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Effective GP commissioning: Extra – Teamwork

This online-only extract from Dr Sunil Gupta's new book Effective GP commissioning looks at the importance of teambuilding in commissioning. (Click here for Part 1 of our serialisation, which looks at recruitment).

Belbin Team Roles (Meredith Belbin, 1981)

Belbin found the difference between the success and failure for a team depended on behaviour, rather than on factors such as intellect.

Belbin described nine roles needed by a team. Each of the behaviours associated with each role is essential in getting the team successfully from start to finish.

For example, a team with no 'Plant' struggled to come up with the initial spark of an idea with which to push forward. However, once too many Plants were in the team, bad ideas concealed good ones and non-starters were given too much airtime.


Is well organised and predictable. Can take basic ideas and make them work but can be slow.


Has lots of energy and action but can be insensitive.


Reliably sees things through to the end and ensures everything works well but can worry too much and not trust others.


Is able to solve difficult problems with original and creative ideas but can be a poor communicator and often ignores the details.


Is able to see the big picture and thinks carefully and accurately about things but may not be able to inspire others.


Has expert knowledge/skills in key areas and will solve many problems but may be disinterested in all other areas.


Respected leader who helps everyone focus on their task but can come across as excessively controlling.

Team worker

Cares for individuals and the team and is a good listener who works to resolve social problems but may find it hard making difficult decisions.


Is able to explore new ideas and possibilities with energy and with others and is a good networker but can lose energy after the initial burst.

A good team player:

• Understands their role in the team and how it fits within the whole picture.

• Treats others with respect and is supportive.

• Is willing to help.

• Is flexible and adaptable.

• Communicates constructively and listens actively.

• Is reliable and takes responsibility and ownership of their role.

Stages of group development (Bruce Tuckman, 1965)

1. Forming: The group comes together and gets to initially know one other.

2. Storming: A chaotic vying for leadership and trialling of group processes.

3. Norming: Eventually agreement is reached on how the group operates.

4. Performing: The group becomes effective in meeting its objectives.

5. Adjourning: The process of 'unforming' the group, that is, letting go of the group structure and moving on.

Dr Sunil Gupta is a GP in Benfleet, Essex, chair of the Professional Executive Committee, NHS South East Essex, and joint clinical director, Castle Point GP Consortium.

Dr Gupta is author of Effective GP Commissioning, a practical guide designed to provide GPs with essential knowledge, skills and attitudes to succeed as commissioners. Chapters include Assessing local health needs, Budgets and Patient safety. It is published by Radcliffe Publishing and costs £21.99. ISBN 978-1-84619-520-4

Effective teamworking in commissioning