Internships and other work experiences
Internships and other work experiences

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Internships and other work experiences

2.3 Teamwork

It is likely that in most work experience scenarios you will be interacting with other people in a team environment and it can be useful to have an idea of the role you naturally fall into. Effective teams need a range of roles and no one is more important than any other.

A commonly used description of the different roles within a team was developed by Dr Meredith Belbin in the 1970s. A summary of the nine roles is presented in Table 1 (Belbin, no date) but more detailed information can be found on the Belbin website (see Further reading for details).

Table 1 Belbin’s nine team roles

Resource investigator:

Uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team. 

Teamworker:

Helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.

Coordinator:

Needed to focus on the team's objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.

Plant:

Tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.

Monitor Evaluator:

Provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team's options in a dispassionate way.

Specialist:

Brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team.

Shaper:

Provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.

Implementer:

Needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.

Completer Finisher:

Most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.

(Belbin, no date)

Which one(s) sound most like you? There may be more than one that feels like a fit. Understanding your natural role in a team should help you to identify potential strengths and weaknesses and work with others more effectively. For example, if you are a ‘teamworker’ you might feel uncomfortable making unpopular decisions, whereas a ‘completer finisher’ could be accused of being a perfectionist.

Understanding the roles of others will give you an insight into why people act and react in the way they do.

It is possible to undertake a Belbin team roles test via the Belbin website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . There is a charge, but they will send you a discount code once you sign up. If you are currently in work, it might be worth investigating whether your employer already uses Belbin, as they may already pay a subscription fee and have access to the materials.

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