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Supervisors and Teams at Work


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Author J Burns, G Terrey and T G Neville


This paper explores recent industry training programs and lessons for supervisors. The Belbin Team Role model was used to increase participants’ awareness of behaviour and its application. The application of the Belbin model to underground, open cut mine and quarry supervisors is discussed.

The key to team success may rest with the expertise and experience of its members, but increasingly effectiveness depends on how team members understand, acknowledge and support each other’s behavioural strengths.

Discovering strengths is a challenge, both for their measurement and for the encouragement of team members to use the knowledge of themselves and others in the team. Using behavioural models provides a constructive approach and a language for supervisors as they build personal motivation and engagement.

Prima facie, the mineral industry’s work may be too vigorous for teams and their managers could be more prone to use ‘solo’ or traditional management styles. Managers and supervisors must know when work allocated to a team is appropriate or where individual effort should be applauded and rewarded. For practical people with well-developed technical skills, improving the soft skills necessary for a supervisor requires some reflection and effort. The Belbin behavioural model can be an effective tool for recognising characteristics that can assist teams to be more productive.

Experiencing the Belbin Team Role model as part of an industry qualification is important for supervisors studying to refine their team leadership skills. Data are available for participants to assess the nature of their teams and to confront the appropriateness of the behavioural mix for the work of the team and its individual members.

So what are the next steps? All team development must have a place in the strategic thinking and plans of the enterprise. This needs a visible presence of senior managers and supervisors in managing a team culture with practical links to workplace priorities and professional development with continuous improvement.


Burns, J, Terrey, G and Neville, T G, 2016. Supervisors and teams at work, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 125-138 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).