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What Is the Ideal Team Size for Getting Things Done?
Team research continues to affirm the fact that smaller teams outperform larger teams. Teams of 4-6 people make higher-quality decisions and address issues more effectively.
The trend toward inclusive leadership has expanded the size of all teams, including those teams tasked with a specific work assignment. This trend has diluted the power of work teams to get things done. Teams with more members fulfill the need to create a more inclusive work culture but undermine the ability of those teams to achieve quality outcomes and decisions.
The good news is that there is no need to compromise on either issue.
Including more people in teams where they can update, brainstorm, discuss, and debate important issues creates ownership and engagement. As long as a team does not expand beyond the size where everyone can be heard and make their view known in a meeting, larger teams galvanize the commitment team members have for the organization.
But good leaders don’t ask larger teams to achieve specific tasks or decisions. Instead, they clearly delineate the assignment and create a temporary work team made up of team members with the right skills to tackle it.
Hand-selecting a smaller team comprised of team members who have diverse views, experiences, and skills that align directly with the task or assignment in question offers the highest probability for great outcomes.
These smaller teams are distinct from the idea of a task force, as they often tackle multiple assignments together. More importantly, the members should not be representative of a larger team but selected specifically for their unique skills or expertise related to the challenge.
For leaders, the question to ask and answer is: What composition of 4-6 people would give us the best chance to achieve this task with excellence?
Weaving the synergies between large and small teams is commonplace for the best leaders. They include more people in the conversation while getting important things done in smaller teams. As Michelangelo is said to have suggested, “Perfection is no small thing, but it is made up of small things.” That works for teams, as well.