THURSDAY THOUGHTS! - Is it the era of the "Teamworker"?

Posted by | June 20, 2013 | Thursday Thoughts | No Comments

abdicationAbdication is currently fashionable – so it seems.  In Belbin terms, is it the era of Teamworkers?  Lets look at each Belbin role, one a week for the time being, and interpret it in the context of whatever is happening this week.

There have been some notable abdicators in the past.  But they aren’t all Teamworkers! Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has done it; the Pope did it for the first time in Vatican history; even Alex Ferguson recently handed over his long-held crown.  Last night The Apprentice adopted the trait, and we saw the sacking of Jason Leech who abdicated his Project Manager role for the “good of the team’s success” but in the face of a clear case of extreme-Shaper-bullying.  Teamworkers are diplomatic, popular and routinely avert friction. They are sensers and always try to please other people’s needs. That was certainly Jason’s motivation for his abdication last night.

Teamworkers will make other colleagues feel better about being dumped on or being hurt by something another has said.  We saw this in action last night as Jason articulated why he was buckling to Luisa’s (Shaper?) techniques.  Every team needs a Teamworker, but are they exploited and can they reach the leadership heights of being the Number One?

Do you see abdication as a noble gesture in certain circumstances, or do you see it as the easy way out of an uncomfortable scenario?  However you see it, will say something about your preferred Belbin Team Role, how you fit into any team and what your preference for the role you play within it, is.

In a professional world, this is closely related in my view, to how people are valued for what they are doing.  I’ve seen it many times: extroverts who require fast and timely feedback as to how they are doing will, under severe stress, pick up their teddies and walk if they feel unrecognised and undervalued for their personal contributions.  Feeling valued is a KEY INDICATOR of job performance after all.

Teamworkers are people oriented, so they feel valued when they receive recognition for looking after things: feelings; people; tasks etc. They are popular folk, very capable in their own right but tend to prioritise team cohesion and helping people get along over anything else.  They have tendencies of being indecisive, and are often uncommitted during discussions and decision making.  Sounds like a Jason description doesn’t it?  They are NOT weak people, never make that misinterpretation.

Shapers are action oriented people who feel frustrated in the absence of action.  They are hugely challenging individuals, extroverted, and constantly question the norm, often highly argumentative and they see themselves as courageous in pushing forward in circumstances where others feel like stopping – we certainly saw this last night.  They often offend others feelings yet fail to see it happening in a haze of their own red mist.  Very much Luisa – professional maturity and lifelong learning can (and will) temper this.  It’s usually called “experience”.

Upon his sacking, Jason quoted Nietzsche by saying: “when you’re battling with monsters, be sure you don’t become a monster yourself.”  I loved this because it says much for his Teamworker traits in how he sees Shapers.  There is no room for monsters in the workplace – Shapers need to learn self awareness and more than anything else, value team diversity and what others bring, but most of all be able to be adaptive to situations in order to bring the best out in others, not to walk all over them.

If you want to learn how to construct  and then manage a high performing team, recognising all the value the core but different role traits play in producing high performing teams, give us a call for a full Belbin analysis of your current team – and lets start turning that into a high performing team sooner rather than later: 01550 720902 / 07932 641313 will start that process today.

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Sharon Davidson
Organisational development professional specialising in personal, team and whole organisation improvement. Full range of OD tools and techniques available including: Belbin team role analysis; learning style inventories; 360 degree feedback; cultural assessments; personality psychometrics; strategic planning and workshop facilitation. (This list is not exhaustive!)

Improvement is everyone's concern: +44 1550 720902 will start that process today.

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  • Jo Keeler says:

    Hi – great article.

    The problem with the Apprentice is that it always highlights the non-allowable weaknesses of Shapers. In fact, some of the apprentices only show the non/allowable weaknesses, and this does not make them ‘a Shaper’! You have to display positive behavioural contributions too. A good example of a Shaper will not use bully tactics, or steam roll others. They will not allow the red mist to descend, or argue for the sake of it. They are there to give energy and a sense of direction to the team, and to challenge the status quo, when needed. Those that can do this without the need of a ‘power trip’ are worth finding.

    I didn’t see that episode, but it sounds like there were some good Teamworker behaviours being shown. However, we must be careful. Just because we don’t see a particular Team Role behaviour in ourselves doesn’t mean we shouldn’t value and respect it. Can Teamworkers reach the “leadership heights of being the Number One”? I think so. Nelson Mandela is a wonderful example.

    Look forward to the next article!
    (Must declare an interest: Director, Belbin!!)

  • Aresko says:

    Hi Jo, welcome! I soooo agree with you. But it was great to illustrate a point, no more than that, which then drives debate (for which, thankyou, for entering!). I’ve known some fab Shapers in my time, and some awful ones too. As always, its merely illustrative not definitive. The fab ones are the more self aware ones (in my view) – the ones who know their impact on others, particularly on teamworkers. I love observing the dynamics. What a fantastic example of a Number One Teamworker you have! Mine is always Rosa Parks.
    I also must declare an interest (Belbin Accredited!)

  • Jo Keeler says:

    And I think you illustrated the point perfectly! In true RI style, may I steal your Rosa Parks example? I look forward to seeing how the other Team Roles are portrayed in The apprentice – I can’t watch it as I shout at the TV too much!

  • Aresko says:

    Thanks Jo! From one RI to another, of course you can 🙂 Feel free.

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