Belbin Team Roles and Feedforward

As leaders and managers, a competency that is gaining critical importance is the ability to give and receive feedback. Employees need to know whether their performance is in line with the expectations of the manager. For long, this competency has focused on the past and for good measure on what has already occurred. Little or no time is spent on the possibilities about the future in the execution of the task.

If we have to review performance and measure it in comparison to the expectations set by the manager, he/she must develop the capability of communicating expectations and suggestions to aid future possibilities. Marshall Goldsmith uses the word “Feedforward” for this valuable technique.

There is no doubt that feedback is important. But feedforward must precede feedback for effective individual or team performance.

Here are a few suggestions to leverage your Belbin team roles for giving Feedforward. 

Plant: As a Plant, you are creative and bring a refreshing angle to doing things. You have the ability to come up with recommendations and suggestions on how to approach a challenging role or task ahead. Feedforward from a Plant can bring exciting new dimensions to the goal and can stimulate the energies of your employee to commit and achieve the goal.

Monitor Evaluator: As a Monitor Evaluator you are logical, discriminating and you naturally weigh all options before making a suggestion. This is an important ability to examine future expectations, identify the reasons for the success of a particular path and when the same is verbalised, it can help in reassuring the employee about the anticipated success of the rightness of the direction ahead. This encourages the person to commit more fully to the goal.

Resource Investigator: As a Resource Investigator, you have the unique ability to inquire and explore possibilities into the future. You can engage the employee enthusiastically and bring optimism and a “can do” approach to the goal. Resource Investigators have a natural way to tap into resources both within and outside the organization to achieve a task. You can provide valuable feedforward suggestions in this direction to help the goal achievement.

Shapers: As a shaper, you instinctively push for action. Feedforward suggestions made by you are often taken seriously. When you use this inherent strength in the feedforward process you are listened to because you are known to be on the top of things. The valuable contribution in the feedforward process that you bring in is your ability to make the “difficult things to say” easy.

TeamWorker: As a Teamworker, you are blessed with this unique ability to perceive and be sensitive to what help is needed. You are naturally attuned to the feedforward process and offer suggestions that will be of help. The good news is that the way you put your suggestions forward is non-threatening and keeps a window of opportunity open to fall back on you when needed.

Implementer: As an Implementer, your ability to organize your thoughts in a cause-effect sequence is a unique strength that you bring to the feedforward process. The suggestions made by you are often practical and the expected outcomes visible. This stimulates confidence and there are less chances of going wrong. Most importantly your commitment and disciplined approach brings in respectability and a “must try” attitude to your feedforward.

Completer Finisher: Your reputation for perfection brings to the feedforward process the hope that what you suggest can “polish and perfect” the desired outcome. Your sense of urgency can bring to the forefront the best approach even for the last mile. 

Specialist: As a Specialist, you are the ‘go-to’ person for your domain expertise. Your suggestions in the feedforward process will be much appreciated and sought for as your contribution is likely to be unique. Your helping attitude to share all you can in the area of your expertise makes others willing to approach you when ‘stuck’

In conclusion, try to engage yourself and your team in this process. The diversity of inputs from team members leveraging their top Belbin team role behaviours not only enhances the quality of inputs but also goes a long way to deliver the best possible outcome.

– Leslie D’Souza