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How to maximise teamwork

By 11th April 2024April 16th, 2024Blog, Sharing your big picture
Happy Colleagues Cheering

How to get your teams to work together more effectively when implementing your strategies.

Is all your engagement activity falling on stony ground because your team members are not working well together as they put your strategy into action?

You can do a great job at co-creating your collective ambition, then energising and inspiring your entire organisation through your internal communication campaign, but it’s essential that your teams can work together effectively to implement your plans. And of course, these days, teams need to collaborate with each other within the site, country or internationally to co-ordinate their activities.

Weathering the storm

The climate might be changing but the five stages of team development first proposed by Bruce Tuckman and since developed by others: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning, still hold true.

Sometimes, simply calling attention to this model is helpful for teams that are in the storming phase, as they realise that all this initial conflict is a natural step on the road to performing!

But there must be more you can do to help teams function well – without resorting to well-trodden team activities, such as building rafts, losing people on an orienteering course or going bowling. (All these activities can have a value in building teams, but are not easy to pull off in today’s virtual working world).

Belbin: Team Roles

So, what can you do? Well, we are big fans of Dr Meredith Belbin’s Team Roles. Belbin described a Team Role as “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way”. Belbin identified 9 team roles, which we explore below.

Helping people recognise their preferred role(s) can help teams work together smarter and better.

For example, if you need creative ideas, turn to a Plant (ideas person). If you want to get those ideas checked out to see if they’ll work, ask a Monitor Evaluator to look over them. If you want to get them put in place on time, perfectly, get an Implementer and a Completer Finisher on the case.

And you can have too much of a good thing! We once worked with a team of six individuals, which featured five Plants (ideas people) and one Completer Finisher. As you would expect, there were some great ideas generated – but few were ever delivered!

Sometimes a strength in one situation can be a weakness in another context. Monitor Evaluators are likely to be objective, impartial and good at weighing up all possibilities to make the right decision. Yet they may also come across as unenthusiastic and may be among the least inspiring people in the team. But this ‘allowable weakness’ is a price worth paying for the strength they do bring to the party. Indeed, truly effective teams are made up of people with strengths in all nine Belbin Team Roles.

As you roll out your strategy, we strongly recommend that you harness Belbin’s team roles to understand preferred ways of working, explore where you have got some powerful strengths in your team – and where you are coming up short. This will ensure team members recognise the valuable roles they each play, enabling everyone to play to their strengths in contributing to your success.

Time for ‘Mantras’

Remember the poor lonesome Implementer from the team of six, outlined above? We spotted that they were often ridiculously busy and to be found in a quiet corner, eyes closed and mouth moving as if they were chanting a mantra. Which got us thinking…what would the mantras be for each of the Belbin Team roles? So, we wrote some as a bit of fun.

Which of these resonates most you, or the colleagues that make up your teams?


Oh, grant me the power to have yet another brilliant idea, but forgive me if I don’t get all the details right
Resource Investigator:So,helpmefindamanwho’llsolvethisproblem. thoughinfactIknow severalanditwillbe fab and when its done I’ll… Oh look, a new contact to meet
Coordinator:Oh, I’m sure with all my experience I can bring TOTAL clarity to this challenge, if you could just help me clear my diary and ask others to help
Shaper:So, send me thy challenges and I will step up and walk through fire to deliver, though I might upset others in process, hey ho, especially if they wind me up
Monitor Evaluator:Oh, let me consider all the facts and all explore the options and verily I will make good decision, so long as there’s no rush, and you don’t want me to inspire any disciples
Team worker:So, would it be okay if I listen to everyone’s ideas, I’m sure they’ll be great, I don’t want to cause upset, I think that would be a plan, I’m not sure, especially since this is so important
Implementer:Oh, you know you can always rely on me, give me your ideas and I’ll make them happen, just let me focus, and don’t throw any curved balls at me
Completer Finisher:So, give me thy projects and I’ll deliver on time, can I just check I’ve spelt your name right? I’d get Peter to check, but by the time I‘ve asked him I might as well do it myself
Specialist:Oh, I’d love to help more widely, but I simply must focus on my unique area of expertise and see things through to the end. Can I show this latest research, it’s fascinating


You might also like to explore our collaboration infographic, which is crammed full of interesting and inspirational statistics that will also help enhance teamwork.

If you would like some help in weathering the storms of enhancing teamwork and going beyond uttering mantras as you deliver your strategy, give Axiom a call.