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Belbin Solutions for a Toxic Workplace Culture?

By November 6, 2021No Comments

Creating, cultivating, and changing workplace culture can be difficult.

If you get it right when you’re first starting out, you’ll see an increase in engagement and outcomes, as well as the ability to recruit people who will buy into the positive atmosphere and provide something fresh. If you get it wrong, you’ll have a hard time attracting and retaining good employees, restricting growth and productivity.

And this is a more common issue than you may assume. The desire to hire like-minded people or model a perfect manager or employee after a single successful person can have disastrous consequences for diversity, perpetuating certain behaviors at the expense of others. Because “it’s just not the way we do things around here,” organizations can easily get alienated and driven out of meaningful and valuable contributions. When one team – or even one person – is culturally at odds with the rest of the organization, it can encourage disengagement or internal competition, as well as increase employee turnover.

So, how can you spot a toxic work environment, and what can you do about it?

Diversity in behavioural contributions is critical for a successful workplace culture, according to the Belbin Team Roles. We’ll look at what happens when a single Team Role behavior infects a team or group, as well as how to address it. Please review our Team Role definitions if you are unfamiliar with the nine Belbin Team Roles.

Although there are likely to be multiple Team Role forces at work in any one business, we’ve simplified it to one culture per Team Role for the sake of simplicity. Of course, achieving a suitable Team Role balance is a more complex and nuanced process, but in each case, we’ve highlighted the roles we believe can most successfully redress the balance in the short term.

Plant culture

“There are many ideas circulating, but communication isn’t as effective as it could be. Sometimes one team is unaware of what the other is doing. It’s quite difficult to make plans and get things started around here.”

It’s critical to have Monitor Evaluators to help analyze the viability of new ideas and Implementers to create and implement practical strategies in a primarily Plant culture.

Resource Investigator culture

“Everyone is busy and frequently on the move. There’s a genuine buzz going on, and we’re not short on enthusiasm. We have good customer interactions, yet despite our best efforts, we occasionally overlook things and disappoint people.”

Implementers and Completer Finishers can help give structure and follow up on leads in a Resource Investigators culture. Co-ordinators may also be required to ensure that all of the participants’ efforts are successful.

Co-ordinator culture

“We have a lot of debates and good communication, but there aren’t enough people willing to get down to business and get the job done. Things can get a little too political at times, rather than focusing on the task at hand.”

In a Co-ordinator-heavy culture, Implementers and Teamworkers are effective at getting the task done. Specialists can give specific skills that their more generalist Co-ordinator colleagues may be missing, while Shapers can cut through political intrigues and ensure that the team is focused on its aims.

Shaper culture

“We have a lot of enthusiasm and motivation, but everyone has an opinion on which direction we should go, and it’s often a competition to see who can speak the loudest. Tensions are high, and meetings almost invariably end in squabbles.”

While adding diplomatic Teamworkers to the mix may seem like a nice idea, in small numbers they are likely to be shouted down in a raucous Shaper culture. Co-ordinators may be better suited to channeling energy toward positive goals, whereas Monitor Evaluators may be better suited to applying the brakes when necessary.

Monitor Evaluator culture

“We’re terrific at analyzing and formulating strategies, but occasionally we get carried away and end up debating topics that aren’t really worth debating. We have a good track record of making good decisions, but growth is sluggish.”

Shapers are ideally suited to overcome the Monitor Evaluator’s penchant for ‘paralysis by analysis’ by encouraging action, but just dumping a Shaper into a Monitor Evaluator culture would likely cause both parties to dig in their heels. Co-ordinators and Implementers can be effective in providing people and task organization, respectively.

Teamworker culture

“Everyone gets along, and there’s a very loving atmosphere, but things might become a little sluggish at times. Problems are simmering beneath the surface, but no one wants to upset the apple cart.”

Shapers can provide direction and impetus when Teamworker behaviors are prominent, but they may be too powerful for their surroundings. Implementers’ concentration on efficiency and business loyalty may help put an end to a highly social culture, while co-ordinators can mitigate this effect.

Implementer culture

“Everything functions as though it were a well-oiled machine. We have systems in place to help us work more efficiently, but we often forget to look up. We get trapped in a rut, and any recommendations for change are usually regarded with skepticism.”

Plants and Shapers are well-positioned to encourage change through creativity and innovation, as long as the Implementers in place give new ideas a chance. Resource Investigators can point you in the direction of what others are doing differently.

Completer Finisher culture

“We’re known for quality control; we take pride in paying attention to the smallest details and don’t let faults escape through the cracks. However, there is a lot of fear in the air. People are prone to working late, but they are still unable to achieve deadlines and are prone to cracking under pressure.”

Shapers and Co-ordinators working together could be the greatest way to rebalance an anxious Completer Finisher culture. Shapers can make sure that deadlines aren’t missed in the pursuit of excellence, while Co-ordinators may successfully delegate and disperse work.

Specialist culture

“We’re known for being cutting-edge specialists in our industry, but it’s possible that we don’t realize what we don’t know. We are too inward-looking, and as a result, we miss out on chances due to other considerations.”

Co-ordinators and Resource Investigators are needed in a Specialist culture to keep an eye on the broad picture and to minimize insular tendencies by providing a link to the world outside the group’s unique emphasis.

Redressing the Team Role balance

It’s not easy to change an organization’s culture, but recognizing the dominant behaviors – and how they came to be – is a good place to start. You can then determine what is required to restore Team Role balance and ensure that critical contributions are not overlooked.

The first stage is to work with your team to complete Belbin Individual Reports, which will help each person understand their role. The data is then compiled by Belbin Team Reports, which provides insights into wider Team Role patterns, as well as assessing how different individuals contribute to the team and highlighting where they may be functioning in isolation.

Do any of the above trends ring true in the companies you’ve worked for or with? How did you go about re-establishing behavioral diversity?

Contact us if you need assistance.

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