Team Size – Does it Matter?

My answer is typically…it depends.

It depends on the purpose of the team.

The challenge on many teams is a lack of clarity about a team’s true purpose. In most cases, team’s don’t even know that they don’t know their purpose.

This is usually a bigger issue at the senior leadership team level, where a CEO, VP, or Director leads a
team of other leaders.

When a team’s purpose isn’t clear, it often results in ambiguity of what the team should be doing together and a waste of time and energy. Meaningful items don’t get on the agenda, and then senior leaders end up playing the role of senior project managers.

So, what is your team’s purpose? Is it simply to share information? Or should your team be making decisions?

If your team’s purpose is simply to share information, team size can be up to 10, 20, 30 or even 40 people.

But, if your team’s purpose is to make decisions, a team size of 8 people or less is appropriate.

Overly large teams don’t give room for the debate that needs to happen for team members to get committed to decisions. They also make it difficult to create and maintain norms that will enable the team to work together effectively. An overly large team with a lack of norms results in very little beyond information sharing.

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