Conflict Management: Using Team Mapping

June 9, 2009 Max Isaac

In our last post, we analyzed Team Grid’s Team Map.

This workshop team was very strong on the people-oriented roles: Resource Investigator, Coordinator, and Teamworker.

Of course, this isn’t how the roles always fall amongst team members.  Nine different team roles create an almost infinite number of possibilities for a team’s makeup.

Another workshop team from the E&J Gallo Winery in Modesto, California, “Team 5,5″, also had great results in the workshop exercises facilitated by Anton McBurnie (going from 25.4% to 41.5% Interaction Efficiency) after completing their Belbin Team Map:

Team 5,5's Team Map

Team Role Surpluses (Half or More Team Members):

  • Shaper
  • Completer Finisher
  • Note that both of these surpluses are around Action-Oriented Team Roles

Team Role Voids (No Team Members):

  • None!  With six team members it is likely that at least one team member will hold each role as one of their Preferred Roles (top 3 Belbin roles)

Potential Pitfalls:

  • This team could be prone to conflict due to the Shaper surplus.  Too many Shapers in one team can lead to conflict around goals and direction.  The challenging, hard-driving, and competitive nature of one Shaper creates motivation and direction for a team; when there are multiple Shapers, their outspoken personalities and differences of opinion around goals can lead to conflict.
  • Like Team Grid, this team also has a Completer Finisher surplus.  The need of the Completer Finishers to get the work done to their high standards could ironically lead to the work never getting completed, as the team constantly wants to review and revise to make sure the end result is perfect.

Suggested Actions:

  • An awareness of how the team dynamic will be influenced by Shaper conflicts will help the team to realize that if they set goals as a team, there does not need to be competition around the goals.  The Shapers should be aware of when they can best move into their other roles (for example, Jacky is a strong Completer Finisher, and can move away from the Shaper role, as there are already two strong shapers on the team).
  • As a Team Worker, Mike’s diplomacy skills and ability to read people will help diffuse any tense situations.
  • With such an even distribution around the nine team roles, it will be important to use each team role appropriately for each stage of a project.  (Stay tuned for a blog post about assigning work based upon Belbin Team Roles!)

What’s most important in team dynamics, is not the distribution of team roles within a team, but an awareness of how the team roles are distributed.  Through a Belbin Team Map exercise, teams can create their own Team Maps, as well as a set of groundrules for moving forward.

Would you like to know more about Belbin Team Maps?  To get your own team map, or to have your team map analyzed by our experts, feel free to send us your map or contact us at info@improvingteams.com.

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