Every time I am in front of a team, I look at their personality as if I were before an individual: Their expressions, their desires, their fears, their strengths, their difficulties, and even their tics. A team is like a big orchestra with many instruments playing a specific music. Some have more than others but all instruments make up a series of notes that make them unique. Today I will speak about internal roles in the team. 

To those that we are dedicated to the development on a team, we like to distinguish between external and internal roles. The former have to do with the functional responsibilities assigned to their members. One is the responsible for an activity; the other is carrying such a function, etc. It is the identity or “tag” we give to the person based on the work done within the team. This is something we can identify from outside the group although we do not form part of it. 

On the other hand, there are internal roles. These are determined by the natural contributions made by its members based on their personality or attitude. It is their spontaneous trend set by their character. Often this is more difficult to know if we are not part of that group or if we have no connection with it. Professor Belbin identified three groups of internal roles: 

  • Mentalroles. They are those that provide a rational activity linked to the contribution of its members. Among these are the Plant, the Monitor-Evaluator, and the Specialist. 
  • Social roles. They are those that provide the connection between people in their productive and positive dimensions. Among these are theCoordinator, theTeamworker, and the role of Resource Investigator. 
  • Action roles. They are those that determine the movement and momentum created by the team to achieve their goals. Among these are the roleShaper, theImplementer role and the role Completer Finisher. 

If all are necessary for the team to be rich and creative, it is also true that it tends to “behave” in a certain way based on these “instruments”. Thus sometimes we see teams that live only in the “doing” and forget to strengthen their relationships, or groups with a very jovial and cheerful personality but do not get what they want, or even teams that are paralyzed in their day to day by excessive analysis and reasoning. 

In any case, the “system” (team) is wise by nature and tries to provide what its members need to be further developed. Thus, for example, if there is a lot of tension among its members, sure to be one that will attempt to perform the role of teamworker. Work that will correspond to the person be more sensitive to it. 

This is something that is part of the laws of nature from the moment of their formation. Therefore, an animal that is not fast should know well camouflaged from predators. In addition, we also find numerous examples in our daily lives, like the way a couple educate their children as the mother brings something different from what the father brings. 

If this is so, what can we do to make a better music for a productive team? 

Of course, managers or team leaders, as good orchestra directors can follow some recommendations to make that the instruments complement and integrate with each other in tune. 

  • Identify what is the musical power of your team. It is important to begin to realize the kind of music your team like to play. This will make that the team devote more efforts to get all the juice. A football team that is not very technical, but very physically gifted, should take advantage of these conditions.
  • Incorporate new instruments in the team. The leader must identify at all times the necessary instruments to get the music that the audience (organization) want. To do this you have several options. One is look for a soloist of the marketor to seek the collaboration of soloists from other orchestras so they can teach musicians to discover other instruments, and another is to seek alliances with other orchestras for touching some pieces together for the delight of the audience. 
  • Avoid forcingthe musicians to play the music they do not want. The excellent performance comes when the execution is enjoying, hence it is not desirable that we push someone from the team to exercise a role do not want. This can cause what we call “role nausea”. The musician must be connect with the instrument and this must be connect with the person. 

Enjoy the music of your team. 

Enric Arola