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Teams part 1


An individual carries out behaviours but an individual only has a finite amount of skills and time.
A team can have greater depths of skills and experiences and by carrying out tasks in parallel can utilise time better (see The Complete Time Management package).

A well run team can be greater than the sum of its parts.

A good team leader will have a good understanding of those within the team.
By finding out what your team needs to perform well, rather than dictating requirements, it should run better.

When you consider a team it is more than just a few core members that are directly responsible for a schedule of tasks.
You may need to consider the motivation of those on the periphery, for example, secretarial staff and technical help.
Indirect team members can definitely affect overall team performance.

Motivation of teams often includes bonding exercises where teams attend specialist courses on neutral territory.
After a week or two everyone is expected to know everyone a lot better supposedly cementing relations and improving team performance.
This may create a little improvement in cooperation in the short term but rarely has any long term benefits.

Bruce Tuckman

One of the key team building techniques developed in 1965 by Bruce Tucker was summarised by the memorable phrase Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.

In its simplest form it is characterised by a 4 stage model.

Stage 1 - Forming

There is high dependence on a leader for guidance and direction.
There is little agreement on team aims other than those received from the leader.
Individual roles and responsibilities are unclear. The leader must be prepared to answer lots of questions about the team's purpose, objectives and external relationships. Processes are often ignored. Members test the tolerance of the system and the leader.

Team members have some initial discomfort with each other but nothing comes out in the open.
They are insecure about their role and position with respect to the team.

Basically, the leader directs. This may be known as the 'Telling' mode.

The other stages are covered in more detail elsewhere (see The Complete Leadership package).

Others have also put forward team working theories.
For example:

Morgan Scott-Peck

From 1990 Morgan Scott-Beck took these ideas a step further in his book ‘A Different Drum: Community Making and Peace’ by considering team dynamics in a spiritual manner.
He considers the group as a ‘community’ rather than as a traditional ‘team’.

He says that community has three essential ingredients:

  • Inclusivity
  • Commitment
  • Consensus

Based on his experience with community building workshops, Scott Peck says that community building typically goes through 4 stages.
Again this is covered in more detail elsewhere (see The Complete Leadership package).

Meridith Belbin

Dr R Meredith Belbin's 1981 book 'Management Teams' put forward conclusions from his work studying how members of teams interacted during business games. Amongst his key conclusions was the proposition that an effective team has members that cover nine key roles in managing the team and how it carries out its work.

This may be separate from the role each team member has in carrying out the work of the team.

Belbin considered that an effective business management team could be created by testing members' IQ scores the higher the better.
However, comparing the high IQ group with the control group, he found that the highly intelligent team had lower productivity and lower effectiveness.

He identified that the high IQ team had a number of weaknesses:

  • Members were only concerned with their own ideas, and not with collaborating on each other's
  • Discussions tended to focus on identifying flaws in other team members' ideas and work
  • Vital activities in the self-management of the group were not being done

Collectively, the above observations were termed The Apollo Syndrome.
Belbin then identified eight roles that have to be filled within a team in order for it to function effectively.
He later added a ninth, Specialist (1988), which wasn't identifiable through the original Henley experiments.

If you possessed a team containing all of these roles it would not necessarily provide greater efficiency or motivation.

These key roles were identified as:


Can be unpredictable and unorthodox a creative problem solver. Possible easily bored with poor communication skills.
The Plant is the team mate who comes up with strange and innovative solutions to problems.
They will often work alone until they get that special idea.
A bit of an absent minded professor.

Resource Investigator

Good at communication and initiating events.
Enjoys pursuing contacts and opportunities.
Great at networking and not afraid to ask questions to get things done.
Show enthusiasm but easily distracted onto something new.


Often chair meetings confidently. They are self assured and good coordinators.
They can often see the big picture.
They are good delegators and stable and mature.
Good at clarifying decisions.
Can often be seen as controlling.


A can-do attitude and a go getter. A dynamic person.
Encourages and cajoles teams to get through problems and may lose his or her temper in the process.
Provokes action.
They love pressure and a challenge.
Can be less than sensitive to the feelings of others in the pursuit of getting things done.

Monitor Evaluator

Has good judgement and evaluates well.
Has a good appreciation of the overall strategy.
Is not necessarily inspiring or charismatic.
Fair and even handed and can detach themselves from influence.
Can be a little mechanical.


Helps everyone to get along. Reduces tensions, listens, arbitrates.
Good diplomats and tend to reduce conflicts.
Helps the team to understand another's point of view.
Perceptive and intuitive.
Probably not a leader or a good decision maker owing for a need to be friends to all.


Makes things happen with an efficient and steady manner.
Good organisers and well disciplined often finding it hard to change tack.
Can be inflexible.
Capable of translating ideas into action.
Good sense of producing on time.

Completer Finisher

Hardworking and meticulous.
Poor at delegation and is concerned about deadlines so tends to meet them.
Can be a perfectionist.
Often make that extra effort to get things done.
They will be absolutely thorough.
Attention to detail may be a source of irritation to other team members.
They have a strong sense of duty to get things done come what may.


They have specialist skills and knowledge and are not team players.
They have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Can get lost in the details of their work.

Teams often seem to perform better owing to a build up of experiences over time.
Experience builds confidence and motivation to reach goals.
Good management and leadership (see The Complete Leadership package) skills also apply to team activities

  • Encourage people to speak for themselves don’t put words into their mouths or speak on their behalf.
  • Whenever possible decisions should be by consensus.
  • Deal with any disruptive issues as soon as possible.
  • Be clear and open about problems.
  • Don’t put down others and recognise contributions.
  • Encourage cooperation and a reduction of competition.