Don’t have any more teammates than this amount…if you want your team to succeed

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Sure…. There’s power in numbers! Working in teams can save us much time when diverse minds come together to solve a given problem. But does a bigger team mean more productivity?

More often than not, larger teams take more time deliberating to come to a decision. Some members get lost in the mix of a bigger group and partake in side conversations.  

We’ve all been stuck in a predicament where we ended up doing all the work while others tend to be in the outskirts drifting away from the work. Ask any college student & they’ll tell you that group projects are a living hell!

This is a phenomenon social psychologists term social loafing where a person exerts less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group compared to when they work solo-dolo.

This happens in sports teams, corporate led groups and even book clubs. Throw eight people together to work on a quarter project and your bound to have pitfalls.

Here are a few tricks to devising a successfully ran team:

1: First, Size Does Matter

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Bigger teams run higher risk for less productivity and smaller chances of cohesiveness. Between side chatter and reduced effort, bigger is not always better. So, what is the ideal size team you ask?

The number all the experts use: 4.6!

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But since you can’t have 1 and .6th of a person…. We will go with 5! Five is your lucky number! Anything greater than that than you run the risk of social loafing and/or groupthink to take precedence.  

Groupthink is the practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, yet the individual probably had other ideas they wish were decided upon.

2: Creativity Over Communication!

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When groups are devised of more than 5 members, the chances for individual creativity go down the drain. Usually, one idea is decided upon and chances are, it’s an idea that is mediocre at best in order for the project just to get done rather than for the team to excel at.

Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, was reported standing up at a conference led by innovators and shouted, “No! Communication is actually terrible!” He wanted a disorganized company where independent ideas would prevail over groupthink.

Could you imagine a work environment of thousands of employees scattered throughout cubicles all gung-ho about their individualistic ideas? Yeah, it may cause for some havoc in the beginning, but just imagine the innovation and creativity of the solid ideas the company could use because employees were actually able go with their ideas.

Communication is needed for any successful company to run, yes, but Bezos was more interested in allowing innovation and independent decision-making to thrive, which aided the right communication to take place rather than just more communication to occur.

Bigger teams produce more communication hurdles. Smaller teams enjoy more fluid-like and unprompted communication.

3: Odd Man Out!

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If you absolutely have to use more than 5 individuals for a given team (which is not suggested), then make sure you go with an odd number.

This prevents ties and improves the odds of making a correct decision when using majority rules.

In an experiment with discussion groups and in an analysis of dormitory groupings at Harvard, the researchers found that even-numbered groups resulted either in stalemate (e.g., two against two) or domination (e.g., three against one).

In odd-numbered groups, disagreement often implies a swing vote (e.g., two against one), which encourages the majority to tread more carefully. One caveat is that the odd-number
effect is less powerful in groups that are more diverse, because those
groups are less cohesive in the first place.

4: Diversity is key

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Yes, birds of the same feather, flock together! But, when working with teams, you are going to want some different color feathers for optimal outcomes.

You are going to want to devise a team or join of team that is made up of different skillsets, backgrounds and ideas. Diversity among employees can create better performance when it comes to out-of-the-ordinary creative tasks such as product development or cracking new markets.

 Speaking of teams in college- enjoy this picture from a team I worked with almost 10 years ago. Some of these folks have turned into best friends and all of them are doing outstanding work in their personal and professional lives. We has a large executive board, but very often broke into groups of four for planning and project management purposes! 

Speaking of teams in college- enjoy this picture from a team I worked with almost 10 years ago. Some of these folks have turned into best friends and all of them are doing outstanding work in their personal and professional lives. We has a large executive board, but very often broke into groups of four for planning and project management purposes!