Here's a Quick Way to Identify & Fix Team Problems

May 5, 2009 Max Isaac

The photo below is of a Belbin Team Map that was done as a part of one of our April workshops.  The instructor, Anton McBurnie, had the team create their own Team Map on a flipchart.

Each team member has a column in which to write their ranking of team roles.  The preferred roles (1, 2, and 3) are written in green, while the least preferred roles (7, 8 and 9) are written in red.

As you can see, this is a quick and visual way to discover when you’re missing a team role (a team role void), or when you have too many of one team role (a team role surplus).

Team Map - Workshop - April 2009

This team’s void occurs in the Shaper role: no team member has Shaper as one of their preferred roles.  In fact, everyone but Evonne has Shaper as his or her very least preferred role (ranked #9).

Shapers are focused on goals and results.  With no Shapers on the team, it is possible that the team may experience a lack of focus and drive to get things done.

Evonne’s Shaper ranks as #5, one of her manageable roles.  Evonne can flex into playing this role when needed, but both Evonne and the team should be careful to remember that playing a manageable role too often can be stressful.

This team also has a surplus of the Monitor Evaluator and Completer Finisher roles. Too many Monitor Evaluators can mean that the team gets stuck in “analysis paralysis”: spending way too much time analyzing options.  A surplus of Completer Finishers can lead to never getting things done, as the standards could be too high to ever attain!

Through a quick analysis of surpluses and voids, the team can realize their potential pitfalls, and avoid them before they even happen! This is a great activity to do with any team, and can quickly give you an idea of how the team will work together.

We like to use Team Maps whenever we create new project teams.  If we’ve identified a void, we either flex to fill the gap, or bring in someone from outside the team when they are needed.  When we have a team role surplus, we identify which team member will move to one of their other preferred roles, and wear another hat for the day.

Would you like us to analyze your team’s Team Map? Feel free to send it to us as a photo or electronic document (we often use excel), and we’ll post some of the maps we receive here along with a complimentary analysis.  You can email us anytime at

If you’re interested in finding out more:

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