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Personality profiling and team building

By RICHARD WARD Published 10th Sep 2013
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Personality profiling is used extensively by large companies when creating work teams, to ensure that the right mix of people are in the team to achieve its objectives. It’s very rare for small businesses to take a similar approach in putting teams together. Often people are recruited because the interview went well and they seemed as though they would fit in.

Personality type is relevant at the partnership or director level as well as in the broader team. There are many famous successful business partnerships, for example Lords Hanson and White, where the two characters were opposites and complemented each other’s skills. However, in many business partnerships skills are repeated and other skills missing. This means that certain things don’t happen and it can affect the success or failure of a business.

For example, in many companies work can be done to a high standard but there’s not enough of it being sold. The selling never happens because it’s not in the natural skill set of anyone in the company.

There are two types of profiling available. Personality involves such aspects as whether the person is an introvert or an extrovert and whether they like to be on time or keep things open. The other type is work style. This covers the type of tasks that people prefer to do. It explains why some things come naturally and others are harder - basically why some things on the to-do list don’t get ticked off without a lot of effort.

One of the leading programmes in this area is called Belbin Team Profiling. It is named after Dr Meredith Belbin who created it in the 1970s and it is extensively used by large corporates. It identifies nine work styles which cover such areas as being creative, going out to meet people, doing the detail and finishing what is started.

All of us have a level of preference for all of these various activities. However, it varies and some come to us more easily than others. For tasks where your preference is low it takes more effort. In fact it may be better to delegate those tasks which don’t come naturally. It is possible to look at the individuals in a business and then to look at the business as a whole and how the individuals fit together. You can identify areas of surplus and deficit and this can drive your recruitment strategy in the future. Some companies use Belbin at the recruitment stage.

The result is a more scientific approach to building your business and it can have a profound effect. Profiles are delivered on a day which includes a full explanation of Belbin and the individual and team profiles. You can include fun team building activities in this process, which is both enjoyable and can help you to demonstrate team behaviours in action.

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257 weeks ago, by Simon
Quick pedantic note..... ('cos I agree with 99% of what you say ;) ) Belbin doesn't really talk about team members as such, so much as team *functions*. You can have one person carrying out more than one of the Belbin functions and visa versa etc.

In particular, most real world teams are going to be comprised of Specialists with at least one of the other roles, aren't they?
257 weeks ago, by James
Not all functions need a specialist and not all specialists naturally have that function in their top three when they have their Belbin profile done.
257 weeks ago, by Richard
Hi Simon,

Belbin is based, as you say, on work functions but it's people who carry those functions out. It's a useful tool for seeing how well an individual's preferred activities match their function.

All teams will vary; some will have specialists, others will be made primarily of one of two of the Belbin types, for example a sales team.

Essentially it's a tool that can give deeper understand and improve communication.

Kind regards

256 weeks ago, by Jackie
I sometimes play with this as an icebreaker using the 'pig personality profile' (Google it).
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