all options.

Judges accurately

Analyzes problems and complex issues

Monitors progress and prevents mistakes


Lacks drive and ability to inspire others.


ImplementerDisciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient.

Turns ideas into practical actions


Somewhat inflexible.

Slow to respond to new possibilities.


Completer FinisherConscientious.

Searches out errors and omissions.

Delivers on time.


Inclined to worry unduly.

Reluctant to delegate.


Team WorkerCo-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic.

Listens, builds, averts friction.

Gives personal support and help to others

Resolves conflicts; calms the waters; serves as an in-group diplomat


Indecisive in crunch situations.



From my experience, being aware of different team roles is very beneficial when working with young people. It allows you smoothly and effectively to:

  • Manage the group dynamics within the classroom
  • Provide teams with tasks that play to their strengths
  • Provide teams with tasks to challenge their weaknesses
  • Understand and manage the group conflicts
  • Build teams on the basis of team roles ensuring high effectiveness of completing projects and assignments
  • Prepare young people to perform effectively during group interviews and assessment days

Written by K Mitura

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