All Alone In The Office
Team Role Theory, as defined by Dr R. Meredith Belbin from his research at Henley Management College, explains the individual’s tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way. We all have certain strengths and weaknesses, but get the right group of people together with the right mix of strengths and the weaknesses can be managed.
What sort of person are you? Belbin breaks down the roles in the workplace thus: firstly, regarding doing/acting.
Are you a shaper? A person with lots of energy and action, the one who always challenges the rest of the team to move forward? You’d be an asset but occasionally you can be a tad insensitive.
Or maybe you’re an Implementer? You’ll be a well-organised, predictable person who takes basic ideas and makes them work in practice. The downside? You can be slow.
Perhaps, like me, you’re a Completer/Finisher – someone who reliably sees things through to the end, ironing out the wrinkles and ensuring everything works well. The downside to this is that you’ll have a tendency not to trust others and worry too much.
Secondly, in the area of thinking/problem-solving, which category do you see yourself slotting into? A Plant solves difficult problems with original and creative ideas though s/he can be a poor communicator and may ignore the detail.
A Monitor sees the big picture. S/he thinks carefully and accurately about things but may lack the energy to inspire others.
A Specialist has expert knowledge they can apply to key areas but a tendency to ignore other areas outside their expertise that might be just as important to developing the project.
Finally, Belbin deals with People and Feelings. Team workers care for individuals and the team. They’re good listeners always striving to resolve social problems. However they often find making difficult decisions problematic.
The Co-ordinator is a respected leader, helping the rest of the team to focus on the task. They can be seen as excessively controlling, though.
And then there’s the Resource/Investigator. A great networker, who explores new ideas energetically. The downside is that this person can be optimistic and lose energy after the first initial bout of enthusiasm.
Teams in the workplace work best when there is a balance of roles and when team members both know what their roles are and stick to them. To achieve the best balance there should be:
One Co-Ordinator or Shaper (not both) for leader
A Plant to Stimulate Ideas
A Monitor/evaluator to maintain honesty and clarity
One or more Implementer, Team Worker, Resource investigator or Completer/finisher to make things happen.
Okay, so far so good. Seven people, each fixed in their role and comfortable with it. What a brilliant team! But what happens when you aren’t part of a team and you work at home, alone, at a computer screen, attempting to write your novel, short story or screenplay?
If it’s not working for you right now, maybe it’s time to figure out your own role and invite a few, new imaginary friends on board to even out the lumps and make progress towards your goal of publication.
Like I said. I’m a Completer/Finisher. So much so that I’ll flog away at an idea and write the story even if a little bit of me tells me it’s a rubbish one. I could do with a Plant on board to stop me getting bogged down in the detail and add a bit of sparkle to my writing. And I definitely need a Shaper for those Monday mornings where bed seems infinitely preferable to getting up and hammering out a new idea.
What about you? What gets in the way of your writing? Are you a Specialist who spends too much time on research only to find that your energy for actually writing the story has all fizzled out? An evaluator, constantly editing and re-editing the same 500 words and never moving forward? A predictable Implementer, who needs a shot in the arm to spice up their story now and then or, like a Plant, full of great ideas but with a limited amount of staying power.
You have to write your story by yourself and there’s no one in the office to bolster up your sagging bits. But maybe if you’re aware of the characteristics you lack you can say a little prayer to your Muse and ask for a few more members to join your team. Only if they complement your strengths though.