Millions of employees across the world are lost, wondering how they can contribute to their team and what their role truly entails. Managers often have a hard time communicating this, too. They might not know about each individual’s unique skills and insights.
This is where team role assessments come into play. Team role assessments can have an immense impact on any team by helping each individual recognize their unique strengths and abilities.
One of the most important and famous team role assessments is the Belbin test. While it is overlooked by many, this assessment could have a tremendous impact on your team.
The Belbin test is an assessment with a rich history and strong scientific backing. Over the years, the test has evolved and improved according to newly analyzed data, making it even more accurate than ever before.
Below, we discuss the origins of the Belbin test, as well as more recent advancements in team role testing.
The Belbin test was developed and named after renowned consultant and researcher Dr. Raymond Meredith Belbin. Dr. Belbin spent decades researching why certain teams fail and others succeed.
He noticed patterns in the successful teams and analyzed each team member individually. After doing so, he came up with an idea: optimizing teams must involve exploring team members’ behaviors and personalities and aligning tasks with their top personality traits.
As a result of this insight, Dr. Belbin developed an assessment to help people understand where they fit into a team. That test is now known as the Belbin assessment.
Since Dr. Belbin originally developed the test, it has undergone several updates and evolutions. The research originally began in 1969, with Dr. Belbin working as a leader at the Industrial Training Research Unit (ITRU).
Then, Dr. Belbin hired several experts, including anthropologist Jeanne Fisher and Bill Hartson, a chess master and mathematician. Their insights added even more accuracy to the test. After 9 years, the next version of the test was released.
Now, the Belbin company consistently adds to the assessment and conducts additional research. They have gathered millions of data points from the plethora of individuals who have taken the assessment, each enhancing the test for the next test-taker.
The Belbin individual role test classifies test-takers into one of 9 important team roles. From there, you can learn about how you interact with others and how your abilities are used on a team.
Understanding Belbin team roles might seem complex, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is an overview of the Belbin assessment and how it works:
The Belbin test categorizes individuals into one of nine team roles. Each of these roles has a unique list of talents and skills they bring to a team.
The nine roles are:
The Belbin test journey is different for every test-taker. After all, you have unique experiences, goals, and qualities that will shape not only your results but also how you will utilize those results.
Nonetheless, getting an understanding of how the test works and how to interpret your results is crucial. Some key facts you should consider about this assessment are the following:
The test consists of a variety of questions that seek to understand your behavioral performance. This is different from many other assessments that try to measure your personality.
This test is not a personality test. It will help you understand your role on a team. Each question deals with topics such as how you perform in leadership positions, your ideal work environment if you are more structured or disorganized, and so on. In total, the Belbin test will take only 20-30 minutes or so.
Once you have taken the assessment, it is time to analyze your results. The test will consider how you responded to each of the questions, and it will look for patterns.
Then, it will compare your results to the behavioral patterns of each team role. You will be assigned the role that best aligns with your answers.
After you understand your results, you can begin applying them to your job. If you are currently unsatisfied with your career, you can use your results to find another position that better fits your behavior.
In addition, you can also become more confident from taking the test. Finally, you can find tasks that best align with your abilities to make yourself more productive.
This assessment is not just for individual use. The Belbin test is used in team settings more often than by individuals. It helps managers find employees that fit their team’s needs, boosts job performance, and assists employees in staying productive.
Some other real-world applications of the Belbin test are:
Teams work best when individuals know they are useful and have clearly defined roles. Otherwise, people become confused. This leads to inefficiency and conflict.
With the Belbin test, individuals can recognize which behaviors they naturally excel in. Then, they can find tasks that align with those activities. When team members do this, they maximize their efficiency and boost their odds of success in that role.
This test can also be highly beneficial when looking to improve business performance as a whole. It does not have to be limited to small teams or individuals.
Leaders can gain an immense amount of information about their teams by having them take the test. If they know their employee’s behavioral styles, they can learn how to best address them and how to best assign tasks.
Furthermore, this assessment can decrease the risk of conflicts, as people will be more satisfied in their positions. In projects, team members will be set up for success by following the role they naturally excel in.
Many online behavioral performance tests are not verified scientifically. However, the Belbin test is different. It is based on decades of expert research.
Not only was the test created through scientific research, but it also continuously got positive reviews from modern psychological professionals and scholarly studies.
For example, research published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology notes that the test is both accurate and consistent (1). This means the test can give you some truly important insights, but it is not going to be 100% accurate (no test can be).
The Belbin test was developed with your comfort and busy lifestyle in mind. Dr. Belbin wanted to ensure the test could be taken in a single sitting so that it wouldn’t be too disruptive to an individual’s lifestyle.
Therefore, most people can finish the test in 20-30 minutes. Ensure you take your time or rush, as the test will not be too long.
Yes; many organizations use the Belbin test for recruitment purposes. Companies know the Belbin test as a reputable and accurate assessment that helps them understand how potential employees behave.
These insights are highly useful when hiring a new employee. It ensures that the employee fits in well with your existing team and fills any role gaps that need to be filled.
The Belbin assessment is fairly unique. It differs from many popular online personality or strength tests, such as the MBTI or CliftonStrengths.
This is so because it is a team roles test that focuses on behavior, not only personality or strengths. This test is similar to other team role assessments, such as the ones offered by 123test or PsychTest. Both of the previously mentioned assessments are based on the Belbin test.
It is also other similar team role assessments, like the Team Management Systems model developed by Dr. Charles Margerison and Dr. Dick McCann.
One downside that comes with this assessment is its cost. A single Belbin test will cost you £46, or nearly $56. However, the more assessments you buy, the less each assessment will cost you.
This makes ordering a large number of tests cost-effective for teams, which is whom the test caters.
There is no such thing as a perfect behavioral assessment. Although the Belbin test is recognized as a highly accurate and useful test, it also has its drawbacks.
Critiquing the Belbin test helps you understand the full picture: while the test has key imperfections you need to be aware of, it also offers a variety of amazing benefits.
Some of these pros and cons include:
There aren’t too many diagnostic tools available for teams. Still, choosing which one is right for you could be tough. They all seem so similar. However, the Belbin test stands out from other team role diagnostic tools in several ways.
For one, many online team role tests claim to cover both personality and behavior. Belbin only focuses on behavior, which allows them to cover more detail.
This assessment is also backed by more scientific data than most other team role-testing options. It was also developed by experts in the field many decades ago, while more modern options lack those decades of insights.
Disclaimer: BPT does not intend to replicate or to substitute the Belbin test as both tests follow different methodologies, yet bring value in similar ways. Both tests help test takers be more aware of their own personalities. BPT does not dispute or diminish the value of the Belbin test and encourages test takers to go through both assessments. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach us.
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