Management roles

Diagram: Management Roles

Theories: 8 management roles by Robert E. Quinn and 9 team roles by Meredith Belbin.

Meredith Belbin

Meredith Belbin (1926) is a British management specialist, who is well-known because of his work on management roles. He is a visiting professor and Honorary fellow of Henley Management College in England. At the end of the 1960’s he carried out, with other specialists, a seven-year research project at this College, studying the way members of teams interacted during business games. His book ‘Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail (1981)’ presents results from this project, but it also draws on real-life experiences.

One of his main findings is that for a team to be effective its members have to possess eight (later nine) key or team roles. In building teams in an organization, one should ensure that all the nine roles are covered. As some roles are more compatible than others, a team should have at least three or four members. The balance among team roles is crucial for success.

Robert Quinn

Robert Quinn is generally considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the area of change management. He is professor in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management at the Graduate School of Business, University of Michigan. He co-founded the Centre for Positive Organizational Scholarship, based at the same University.

He published approximately 15 books, amongst others ‘Becoming a Master Manager: A Competing Values Approach’, by Robert E. Quinn, Sue R. Faerman, Michael P. Thompson, Michael R. McGrath, and Lynda S. St. Clair. John Wiley (2006).

More recently he published a trilogy about change.

Robert Quinn became particularly known because of his Competing Values Framework, one of the most used tools in business administration.

The competing Values Model (1983) is initially based on a review of different historical approaches to management: the Rational Goal and Internal Process Models (1900 – 1925), the Human Relations Model (1925 – 1950) and the Open Systems Model (1950 – 1975). Experience indicated that each of these approaches had its drawbacks and advantages. The key to success was thought to lie in an integration of the various approaches. Robert Quinn and colleagues therefore developed a unified approach combining the earlier methods. A dynamic balance among the various factors was found to be important. It is often the proper management of tensions between the four principles that determines the success of an organization or a team. The four competing values are arranged according to a quadrant: changing and managing on one axis and internal versus external orientation on the second axis. The four quadrants represent respectively the Open Systems, the Human Relations, the Internal Process, and the Rational Goal models. Each of these quadrants contain two management roles.

The diagram

The diagram ‘Management roles’ shows the dynamics within and between the management roles from the management theory of Robert Quinn. It shows the dynamics within and between the team roles from the theory of Meredith Belbin as well. The particular value of this diagram is not only that it displays the two theories as such, but also that it further clarifies the relations between these two theories.

The 1st quadrant: Rational Goal Model.

The team- and management roles in this model are externally oriented and focus on managing. The dynamics in these roles tend to concentric autonomous. Usually these roles are filled by CEO’s, directors. They focus on the customer, the future. They are working at the strategic level of the organization. Effectiveness is the main goal. Are we accomplishing our goals related to the customer? The management roles from Quinn possessing (in comparison to the other roles) the characteristics of these dynamics are: Director and Producer. The team roles from Belbin which have these dynamics as well are: Chairman and Completer.

· Director (Quinn): Independent, future-oriented and tough. As a good thinker, formulates and communicates a vision for the organization, develops plans, sets targets, develops strategies and organizes. Formulates global procedures. Delegates responsibilities and ensures goal achievement.

· Chairman (Belbin): Controls the way in which the team operates, ensuring that all team members participate productively. Makes sure that principles of fairness and equity are respected. Focuses on the objectives of the team, clarifies them, distributes tasks and allocates duties and responsibilities. Makes optimal use of team resources; identifies strengths and weaknesses. Usually a good listener, calm and good-natured. May delegate too much and be excessively controlling.

– Producer (Quinn): Action- and results-oriented. Focuses on the tasks ahead, whereby performance and productivity are key. Creates a favorable environment for achievement of targets and good performance, motivates staff and undertakes time and stress management. Energetic, possesses high motivation and drive with strong goal orientation and high productivity. Competitive and businesslike.

– Completer (Belbin): Ensures thorough quality and timelessness of team results. Emphasizes the need for observing deadlines and schedules. Will push team if necessary. Attention to detail. Particularly useful at the end of a task to check for high quality, errors and provide finishing touch. Tends to be perfectionist, conscientious and orderly.

The 2nd quadrant: Internal Process Model.

This model is focused on the internal processes within the organization. It focuses on procedures and are we doing the things we agreed doing the way we agreed to be doing them. The roles in this quadrant have a heteronomous concentric dynamic within them. They investigate the situation of the organization and monitor, control if we are doing the things according to the procedures and agreements. They coordinate or implement old and new procedures. It’s all about efficiency. The management roles from Quinn which have (in comparison to the other roles) the characteristics of these dynamics are: Coordinator and Controller. The team roles from Belbin which have these dynamics as well are: Implementer and Monitor.

