The cornerstone of a successful project is effective teamwork. A project manager or department head’s key responsibility is to identify the most appropriate team for a project that will maximise success.
Naturally, social compatility is important and conducive to teamwork, however what is critical is forming a team that is well-balanced. When selecting people for a team, a project manager needs to look at his or her employees’ individual skill sets and psychological traits to ensure that they are complementary. Of course, this requires a thorough and comprehensive understanding of their employees and their respective characteristics.
Team roles for successful projects
Meredith Belbin, a British management theorist, analysed teamwork and workplace culture and found that most successful projects cover nine team roles, each with distinct functions and characteristics.
The roles can be sub-categorised into three groups: thought-oriented roles, action-oriented roles, and people-oriented roles. While it is imperative that all nine roles are covered, not all teams must be comprised of nine people. Belbin says that most people can identify with 2-3 roles, and therefore can contribute in more ways than one.
Complementary skill sets are the foundation of good teamwork, as one person’s weakness can be balanced out with another person’s strength. For example, if a team consists of too many indecisive individuals that find it difficult to make tough decisions, then time will be wasted on excessive deliberation. Therefore, it is important that a team also has a personality like the Monitor Evalutor, that has good judgement and can make critical decisions. This will ensure that all options are carefully evaluated, but a decision is made when necessary.
Moreover, if a project has too many Shapers and Implementers, it could result in many heated arguments and conflicts. In this instance, a Teamworker would be required to intervene and mediate, to ensure the team works together harmoniously. If there is no Teamworker, then the project could easily fall apart due to personal differences.
Market Inspector UK created an infographic on these nine roles that need to be covered to maximise a project’s success.
By using Belbin’s nine team roles to form the most efficient team, a project can be maximised for success. Not only do these nine roles ensure a balanced and complementary team, it will also help the project manager foresee potential conflict by being aware of these roles’ respective strengths and allowable weaknesses.