February 28


Small Teams are Best for Productivity

By Ralph Varcoe

February 28, 2019

How can you improve team performance?

If you want to know how to do something it stands to reason that you’d ask others about it. What’s been their experience? Were there challenges they overcame, and if so how? What was their strategy? What were the things that went really well that they’d have done more of if they were running another, similar project. You’d do well to find a few people with similar expertise who had different experiences. Pulling all of this together will allow you to short-circuit some decisions, to focus on the things that worked well for others and achieve your goal more easily, or quicker.


Getting lots of people’s collective experience together is invaluable. But is it always best to have lots of people involved in a project, meeting or team? Science says no. Even before looking at the science, we’ve all had experiences of meetings with a large number of people. Half are disengaged, doing their admin or emails, a few are listening, while possibly only one or two are actively engaging. More often that not there will be a dominant alpha-type who likes the sound of their own voice spouting forth, proffering opinion and half-baked thoughts like a QC at the dispatch box. Some will be irritated that this self-absorbed individual is pontificating, but many will be delighted that they don’t have to interact or concentrate and can get on with finishing their Ocado shop, or social media love-in, on company time.

The one thing that everyone will agree on afterwards, perhaps with the exception of the ego, is that the meeting didn’t achieve much and was a complete waste of time. An expensive one at that. The next time you’re in a meeting like this try to work out how much the meeting has cost - guess everyone’s salary, calculate the hourly rate per person, then multiple by the number of people and the hours wasted. It’ll be a lot!

Now think back to a meeting that you’ve held with just one other person where the objective was clear and you got something achieved. How long was the meeting? How much did it cost? Did you come out with a clear set of agreements or an action plan? I’d bet you that it was cheaper, faster and more productive. Why? Because with only two of you, you have no choice but to engage, to work through the agenda, and you have the opportunity to make decisions without others offering their 2-cents.

Science can explain why large groups are bad for productivity and your personal performance.

Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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