If you are taking part in a Belbin session, please read the information below to help you get the most from your reports and the workshop.
Do your questionnaire about two weeks before the workshop
The Belbin questionnaire that you will fill in about yourself is called your Self Perception Inventory (SPI). This will take you about 15 minutes to complete. However, to get your full Belbin report, you need to get your colleagues to also complete questionnaires about you as well, these are called Observer Assessments (OA). It will only take your colleagues about 10 minutes to fill in the questionnaire about you. The problem is that your colleagues can only complete the OA questionnaires after you have done your own SPI questionnaire. So please don't leave your questionnaire until the last minute, otherwise your colleagues will not have time. Make sure you get it done about two weeks before the workshop, especially if you have colleagues who are very busy or potentially on holiday.
You need responses from at least four colleagues
When you complete the questionnaire about yourself, you will be asked to nominate colleagues to give you feedback. You will not get a full Belbin report unless at least four of them have actually responded. So, to be safe, I recommend that you ask six or more. I have been on many workshops where participants are disappointed that they have not got the full report because only three of their colleagues responded. It is even worse if you are one of the people who didn't respond and your colleague on the workshop has not got a full report because of you.
The Belbin administrators do send automated reminders to the people you have nominated. However, do feel free to remind them yourself in case you think they have forgotten but please don't influence their response.
If you don't get at least four responses
If you don't get four or more observers to respond in time for when the reports are printed for the workshop, you will get a shorter report that only show your own responses. It will not included any of the feedback from your colleagues, even if three of them did respond. This makes sure that the report is not biased toward your own feedback. However, your colleagues who did not respond in time can still respond after workshop, and an electronic copy of your full report will be emailed to you.
Don't worry about harsh observers words
If you are worried about some of the words that appear in the observer feedback forms, there is no need to worry. If you click on the word, you will get an explanation of the word, which people are usually much happier with. Belbin is a tool that give people a constructive framework to be open and discuss their strengths and weaknesses so please don't worry about using the words that describe weaknesses of your colleagues.
Is it anonymous?
In a Belbin report you can see patterns of the feedback from your colleagues but you will not see exactly who used which words to described you. So please don't worry about this when you are giving your own feedback to them.
Who should you pick as observers?
Try to pick people who you know you well in your current work. Ideally a selection of people who are above, equal and below you, such as a line manager and people who report to you. If the Belbin session is about looking at your team, try to get observers who are all in the team as you. Belbin is about your behaviours in the workplace so there is no point choosing friends and family as observers. Also, don't just pick people who will give you a favourable response because you won't learn anything. And if you pick colleagues from a variety of teams and pervious job, you may find that their responses also vary, and this may limit what you can learn from the report.
What if you can't find four ideal observers
If you can't find four colleagues who fit the description above, then find the next best thing. A non-perfect observer is better than no observer. A colleague from another team or a previous job could help you get to four observers.
Why are you doing Belbin?
Belbin is useful for understanding yourself, your strengths and weakness, as well as the different strengths and weaknesses of your colleagues, which help us recognise and values differences and contributions that different people make to teams. I have found on many workshops that participants are suspicious and wary when they arrive but by the end of the workshop find Belbin really helpful and worthwhile. If you are unsure why you are doing Belbin, speak to the person in your organisation who has arranged the session and make sure you understand their intensions.
Privacy and ethics
Your Belbin report is private and will not be shared with anyone without your consent. However, once people attend a workshop and understand what Belbin is about they are usually relaxed about sharing some of the outcomes in their report for the benefit of exercises on the workshop.
Dr Geraint Wyn Story