Explanations

Support for Belbin team building

Penny Brooks

8th June 2017

Here is a reportfrom Dylan Minor, a professor of managerial economics at Kellogg university in the US and Michael Housman of HiQ Labs, which emphasises the value of building work teams from people displaying complementary experiences and strengths, rather than from people who bring similar experiences to the rest of the group - echoing the work of Belbin. They say that this will have a significant positive influence not only on the output of the team as a whole, but also by raising the performance of each member of the team - and that groups who are working in close proximity to each other, within the same offices, see a much greater benefit than those that are working remotely. They found this to be of particular benefit to start-ups who need to unlock potential as fast as possible in order to establish their business.

They tried pairing people with complementary skills of productivity (how quickly they could get the job done) and quality (accuracy in their work), and found that each improved in their weaker areas because of the influence of stronger colleagues. They also found that, if the pair was then separated, the positive influence was quickly lost, so there is a real benefit from establishing and then retaining such teams.

They also studied the impact of so-called 'toxic' people - defined as those who engage in highly negative behaviour — such as sexual harassment or stealing the company’s property - and found that they created a risk of others starting to behave in the same way. However, again, as soon as the toxic colleague was removed, the spillover effect on others disappeared.

So the conclusion is that, not only do businesses need to identify and weed out the negative influences, but to find and put together people who are 'symbiotic pairings' in order to maximise potential and boost performance.

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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