– Coordinator (Quinn): Plans, organizes and coordinates human resources inputs and monitors logistical and practical arrangements. The emphasis is on project management, the formulation of tasks and relations between projects.

– Implementer (Belbin): This team-member is the practical thinker who gets things done. Turns concepts and basic ideas into plans and workable strategies. Carries out plans systematically and efficiently. Is disciplined, reliable and well-organized. May resist change, be inflexible and work slowly.

– Controller (Quinn): Manages key production processes as well as organization, team and individual performances. Disciplined and perfectionist, the controller ensures compliance with established targets, policies and procedures. Analyses and manages information and ensures proper flow through the organization

– Monitor (Belbin): Is strategic and keeps the big picture in mind. Analyzes problems, evaluates ideas and makes impartial and accurate judgments. Looks at all options, thinks carefully and evaluates pros and cons carefully. Monitors progress and helps to avoid mistakes. Contributes to making balanced decisions. May be detached and less energetic and inspirational.

The 3rd quadrant: The Human Relations Model.

This model is in its dynamic more dicentric heteronomous compared to the other models. These roles are internal oriented and are busy with changing. The roles within this quadrant have to be flexible and have to constantly change, depending on which they work with and what they need. The management roles from Quinn which have (in comparison to the other roles) the characteristics of these dynamics are: Facilitator and Mentor. The team roles from Belbin which have these dynamics as well are: Shaper and Group worker.

– Facilitator (Quinn): Develops and maintains participatory decision making processes. Promotes team-building and cooperation. Impartial and tolerant. Open for others. Manages and tries to resolve interpersonal conflicts.

– Shaper (Belbin): Shapes the manner in which the team is operating. A dynamic team-member who looks for challenges and performs well under pressure. Possesses the drive to overcome obstacles, focuses on agreement, strives for decisions which are carried by the entire team and challenges the team to improve, to make decisions. The shaper promotes the process of decision making.

– Mentor (Quinn): Accessible and helpful and possesses high emotional intelligence. Personal approach, patient and caring. Communicates effectively with individual persons and promotes the personal development of staff. Expresses appreciation for good performance and ideas.

– Group worker (Belbin): Provides support generally and ensures that team members are working together effectively. Encourages cooperation. He plays the role of negotiator within the team and is flexible, diplomatic, and perceptive. Cares for individuals and the team. Is a good listener and works to resolve social problems. Is socially oriented and sensitive to others. May be indecisive and non-committal and avoid making difficult decisions.

The 4th and last quadrant: The Open Systems Model.

In it’s dynamic, this model is, compared to the other three models, more autonomous and dicentric. The roles are more external oriented and busy with changing. There is a lot of room for creativity. The management roles from Quinn which have (in comparison to the other roles) the characteristics of these dynamics are: Broker and Innovator. The team roles from Belbin whhich have these dynamics as well are: Resource investigator and Plant.

– Broker (Quinn): Possesses a well-developed political sense and develops a power base. Communicates effectively and maintains an elaborate network of external contacts for resource mobilization. Possesses excellent presentation skills, is a convincing talker, is influential and effectively negotiates agreements. Keeps an eye on reputation and image. Optimistic and enthusiastic. Presents new concepts and ideas.

– Resource Investigator (Belbin): Is strongly motivated to connect with people and is net worker for the team. Explores outside opportunities, develops contacts and shares external information. Negotiates for all type of resources on behalf of the team with external stakeholders. Is innovative, outgoing, enthusiastic and curious. May lose enthusiasm quickly and be overly optimistic.

– Innovator (Quinn): Is future-oriented. Develops creative ideas and innovations. Adventurous, spontaneous and impulsive. Facilitates and manages change and adjustments in the organization. Enterprising and prepared to take risks.

– Plant (Belbin): Highly creative and innovative; uses original approaches in solving difficult problems. Gives special attention to key issues. Reacts well to praise, but not to criticism. Often introvert; may communicate poorly and be impractical. Tendency to disregard established procedures and constraints.

The roles and the dynamics in the 3rd and 4th quadrant are related with change, with the bottom of an organization, with the heart of an organization, the operational level. The roles in the 3rd quadrant are focused on the people and their role in the organization or the team. The fourth quadrant is focused on the tasks which have to be done related to the development of the organization.