Belbin: Team Roles

When Dr Meredith Belbin decided to investigate the way teams of executives tackled a team-oriented task at the Henley Management College in the 1960s, it is unlikely he expected the results to still be used all over the world 50 years later. However, the Belbin Team Roles model, finally published in his 1981 book ‘Management Teams’, is commonly used for identifying the roles individuals play in their teams and how these roles can be combined to maximise performance. 

The Model

Belbin defines a ‘team role’ as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way”. Therefore, by analysing how individuals workin team you can categorise them into one of the 9 roles assigned by Belbin. This first and foremost identifies what skills exist within a team and who has them. Once you have worked out your own role within a team, it is then important to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of others. Once the whole team has been categorised, you can then identify where gaps may exist within the team, as well as any duplicate roles. Belbin argues that duplicate roles carry as much danger as ones not being carried out, as they can lead to a waste of resources, high levels of stress and confusion.

How to use it

The idea of the model is not simply to categorise individuals into finite roles, but to give a platform to improve overall performance. This may be by filling in gaps, relocating the responsibilities of individuals with duplicate responsibilities or using complimentary roles to maximise team performance. The findings can be used to ensure in every team you have the correct balance of roles and skill-sets. The model could be used at a ‘team building day’, where team members are categorised into the profiles while doing an enjoyable task.


Belbin, R. M. (1993). Team Roles at Work. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1993. Print.

Belbin, R. M. (2010). Management Teams. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2010. Print.