I have come to realize that we are all talented in different ways, and with our unique set of giftings, we will always have something to contribute wherever we are. When I was directing collaborative projects in the past, I used to constantly harbor negative thoughts about members of my team who were inefficient in producing the results that I had envisioned for. “Why can’t they just do this well?” This question would replay in my head over and over again till the point of helpless frustration. It got to the point where I simply gave up on the values of teamwork and began doing everything on my own — a one man show. Needless to say, that left me constantly overworked and perpetually tired 24/7.
Who is to blame?
I had an epiphany! The problem did not lie with the ‘inefficient member’ who could not produce, the problem lies with one powerful factor that any collaborative project across disciplines and sectors would require — the right placement.
Everyone has different strengths that they operate best in. Some are better at managing, some at time-keeping, some at ideation and some at execution. As design managers or project leaders, our role is to identify them, and then put them in the right place. If we find that a team member is ineffective in a current position, I am sorry but we are to blame.
I came to this realization after learning about the Belbin Team Roles during one of my lectures yesterday. If you are a project manager of some sort (or are looking to be one in future), I hope that these pointers would enlighten you like it for to me. These are basically a glimpse of the different roles required for a collaborative team to function effectively:
- Resource Investigator
You use your inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team
- Team Worker
You help the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team
You focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately
You are highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways
- Monitor Evaluator
You provide a logical eye, making impartial judgments where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way
You bring in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team
You provide the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum
You plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible
- Completer Finisher
You polish and scrutinize the work for errors at the end, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control
We might not always have enough people in our team to fill up all 9 roles, so it is common for one to wear different hats at the same time. But it is important that the hats we wear align with our strengths. My desire to continually witness and be a part of effective collaborations led me to write a more extensive piece on Design Management and the ideal of 'Dream Teams'. You can read my extended writing here. We are all talented different ways, and with our unique set of giftings, we will always have something to contribute wherever we are.