While never forgetting the genuine affection and regard that seems to miraculously prevail at my workplace, I usually refer to the company as a dysfunctional family. I knew it was going to be interesting to apply the theories of R Meredith Belbin (2010) to see why things did and didn’t work. As the company has grown, why did the addition of some team members make such a difference and others not?
I realise of course that my curiosity about ideas such as this would probably identify me as a natural resource-investigator. As the technical support manager, I am a specialist who contributes within a narrow range in company meetings. I am also called on to complete tasks because I follow up and make sure they are done. That would make me an implementer.
The boss, apart from being kind and ethical is extremely sharp. After some consultation with managers he will formulate and plan and drive it through –he’s a shaper. He chairs management meetings and generally the only person who disagrees with him is the office manager, P. They are a tight team. P is on the phone all day - a coordinator. When I ( the implementer who’s inclined to be inflexible) disagree with P we have learnt to not waste time and take it straight to the boss – he is the only one who can tell her she is wrong.
When J, an implementer joined the team as inventory manager he made a huge impact. Of Chinese decent, he works within the existing structure. He truly works for the company. He is hard working and well liked. He was the in-house implementer we had been lacking. He was followed by another implementer, a sales manager.
For a few years there was a product manager who was a resource-investigator/ shaper. In the end his frustration motivated him to leave and start his own successful company. He was replaced by an implementer who is much more well-liked and effective in the role.
Plants don’t seem to thrive very well in my work family though the hardware support manager puts out the odd tendril which is swiftly put into practice by one of the many implementers. As a small business to business company, our success is determined by our customers. I think they like dealing with a friendly helpful company, made up mostly of extroverts. After listening to Susan Cain on the power of introverts I couldn’t help wondering if the company might be more functional if we encouraged our thinkers more and spent less time competing for air space and laughs.
Belbin, R. M. (2010). Management teams: Why they succeed or fail. Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier.