CoLab: Understanding the ‘ME’ in TEAM – Take the test

Making work during CoLab can be exhilarating, fun and also challenging. It’s all very well saying that it is all about process, but working together on something new in a mixed group is often not so straightforward. As CoLab approaches here are some thoughts on team working with thanks to James Wilson, head of the V&A leadership programme, who will be taking part in CoLab:

For twenty-five years Meredith Belbin’s book Management Teams has set the standard for how you can operate as a part of a team. Although this book is aimed at business management there is much that we can learn as creative artists from his research and what it has say.

teamwork blog photo

He identifies nine key role types that make up a balanced and effective team, these include the CO-ORDINATOR with the chairperson’s get-it-done approach, the RESOURCE INVESTIGATOR who brings contacts and context, the SHAPER who likes the challenge of pressure, the sober strategic EVALUATOR, the PLANT who is creative and on the edge with the bright idea, the TEAM WORKER who looks after the well-being of the group, the IMPLEMENTER who designs the systems with an analytical eye and the SPECIALIST who brings unique and specialised knowledge. With this mix a team can be highly effective and work in harmony.

Every person has a combination of these traits, which can be flexible and mobile depending on the task in hand. Understanding one’s strengths and roles can help the group become highly effective. Try taking the 5-minute Belbin test and see your team role profile:

So once you understand your team, how can your team be effective?

Set clear objectives – defined so everyone understands their steps in achieving a shared goal

Appropriate leadership – understanding of shared functions rather than acting out of formal roles

Suitable membership – A good team balance appropriate to the task

Commitment to the team – shared experience and values

Supportive team climate – working in a trustful environment

Getting things done – Knowing what it is doing and when it has achieved a goal

Working Techniques – The team invests in skills, rules and procedures

Learning – from each other

New Members – quickly integrated, supported and developed

Managing the group – the team monitors itself

Other teams – the ability to work with other groups

Success – how to build for the future, deal with expansion and learn to say no.


Joe Townsend

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