Do small or large teams make for a better organizational structure for your company’s overall goals?
You might think at first that larger teams are more productive due to their overall size. On the contrary, teams of smaller sizes have an advantage over larger teams in regard to efficiency, communication, and work environment.
Five reasons small teams benefit organizational structure:
1. More Efficient
Smaller teams move faster and more efficiently than larger teams. There is less delegation of tasks, and more flexibility to change direction quicker.
Chris DeBrusk wrote in the MIT Sloan Management Review that smaller teams often produce more for the company in less amount of time. Teams can grow rapidly as demand increases, and teams can become congested and slowed down with too many people working on one project. When teams are smaller, you are able to communicate quicker, which leads to finishing a project sooner.
2. Better Communication
Smaller teams are able to communicate more effectively. There is more opportunity to work together in less structured environments. You are able to have more conversations in the work environment, which allows you to feel connected to your co-workers. This leads to being more open with the work you are doing, and can help you understand how others can contribute to the project you might currently be working on.
Meetings and presentations are a huge chunk of time and can be detrimental to a team’s progress. With smaller teams, it is more likely the amount of time spent working on projects will be less than the amount of meetings required to achieve the goal. You can also communicate progress, goals, etc. more effectively to a smaller amount of people.
3. More Individual Support
Individuals are able to be supported better on smaller teams. It is difficult to hide in the background on a small team. The team leader can also offer better support when an individual is struggling vs. an entire team. The team lead is more aware of the hardships in the individual’s life, whether that be personal or work related, and can adjust their team dynamics accordingly.
Leaders can have more intentional conversations with the individuals on their team. Due to this, each individual has the opportunity to have the support they need from their team leader. Team leaders are able to connect with their members and offer support to hear their needs, concerns, or opinions.
There is a greater amount of trust within smaller team dynamics due to less people, and often greater accountability of an individual’s work. Trust helps keep people engaged in their work to actively produce results while being proud of themselves and their team. They often feel confident in their team, and are willing to take risks and think outside of the box.
Trust can be built inside and outside of the office, whether it’s delegating tasks to another team member, or going out for a team meal. Trust also “builds the bridge between the business need for results and the human need for connection” (source). It is essential to build trust on small teams for efficiency and effective communication.
When teams are smaller there is often a better ownership of tasks. As team size grows there is a potential for employees to experience the social loafing phenomenon. This occurs when individuals decrease the work they put in as the amount of people increase. Smaller teams help to prevent social loafing, and team members better carry their weight since the team is counting on their efforts to succeed.
When someone takes ownership of their performance they are going to do their best work on the task while also allowing for contribution from other team members. They are often proud of their efforts and more willing to strive for success.
Making Large Teams Small
Large companies can also create an organizational structure of small teams, within their larger teams, to help their employees achieve their greatest potential. For example, Facebook has used cross functional teams to scale a large amount of employees to grow at exceptional speeds while having the momentum and energy of a small team.
Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, also took on a smaller teams mindset when he adopted the “two pizza rule“, meaning that if the team cannot be fed with two pizza’s, it’s too large. This is a great strategy for organizations.
For other ways to increase workplace performance, consider reading our blog on productivity.
Overall smaller teams have shown to be more productive, have a healthy team environment, and have exceptional communication.