Ulster Business School Masterclass

           MLN Academic Partner

Kirsty McManus

Building High Performance Teams

According to Meredith Belbin “A team is not a bunch of people with job titles, but a congregation of individuals, each of whom has a role which is understood by other members. Members of a team seek out certain roles and they perform most effectively in the ones that are most natural to them”.

High-performance work teams are therefore distinguished by their ability to function at a high level for extended periods of time, in the most efficient and effective manner possible. Teams of this type come in many shapes and sizes, and there is no one team model that is right for every business; however, there are a few foundational characteristics that seem to underpin most high-performance teams.


Paradoxically, this definition calls for diversity within the team, in terms of a wide range of skills and attributes among members, yet commonality in terms of values base and purpose. Common values and a shared sense of purpose set the ground rules for how team members are going to conduct themselves as they strive to achieve their goals.

Effective teams are composed of members with a wide range of skills and experiences from which to draw for support, guidance and motivation. Dynamic teams have members with particular strengths and weaknesses that compliment one another and a variety of personalities to fulfil different roles of leadership, logistics, creative direction and discipline. Effective teams respect and embrace differences of opinion.

Clear Goals and Expectations

Clear goals and timetables drive high-performance teams, as does a knowledge of professional expectations. To have multiple people work toward a common goal objectives must be clearly understood by all team members, and each person must know exactly what his responsibilities are in relation to the achievement of team objectives. Progress toward goals should be measured at regular intervals to ensure the different elements of the project are progressing together in a timely fashion.

Belbin’s 9 Team Roles Strengths

The 9 Team Roles that Meredith Belbin identified are used widely in thousands of organisations all over the world today.

• Innovators – tend to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.

• Resource Investigators – when the team become isolated and inwardly focused, the Resource Investigator provides inside knowledge on the opposition and makes sure that the team’s idea would carry to the world outside.

• Co-ordinators - are needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.

• Shapers - provide the necessary drive to ensure that the team kept moving and did not lose focus or momentum.

• Monitor Evaluators - are needed to provide a logical eye, make impartial judgments where required and to weigh up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.

• Team Workers – are needed to help the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.

• Implementers - are needed to plan a practical, workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.

• Completer Finishers – are most effectively used at the end of a task, to “polish” and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.

• Specialists – have in-depth knowledge of a key specialist area. (Source www.belbin.com)

 Solid teams are the foundation of a high performance organisations and developing those teams is an effort that requires serious effort and consistent discipline.  At the Ulster Business School, Centre for SME’s we have developed a programme for senior managers which will help you identify the team roles within your organisation, giving you a common language to show clusters of behaviours that are needed in the workplace. This course will provide your organisation with a step-by-step guide, through a process to take responsibility to become a high performing team that takes full responsibility for their business results. Financial assistance of 100% is available towards training costs to eligible participants from the Department for Employment and Learning.

For more information, please contact k.mcmanus@ulster.ac.uk

Kirsty McManus, Director of the Centre for SME Development at the Ulster Business School

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute professional or other advice.

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