Understanding behavioural strengths and weaknesses within teams, as opposed to just personality type, is the key to effective team performance.
Practical and evidence-based follow-on advice for managing those behaviours is then a powerful enabler for team success in the hands of individuals, managers and leaders.
We have recently heard many Learning and Development professionals referring to a wide variety of methods in terms of ‘Best Practice’, ‘Future Practice’ and ‘Predominant Practice’.
In a world that craves innovation in the quest to fully engage and retain a new generation, ‘Best Practice’ is rarely enough these days. Advancing science and insight can often see it left behind by the perceived innovators as dated or anachronistic.
Yet great care must be taken when trying to move too hastily towards ‘Future Practice’, as it brings with it the inherent risks of engaging in an appealing trend that may not work in reality. The desire to be seen as an innovative early adoptor, may see organisations adopt overly complex or overly simplified models and approaches that fail to deliver.
In contrast, we see ‘Predominant Practice’ as a safe method or technique anchored in experience, carrying the credibility of best practice, whilst also remaining integrative enough to incorporate future innovations.
Belbin’s model is just such a tool, and it deals in an evidence based way with what is actually occuring in the team, by measuring individual and collective behaviour. In our experience across thirty years of team and leadership development it is very much a reliable ‘predominant practice’.
We have seen many personality and psychometric tools come and go, yet Belbin remains solid, and evolving to suit the emerging organisational needs of clients in all fields.
Why has Belbin thrived for so long? Belbin measures behaviour rather than personality, and it does so on the back of over three decades indepth research, field testing and validation.
Personality is only one of many factors that can influence behaviour. Whilst personality is acknowledged to be fairly consistent, behaviour can be more readily adapted to suit changes in external factors.
Belbin belives that it is therefore behaviour that provides the most useful and verifiable information to an individual, manager or recruiter. It can be argued that only an individual can truly know their own personality, whereas behaviour can be readily observed and so more easily identified and predicted.
The Belbin Team Role Self Perception Inventory has been analysed at depth alongside other reliable measures such as the 16PF and OPQ. In their extensive Study ‘Aritzela, Swailes & Senior’ commented that:
“Taking empirical studies together, there is sufficient evidence that the team roles are valid and that independently of the instrument used to measure team roles, results are consistent with other reliable models. The team role model shows evidence for vailidity that cannot be disregarded. Knowing the type of association that a team role shows with individual cognitive styles, conflict managing behaviour and the other areas explored will help to better understand team dynamics and facilitate team building behaviours.”
Aritzela, Swailes & Senior
Ongoing refinements, updated reports and online scripting serve to make Belbin relevant and credible in the light of advancing theories of human behaviour. We have witnessed emerging behavioural science confirm the vailidity of Belbin’s Model and profiling tools.
Belbin’s initial observations and subsequent refinements continue to be validated globally by Belbin users. These users span leaders, teams and L&D professionals from corporate, government, defence, sporting, education and NGO across the globe and in some 20 languages.
Teachers and users of the Belbin Model include The United Nations, The Australian Army, The University of QLD, University of Sydney, ANU, Monash University, Berkeley, Columbia Business School, BMW, AGL, Pepsico, Siemens, Xerox, Novo Nordisk, The United States Marine Corps, Ambion, Rio Tinto, IBM and many more.
Belbin serves as a reliable ‘predominant practice’ for anyone seeking to better understand and work with people in the workplace.
In a confusing forest of models, personality tools and approaches that come and go, behavioural profiling using Belbin is an evergreen.