Peter Honey suggests there are five key Team Roles (see descriptions below). Both the activities below are based on these roles. Activity 1 is an activity you can do with your team before you properly start working on your teamwork task. Activity 2 is an activity you can do individually after your teamwork task is completed.
Team Role Activity 1: Before you start teamwork
Together with your team:
- On a piece of paper, draw a circle split into five segments with one of the Team Roles (leader, challenger, doer, thinker, supporter) represented in each segment.
- Ask each team member to enter their name in the segment or segments that correspond to the role they find they usually perform in a team.
- Once team members’ names have been entered, analyse the circle and discuss the role descriptions together. Where are your team’s strengths and potential weaknesses?
- Ask everyone to come up with an action point, based on their discussions, which will enable the team to increase its effectiveness.
This activity also highlights any skill gaps or surpluses that your group hadn't anticipated. If either of these is the case, you will need to be proactive about managing that situation. For instance, who might be willing to fill in any skills gaps? What if there are two people suited to the same role?
Team Role Activity 2: After teamwork is completed
Reflecting individually on the teamwork you have completed:
- Which description do you think best describes your individual role or roles in the teamwork during this task?
- Which roles did other individual team members play?
- What were your team’s strengths and weaknesses? What (or who) do you think contributed to your team’s overall effectiveness?
- What did you learn from this team task (about yourself, and about teamwork generally) that you can use in future teamwork?
Honey's Five Team Roles
1. LEADER: makes sure the team has clear objectives and members are engaged
Leaders have good awareness about what skills their group needs to develop, they are good at planning and prioritising tasks needed to complete work. They are organised, focus on time management and can set realistic targets. They have a good sense of when a problem is 'solved', and pay attention to detail in checking and finalising work.
2. CHALLENGER: questions effectiveness and drives for results
Challengers can look at problems and see more than one solution. They are able to explain ideas and counter-ideas clearly to people and are always thinking about how to do things better.
3. DOER: encourages progress and takes on practical jobs
Doers are focused workers who deal well with distractions. They know where to go to find information and are proactive about doing so. They are task-oriented and ask for advice or input when they are stuck on a problem.
4. THINKER: produces ideas and thinks through those proposed by others
Thinkers are good at selecting the information they need to solve problems or complete tasks. They are logical and can break down tasks into steps and put information in order. When solutions to problems don't work they try to find out why and approach the problem from another direction.
5. SUPPORTER: eases tension and promotes harmony
Supporters work well with other people and listen to their suggestions. They like to check that they have understood problems, and suggest different ways of solving them in a team. They stay calm when there is disagreement or conflict. They can follow instructions to get tasks done and see how these contribute to overall team goals.