Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


Welcome to the Belbin FAQ section. We have listed answers to questions our customers often pose, so we hope you find them helpful and informative. If your question is not resolved here, please contact the Belbin office and we will be happy to help. We will update the page as new subjects come up.

Is Belbin a psychometric test?

No, not exactly. Psychometrics is concerned with assessing psychological variables such as intelligence, aptitude, and personality traits.

Belbin is concerned with behaviour: what others in your team see and feel. Whilst this may be shaped by your personality, this is not the sole component.

Furthermore, the behaviour assumed may not correspond with what others observe. Whereas numerous psychometric tests rely on self-reporting, the Belbin appraisal uses 360° feedback to give you an exact idea of how you fit in your team.

What can be realized by discovering people's Team Roles?

It is simpler to work effectively with individuals when you are given some expectations of their inclinations and penchants. Self- and Observer Assessments give a greater understanding of how an individual acts in a group situation.

What are Observer Assessments?

Your Belbin Self-Perception profile (SPI) gives you an estimation of how you see your role within a team. Still, the features you discover may not be the behaviour that others would pinpoint or measure.

The Belbin Observer Assessment (OA) returns 360-degree feedback on a person's Team Roles. The OA should be completed by those who work or have worked recently with the individual they are asked to evaluate. For a full written report, a minimum of four Observers is required, but six is preferable. Ideally, a set of observers should be chosen from among colleagues, reports and managers who are familiar with the individual’s demeanor and know the person well in a work environment. When filling out profiles, candidates may choose their own observers or the allocation can be formed by the facilitator or trainer. The OA is fashioned to inform and broaden the Self-Perception profile and should take 5-10 minutes to complete.

When filling out the OA, observers are free to check as many items as they think are relevant. Try to ensure that no more than one-half of the phrases are ticked, since a tick indicates that the feature in question is more conspicuous in the person concerned than in the average person. If observers think the candidate has a certain feature in abundance, then the word should receive two ticks. If there is any uncertainty of the word’s relevancy to the person, it is best not to tick it at all. The checklist of adjectives – 45 positive and 27 negative – is used to provide an unbiased appraisal of Team Role behaviour, with each word relating to a unique role. Each assessment alters the Team Role status of the observed candidate to produce an overall Team Role profile.

If an Observer Assessment is completed in an indiscriminate fashion, or if an observer presents extreme prejudice, either in favour of, or against, the observed, e-interplace® will not accept the assessment.

Why use Observer Assessments?

Observer Assessments provide unbiased evidence about an individual’s team roles. A Self-Perception test is dependent on an individual’s sense of personal realism. Some individuals answer in terms of how they would like to contribute, rather than how they actually behave.

Do Team Roles switch?

Team Roles develop during the course of a career. Whilst it is rare for someone’s Team Role profile to reverse completely, it is subject to transfer. Certain roles could grow as a result of experience and calculated attention, or circumstantially – in response to the requirements of a new job or promotion, for instance.

Should I let people know my desired Team Roles?

Sharing your Team Role preferences heightens understanding and gives members of the team reasonable expectations of one other, helping to avoid disappointments and misapprehensions.

What is an 'Allowable Weakness'?

Sometimes the strength of a certain Team Role has to be bought at the cost of a Team Role weakness. For example, a person whose preferable function is Monitor Evaluator is likely to be objective, dispassionate and effective at counting up all possibilities to make a carefully studied decision. Yet someone with these strengths may well come across as unenthusiastic or even dull. Without Team Role savvy, this failure to inspire the team might be allowed to cloud the individual’s strong points. Team Role weaknesses can be comprehended as the price to be paid for the strength, and as such, they are termed “Allowable”.

What is a 'Team Role sacrifice'?

In many settings, an individual will need to dispense with using the leading or preferred Team Role and adopt another in its position. It may be that there is no good example of a certain role within the team, or perhaps that another person is already contributing on common, preferred ground. Such a change from preferred behaviour is identified as “making a Team Role sacrifice”.

When I know my strongest Team Roles, what shall I do about it?

You should take on and build up these roles as much as possible, because this is where you are in all probability to make your mark. You should also be aware of your lowest roles and find a strategy to fend off having to play them. Try to work with people with the opposite strengths and weaknesses to your own.

Why 'Plant'?

The term "Plant" originated in the long recurring experiments with teams at Henley (see "Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail" and "Team Roles at Work").

People who were acknowledged for making original, imaginative contributions were found to have distinctive profiles on psychometric tests. The team tested out their theories by "planting" these assigned individuals in teams, so that the relative frequency of their suggestions could be determined against control subjects. The predictions were maintained, so the term "Plant" was retained. It was also viewed as functional for implying the seminal nature of their contributions. Belbin have never used the term "Idea Generator". Where this has been employed, it has been mistakenly disordered with Resource Investigator. Both roles can deal in ideas, but each functions differently and exerts its particular effects on relationships within a team.

I thought there were eight Team Roles...?

We are frequently asked why the Specialist role is now taken as a Team Role, when it receives no credit in Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail.

The answer is that the role was discovered only after the Henley experiments had been concluded. Since the business game had been built to set all participants on a level playing-field, in terms of knowledge and expertise, Specialist behaviours could not emerge.

Whilst this assumption was useful for the aims of the experiment, it is not emblematic of real life. All data regarding the contribution and defects of the Specialist has been harvested from later experiences in the practical application of the theory in industry. We seldom start from scratch and there is no point in reinventing the wheel. It is essential to begin with what is already known, and it may take the skills of the Co-ordinator to bring out the specialised knowledge quiescent within the team.

Is there a self-scoring edition of the inventory?

There is no approved self-scoring method available for completing the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory (SPI). If you are using a self-scoring adaptation of the questionnaire, it is obsolete and not normed.

What about the reliability and cogency of e-interplace®?

Reliability and validity are constructs commonly used in measuring psychometric tests. Reliability is a measure of the internal consistency of a test, whilst validity is involved with the effectiveness of the determinations and inferences described.

Internal consistency is broadest where test items are repeated, but this narrows the focus of the test overall. Instead than repeating questions, or introducing items which are nearly identical, e-interplace® (the software which analyses the Belbin Self-Perception Inventory) searches for clusters of related behaviour. For instance, the Shaper cluster refers to an individual who is challenging, competitive, hard driving, tough and outspoken. Nevertheless, that does not mean to say that everyone who is competitive will inevitably be outspoken.

Most psychometric tests rely on self-reporting. However, the behaviours identified may not correspond with what others discover. The effectiveness of the software, e-interplace®, lies in its emphasis on construct validity: applying multiple sources of evidence to draw a conclusion. The system’s outputs are designed to take account of the level of consensus on determined behaviour. Disparities between self-analysis and the perceptions of others can supply valuable leads for action. Formal correlations are, however, difficult to calculate, as those providing feedback are not required to make a specified number of responses. This is because genuine responses are more easily obtained – and more worthwhile – when involuntary alternatives are avoided.