An allowed weakness! Yes, really!
We all been through one appraisal too many and most predictably, any formal of appraisal be it bell curve or long tail approach. There is this one page, screen,or section devoted to strengths and weaknesses. To warm up to the plot further I’ve been in one team building/ understanding training too many. NLP, transaction Analysis, Gallup. Then, this one training came along that really gave me wings. And that’s, Belbin.
Now, let me pause for a second, I’m not on a training bashing spree. I’m all praise for each one.
Belbin has an edge. Let’s explore how come.
- Simplicity: Like all things profound, Belbin at its heart, is astonishingly simple. The typical Belbin workshop doesn’t demand an eidetic memory or mind-mapped notes. The positioning of 9 team roles is intuitive, easy to assimilate and demonstrate. The approach is something like this – Say, I enjoy making and nurturing connections, the sort whose contacts directory is always pushing the phone memory to limits. Belbin would forgive my not having an eye for detail. All of us are not endowed with the same capabilities and in just that right quantity and proportion. Nevertheless, when you make a team, you need the right blend of all capabilities. You can’t pack a team with only thinkers. Or only nurturers. Or all action heroines/heroes. This is just a simplistic peek into the 9 amazing team roles.
- Easy to recall structure: The 9 Team Roles are distributed across three broad behavior groups – Task, Thinking and Team, making the structure, at once, compact, easy to recall and quickly usable
- Fun to use: When putting Belbin to use you simply size up the person based on strengths demonstrated in work behavior. This helps you make instant adjustments to that Team Role, promoting effective work relationships. For instance, if I am going to a boss for a business case approval, knowing she is a Monitor Evaluator(ME) helps me ensure that it’s not just the highlights I share but I pack as much detail as possible to impress the ME. Of course, I will quietly take help from another ME colleague to create my slides!
- Unlocks synergies: Once this becomes my default perspective in approaching people and team issue, I start unlocking synergies using the Team Roles. This brings teams closer, makes conversations productive and stress-free and ultimately gets better business results. I wish I had discovered Belbin earlier than I did. My years of working with Belbin perspective has made me way more effective than I ever dreamed possible. Just that one lesson – “We are comfortable with people who are like us but we are effective when we team up with those who are different” is worth its weight in gold. The biggest pay off is a dramatically improved understanding of self and team
- No best-before date: Belbin has stood the test of time. That’s because it is the outcome of decades of rigorous research and a continuing quest for application improvements
Good for all areas of life
If you thought Belbin is something you use only at work, think again. Belbin is surprisingly effective in personal life as well. The next time my wife points out my litany of flaws she never seems to exhaust, I will pull a Belbin one-liner on her – ‘But honey, those are allowable weaknesses for all the strengths you chose me for, and cross my fingers and heart that my implacable ME soulmate will start accepting the scatterbrained creativity of the Plant in me.
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