We all adapt our behaviours at work to some extent, but are wise to do so only within our natural ‘bandwidth of credibility’. To move too far beyond that can see us lose authenticity and impact when it comes to how we contribute to our teams.
Projecting our behaviour to best effect in response to daily scenarios is akin to making use of the best available radio or phone signal, or using optimal ‘bandwidth’ in computing.
We operate best when we are working within the credible bandwidth of our own natural behavioural strengths, and with a good understanding of others within the team. Certain behavioural contributions are natural for us, some manageable and others least preferred and often best left to other team members.
When we try work outside of that optimal ‘natural’ zone of behavioural preference, or allow too much duplication to occur of certain behavioural styles within a team, we risk static, interference or system overload.
For optimal impact and personal engagement, the best course of action is to adapt within behaviours that are our natural strengths, and also making sure that we time them well. Timing the contribution of our strengths poorly, can at times undermine or even shut down those of others.
When we attempt to play team roles that we are not suited to, our least preferred roles, it can come across poorly to others. If we try to offer our natural behaviours that we have strength in with poor timing, or if they are already being provided in abundance, then we may also fail to make a clear contribution to our team or clash with others. Too much ‘like with like’ can also cause static. Collectively we risk bias creeping into our collective decision-making processes from such imbalances.
Relevent experts with technical signal and IT issues may do such things as selecting the right frequency, avoiding static and interference, increasing range and making use of the best available technologies.
We feel that such logic also applies to teamwork and leadership behaviours.
1 - Understand your own bandwidth
2 - Know how to avoid static and interference with others
3 - Adapt and expand you’re your own range
4 - Make use of the best available technology
Managing our own behaviour, and understanding that of others is the key.
1 – Understand your own behavioural bandwidth
Belbin’s 9 Team Roles help us to measure and understand how behavioural preferences impact real world performance. A Belbin profile helps to measure where our strongest, manageable and least preferred roles sit in the context of our current role and team.
There are ‘Thinking’, ‘Social’, and ‘Action’ oriented team roles. Each individual will have a unique profile that may feature elements of each, or sit heavily in one or other of those behavioural regions. Playing to our strengths, our strongest ‘frequencies’ if you like, helps us to make a clear contribution to our teams and also to the management and leadership roles that we play.
Many factors impact behavioural preferences. These include our IQ, EQ, current role constraints and a lifetime’s worth of experiences. Our emotional reactivity to external stimulus, buried within the brain’s limbic system, also plays a role in behaviour. The influences upon behaviour are thus truly varied and unique for each person.
Some behavioural team roles will come naturally to us, and others less so.
Whilst we may be able to play a wider range of roles under some low intensity situations, under pressure our bandwidths of natural, manageable and least preferred roles is more obvious (and if we don’t see it, others in our team certainly will). Here is where Belbin’s addition of 360 degree Observers for a profile adds lasting value.
2 – Avoiding static and interference with others
Surpluses or deficits of certain roles, or the intensity of how they are being played, can all result in ‘static’ and even outright interference with the behavioural frequencies and contributions of others.
It is important therefore to understand not only our own preferences, but also how those of others will impact us and the team, particularly when working under pressure. These underpin and fuel individual and collective biases in decision-making, relationship development and conflict.
Our ability to play our own role preferences well also has a context with those people that we currently work with. For example, if there are stronger natural examples of some of the roles we would usually prefer to play already present within a team, then our ability to credibly play them in that team may be reduced. Conversely, if we are the sole workable example of a role type within a team where there is otherwise none represented, we may appear far stronger to others in that role than we actually are.
Knowing our own strengths and weaknesses, and those of others, thus helps us to build complimentary working relationships that avert duplication, clashes and ‘wasted bandwidth’ within the team.
3 - Adapting and expanding our own range
Once we can better understand the impact of our own strengths and weaknesses, our behaviour can be better managed and adapted to suit the situations that arise. With enhanced awareness, we can then develop and adapt our repertoire of roles. This can help us to identify when we may be tempted or forced to act beyond them, and manage that for better outcomes.
Under pressure, we tend to revert to our natural underlying behavioural bandwidths whether we like it or not. We may not always be aware how our behaviours are being perceived within our team, which is why adding Observers / 360 in Belbin is so valuable for gaining insight into how others also see us.
Humans can certainly adapt their behaviour, but we need to take care that it is done credibly and in the context of that team. This can help us to naturally expand our range and behavioural repertoire over time, as long is it’s credible and anchord in what is natural for us.
4 - Make best use of behavioural technology
Just as we would aim to use the best possible technology for our IT or communications at work to enhance business performance, the same should be done for human behaviour at work.
Belbin offers the most robust behavioural technology in the form of its profiles and reports for measuring and understanding the ‘behavioural bandwidths and frequencies’ of individuals and teams at work.
Evidence-based insight helps us to better ‘tune in’ to the impact that we and our team mates have on day to day communication and performance.
Put simply, be yourself, just a well-understood and well-managed version at work.
Lower levels of performance and engagement come when we work beyond our natural strengths for too long.
Optimal team performance is achieved when each member is allowed to operate within the right bandwidths of their own natural behavioural strengths. To avert overloading available bandwidth capacities of other team members and the total team, avoiding too much duplication of similar behavioural styles can also be useful. Balance is to be aspired to.
Balance beats intellect and individual skill when it comes to team performance. Where team members represent a balance of thinking, action and social behaviours, and make well-timed use of that balance, collective IQ goes up. Imblance, irrespective of the individual talent of the members, can make the collective IQ drop.
Be yourself, just the best managed version of yourself within the natural behavioural bandwidths of credibility that you have.
For more information see www.Belbin.com.au
Sample definitions of bandwidth for signals and computing:
Signal Processing - Bandwidth, for a system: the range of frequencies over which the system produces a specified level of performance.
Computing – The rate of available or consumed information capacity. The actual bit rate that can be achieved depends not only on the signal bandwidth, but also on the noise on the channel.