project leader to help these three work smoothly together. When you
start to put your ideas into practice the Implementer is vital, along with
the Team Worker – especially if things are getting at all difficult or
fraught. By this stage you may find that the drive of a Shaper becomes
important in moving the project along, and as you progress a Completer
becomes vital to see the task through.
So different roles are important at different stages, and these can vary
according to the project. Some people can even be a liability at certain
times. You may find, for example, that your Plant is constantly trying to
find ways to adapt and improve ideas beyond the point and after the
date when changes are helpful. In this case it might be wise to distract
the Plant with a new problem to solve, for example, so as to keep them
out of the way while the rest of the team completes the current project.
Balancing team roles is, of course, less crucial for a team whose princi-
pal function is to operate a more or less steady and continuous process
with little change over the years. But if the team operates in areas of
rapid change in terms of the workforce, manufacturing techniques,
products, markets or costs; or if their work is largely project orientated;
or if there is competition, pressure and the need to make fast decisions,
then it becomes vital to have all the different team skills available.
Working with smaller teams
Suppose you’re running a team of four people. Which team roles are
you supposed to manage without? Well, none of them necessarily.
Everyone can play at least one secondary role, so you should be able to
manage. And many teams don’t need certain roles. If your team is effec-
tively a think-tank, for example, you probably don’t need a Completer.
Many teams can manage without a Specialist. But beyond that, the
types tend to divide into four whose preoccupation and orientation is
to the world outside the team, and five who are chiefly concerned with
what goes on inside the team:

Get How to Build a Great Team, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.