We know that Belbin can help to improve team performance. But can one use Belbin Team Role Theory in all situations?
Well, for starters, a Belbin Assessment can’t make a cup of coffee.
But seriously, there are limitations to using the Belbin Team Role Assessment:
1. Specifically designed for teams
The information that you can learn from completing a Belbin Assessment can be useful at three levels: personal development, team development, and culture change. However, the assessment is used to measure your behaviors when working with a team. This can be on a one-to-one or a one-to-many basis, but always reflects how you work with other people.
2. Designed to be used in a work setting
Belbin Team Role Theory can be used to predict team performance when used in a work setting. The extensive research behind the Belbin Assessment applies to using Belbin within a work setting, not at home or in a social setting. (We tend to see people behaving in similar ways at home as they do at work, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
3. Measures behaviors, not personality
A person cannot only be measured by their team-related behaviors. There are several other factors that are a part of a person’s makeup, including personality. The Belbin Assessment is not a psychometric instrument, and therefore does not measure personality attributes. However, Belbin can be used to find clusters of behaviors (which form the Belbin Team Roles), which if effectively deployed in a team will result in improvements in team performance.
If you need to make an important decision in your organization, it is crucial to use other decision-making factors along with Belbin.
4. Has a Cultural Bias:
The research that established Belbin Team Role Theory has mainly focused on upper-management level executives in Britain. In Britain in the ’70s, when Dr. Meredith Belbin was doing his foundational research, these executives would be middle-class white men. This is not to say that Belbin cannot be applied to other cultures, but the original research focused on a specific demographic.
Therefore, how can you use Belbin best?
- Discover patterns of behavior in a work setting
- Receive non-defensive feedback from observers (the Belbin Assessment uses adjectives and retains observer confidentiality)
- Increase coherence between how you see yourself and how others see you
- Uncover hidden talents and strengths
- Quickly see the dynamics and composition of a team (especially useful for new managers, project teams, and virtual teams)
- Increase team performance through an understanding of how the team roles are distributed among team members
- Become more effective by playing to your strengths
Do you see other limitations to using Belbin Team Role Theory in your organization? Have your say in the comments below.
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