If you’re in charge of putting together work teams or committees, you’ve probably thought about what the most productive amount of people to have on a team is and how to build the best team. Despite the amusing old adage that the best results come from a committee of one (think Albert Einstein!), having others on your team fosters innovation and distributes burden, allowing you to achieve your goal faster and more efficiently.
Why does team size matter?
Teams of various sizes behave in different ways. If you don’t find the right balance when it comes to the size of your team, you could wind up with a slew of avoidable issues. Teams that are too small risk a skills gap in a critical area, while teams that are too large risk losing productivity and cohesion.
While each team and organization has its own set up of personnel, there are some universal standards that have been proven accurate across a wide range of companies in hundreds of studies conducted throughout the world. Size does matter when it comes to teams. There is no single number that everyone agrees is the greatest because it varies depending on a lot of factors, but it is absolutely something to consider when forming a working group.
The size question has been asked since the dawn of social psychology, emerging from the early work of Maximilian Ringelmann, a French agricultural engineer born in 1861 who discovered that the more people who pulled on a rope, the less effort each individual contributed. In today’s business world, teams are everywhere.
Tips to determine the best size for your work team
So, how can you figure out what size is best for your team? These are questions that millions of businesses around the world have raised. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for all businesses, as the size of the team is entirely dependent on the task at hand.
What is the team aiming to accomplish?
Different organizations have different requirements. A team of painters, for example, can never be too large because a larger team will paint the building faster than a smaller crew. A corporate team of auditors, on the other hand, will not have the same effect and may see more negative outcomes as a result of having an overly large group.
How many different roles are necessary to accomplish the team goal?
What is the minimum amount of different roles your team requires to succeed? You must make sure that the team does not have any skill gaps, as this could block success and lead to frustration. However, you should avoid putting too many employees on the same team who have comparable work abilities and duties because they will lose interest and productivity.
What is the deadline?
To complete all of the necessary tasks on schedule, work that must be completed fast may necessitate a larger workforce with more working power. This is especially true if the tasks do not necessitate much imagination. Smaller teams with more cohesion and constructive conversation about the job are better for longer-term initiatives.
Who is the manager?
Significant developments in the workplace have made it much more challenging to manage today’s personnel. Increased remote working, mixed teams (mix of office and remote workers), digitization, automation, merging work and life, and creating diverse and inclusive environments all provide challenges. Furthermore, many employees today have higher expectations, expecting continuing mentoring and growth rather than merely following orders and having work transferred to them.
Examining employee engagement in teams of various sizes is one technique to solve the topic of appropriate team size. Gallup reports on measuring the levels of involvement of 3 million teams (source). The number of people on each of these teams varied greatly. Teams with less than 10 members had the highest and lowest levels of engagement. Teams with fewer team members can be influenced more easily in one direction or another. In these smaller teams, team leaders appear to have more opportunities for influence, both good and bad.
Is it in-person or virtual?
It’s easy to see why creating virtual teams is appealing. Employees have greater flexibility in managing their professional and personal lives, and they have the option to communicate and hold team meetings with colleagues from all over the world. Companies can hire the best and cheapest global talent while lowering their real estate costs dramatically.
Small virtual teams (fewer than ten persons) are the most effective. According to a study conducted by OnPoint Consulting, the worst performing virtual teams comprised 13 or more members (source). The main issue is ensuring that everyone is included in the conversation. It takes only 10 conversations for everyone in a five-person team to get to know each other, but it takes 78 conversations for a 13-person team to do the same. As a result, don’t assemble too many players to maximize your group’s effective communication and success.
Is there an ideal team size for a team building event?
The widely accepted answer
The widely regarded ideal size for a work team, according to Katherine Klein of Wharton University, is five people (source). When a team has more than five members, individual performance suffers, whereas teams with fewer than five members may encounter problematic team dynamics and ability gaps. In a team of five, people are in a better position to problem solve, communicate, and achieve success.
Klein’s findings are consistent with those of other scholars throughout the world who have attempted to address the same topic. Because the dynamics of even vs odd numbered teams can produce some variations in opinion, the second most typical answer to the topic of ideal working team size is six people.
Creating your ideal team
Ultimately, you should consider your organization’s needs as well as the reasons for building a team. Why do you need to build a functioning team, and how many individuals will you need to meet the demands placed on your team?
Don’t worry about the team’s size as much as you should about the more crucial aspects of team performance, such as the ability to work effectively together, filling all required responsibilities, and diversifying the team. Furthermore, any team building activity can be changed or adjusted to meet the needs and requirements of different group sizes.
Want to organize a team building activity?
Choose an objective
You must keep in mind that you are planning an activity simply for the fun of it. Team-building is primarily concerned with developing certain areas that have the potential to benefit your business in the long run. Rather than focusing on the broad concept of team building, you should devote time and attention to specific sub-areas in which your company can greatly benefit.
To do so, you’ll need to know what exact goals you want the activity to focus on. Furthermore, these goals should be in line with your company’s needs, structure, and culture.
Select an activity
Following the selection of your specific objectives, you must have a clear understanding of the kind of actions that will help you achieve these goals. Knowing what your staff want to do is the best way to tackle this. Whether you like it or not, putting company culture at the core of decision-making aimed at enhancing workplace relations will not help. You’ll need to go beyond what the company feels is best and solicit suggestions from your staff.
You want events that your employees can participate in while also encouraging them to collaborate. Consider thinking outside the box, or at the very least giving conventional team-building games and activities a new spin.
Consider the location
First of all you need to decide whether the event will take place in-person or virtually. Regardless, your employees need to feel like the activity isn’t taking place on company time, it’s always ideal to hold it somewhere new where they can focus on creating rapport.
For this, you may want to choose a location where your staff will feel at ease and have the opportunity to learn more about one another. After all, it’s difficult to establish a relationship with a coworker if you just know each other at work.
Track the results
Ultimately, team-building is a process that takes time. In reality, it is a commitment that your company must uphold. The importance of team-building cannot be overstated. It should be treated as a long-term investment by your company. After all, how effectively your staff relate to one another and find value in what they do will determine how successful your business is.
Contact Kronos Experience if you have a new team or want to improve the performance of an existing one. We offer a variety of team building virtual and live events to assist group members and help them collaborate more successfully.