Belbinís Team Role Theory

Source: West M (1994) Effective Teamwork; The British Psychology Society

Based on research with over 200 teams conducting management business games at the Administrative Staff College, Henley, in the UK, Belbin identified nine team types. Almost always people have a mix of roles and will have dominant and sub-dominant roles.

Co-ordinator Resource Investigator Team Worker
Shaper Company Worker/ Implementer Completer finisher
Plant Monitor/Evaluator Specialist


The co-ordinator is a person-oriented leader. This person is trusting, accepting, dominant and is committed to team goals and objectives. The co-ordinator is a positive thinker who approves of goal attainment, struggle and effort in others. The co-ordinator is someone tolerant enough always to listen to others, but strong enough to reject their advice. The co-ordinator may not stand out in a team and usually does not have a sharp intellect.


The shaper is a task-focused leader who abounds in nervous energy, who has a high motivation to achieve and for whom winning is the name of the game. The shaper is committed to achieving ends and will Ďshapeí others into achieving the aims of the team. He or she will challenge, argue or disagree and will display aggression in the pursuit of goal achievement. Two or three shapers in a group, according to Belbin, can lead to conflict, aggravation and in-fighting.


The plant is a specialist idea maker characterised by high IQ and introversion while also being dominant and original. The plant tends to take radical approaches to team functioning and problems. Plants are more concerned with major issues than with details. Weaknesses are a tendency to disregard practical details and argumentativeness.

Resource Investigator

The resource investigator is the executive who is never in his room, and if he is, he is on the telephone. The resource investigator is someone who explores opportunities and develops contacts. Resource investigators are good negotiators who probe others for information and support and pick up otherís ideas and develop them. They are characterised by sociability and enthusiasm and are good at liaison work and exploring resources outside the group. Weaknesses are a tendency to lose interest after initial fascination with an idea, and they are not usually the source of original ideas.

Company worker/ implementer

Implementers are aware of external obligations and are disciplined, conscientious and have a good self-image. They tend to be tough-minded and practical, trusting and tolerant, respecting established traditions. They are characterised by low anxiety and tend to work for the team in a practical, realistic way. Implementers figure prominently in positions of responsibility in larger organisations. They tend to do the jobs that others do not want to do and do them well: for example, disciplining employees. Implementers are conservative, inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities.

Monitor evaluator

According to the model, this is a judicious, prudent, intelligent person with a low need to achieve. Monitor evaluators contribute particularly at times of crucial decision making because they are capable of evaluating competing proposals. The monitor evaluator is not deflected by emotional arguments, is serious minded, tends to be slow in coming to a decision because of a need to think things over and takes pride in never being wrong. Weaknesses are that they may appear dry and boring or even over-critical. They are not good at inspiring others. Those in high level appointments are often monitor evaluators.

Team worker

Team workers make helpful interventions to avert potential friction and enable difficult characters within the team to use their skills to positive ends. They tend to keep team spirit up and allow other members to contribute effectively. Their diplomatic skills together with their sense of humour are assets to a team. They tend to have skills in listening, coping with awkward people and to be sociable. sensitive and people oriented. They tend to be indecisive in moments of crisis and reluctant to do things that might hurt others.

Completer finishers

The completer finisher dots the iís and crosses the tís. He or she gives attention to detail, aims to complete and to do so thoroughly. They make steady effort and are consistent in their work. They are not so interested in the glamour of spectacular success. Weaknesses, according to Belbin, are that they tend to be over anxious and have difficulty letting go and delegating work.


The specialist provides knowledge and technical skills which are in rare supply within the team. They are often highly introverted and anxious and tend to be self-starting, dedicated and committed. Their weaknesses are single-mindedness and a lack of interest in other peoplesí subjects