The 5 Team Roles

Most managers misunderstand how teams work.

Much of the literature to building teams focus on getting the proper mix of functional roles – accountant, engineer, designer, systems architect. This approach, which we call the job title method, is both sensible and short-sighted. Sensible because skills are important; short-sighted because it assumes people are just so many interchangeable units.

When individuals are formed into teams there is an awkward phase in which everyone is searching for how he or she fits in – their psychological role.

Psychological roles are determined by personality. Some people are by nature bossy and competitive, pushing the team to achieve. Others are creative, generating lots of ideas for ways to get the job done.

The five psychological role people gravitate towards on the team are: Results, relationships, process, innovation and pragmatism.

Results. These people tend to want to manage the team, are ambitious, results oriented and want to win.

Relationships. Team members who play this role tend to be gregarious and concerned with maintaining relationships. They often act as the cohesive social glue on a team.

Process. People playing the process role are concerned with dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s. They prefer to systematise, follow good process and be conscientious.

Innovation. Team members who gravitate towards the innovation role anticipate problems, spot trends and patterns and generate ideas.

Pragmatists. Almost the opposite of innovation role players, pragmatists are practical, hard-headed challengers of ideas and theories. They promote realistic approaches and like to operate hands-on.

To perform at their best teams need a balance of these roles, balanced in two ways:

  • Complementary fit – means the team isn’t lopsided and there is sufficient diversity to cover each role.
  • Similarity fit – refers to having enough depth in each role to provide critical mass.

Achieving the right mix of skills, experience, and personality is the key to creating a productive team.

For more info, check out the Hogan Team Report eBook.