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Team Building For Success, Innovation AND Well Being in Schools, Colleges and Universities.

Managing Change in Schools

In a time when the world, and education, is changing so quickly, many independent and international schools are looking for ways to future proof their schools, whilst delivering outstanding results, up-skilling staff and managing and motivating for change and innovation.

The Importance Of Teams

Teamwork is essential to our success in education, and there many research papers that show us that teams help us achieve innovation and our strategic objectives as:

  • Collaborative problem solving leads to better outcomes.

  • People are more likely to take calculated risks that lead to innovation if they have the support of a team behind them.

  • Working in a team encourages personal growth, increases job satisfaction, and reduces stress.

Teams form an essential part of organizational innovation as they are a means to initiate and successfully create and implement change, and subsequently are an important level of analysis to understand organizational change. Putting together high performance teams, where everyone is self fulfilled and undertaking roles that play to their strengths is essential to achieving strategic objectives and well being for individuals.

Very often in education we focus on individual strengths, rather than the strength of the individual in that particular team. A lot of focus is quite rightly placed on coaching senior leaders to support those around them, and in developing a coaching culture, which is important for empowering each team member to better deal with stress and take action toward their workload and well being.

Long before the development of personal coaching and a coaching culture to improve effectiveness, Henley Management College saw an urgent need to undertake its own research into improving group outcomes with MBA students - mature students were undertaking studies and projects they had elected to do, but for some reason were not completing the projects as well as expected when they were put into teams.

These students were individually very successful, but somehow when in teams the added advantage of more skills and experience together, did not materialise into better results. Enter Professor Meredith Belbin.

Belbin Team Role Theory - success in teams

Professor Meredith Belbin graduated from Clare College Cambridge in major classical languages and psychology, and was a specialist organizational psychologist, invited by Henley to study the MBA students.

Fascinated in people's performance in teams, as well as individually, Professor Belbin worked with three other researchers over a period of seven years. Each year three business games were organised in which eight teams participated in role plays. These role plays were based on certain organisational situations. Before the start of each role play, each individual was asked to complete a number of psychological tests. Participants were observed during the role plays and their behaviour was recorded and categorized.

In the course of time, based on the management games, successful predictions could be made on which team would win the game, based on a certain team composition. This research became the basis for the classic book Management Teams (1981).

Belbin wrote about nine different team roles that we adopt when we are in teams. Belbin suggests that by "understanding your role within a particular team, you can develop your strengths and manage your weaknesses as a team member, and so improve how you contribute to the team."

A team role, as defined by Belbin is "a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a certain way". According to Belbin's research there are three action roles; Shaper, Implementer and Completer Finisher; three people oriented roles, Co-ordinator, Team Worker and Resource Investigator; three cerebral roles, Plant, Monitor Evaluator, Specialist. One of the most important conclusions of the research was that an effective team has members that cover the nine team roles.

Strategic Planning with Belbin support

Using the Belbin audit tool, supported with workshops to share team roles and build teams, it is easy to plan and put together "team centric" improvement and change plans, with individual well being in mind. Many schools are using it to plan different teams for different projects and to support professional development, appraisal and even recruitment, especially if they have teams with certain roles not represented.

Different team roles are more powerful at different stages of a project, for example a Shaper will push through an idea at the start of a project, whereas a Monitor Evaluator needs to be in your team once the project is rolling out and effectiveness is being assessed. Open and honest conversations about "preferred roles" and "allowable weaknesses" provides a common language for putting the human element into implementation of strategy.

A Belbin team roles approach to your staff and strategy will support successful change, innovation and well being in an ever changing world.

Full Circle Educational Consultancy is an accredited Belbin Consultancy and supports schools, colleges and universities to strengthen their teams and strategic planning through ongoing Belbin workshops and team role audits.

Contact our Lead Belbin Consultant

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