The Best Size for Project Teams

Best Size for Project Teams

What is the best size for project teams?  Most project teams at our clients range from 4 to 20 people across multiple disciplines, styles, and backgrounds. Are large or small teams more effective? Is throwing more people on a project an effective way to get more done, faster?

When it comes to project team size, more resources are not always better. According to an experiment by Bradley R. Staats of the University of North Carolina, Katherine L. Milkman of Wharton, and Craig R. Fox of UCLA, two-person teams took an average of just 36 minutes to assemble 50 Lego pieces into a human figure, while four-person teams required 52 minutes.  So when it comes to the best size for teams is smaller always better?

We do know that the more people on a team or project, the more you need to have clear goals, defined and agreed-upon roles and responsibilities, effective decision-making, problem solving and communication skills, and a strong team leader who is willing to learn and adjust along the way.

Based upon feedback from hundreds of project team members, our project post mortem results  back up the idea that when it comes to the best size for project teams – smaller is more often better. While it is difficult to determine the perfect number for any given project team, try to limit your core project teams to as few people as possible.

Teams with too many project team members:

  • Take longer to define project goals, roles, success metrics, and resources requirements
  • Dilute project risk management plans and have more inaccurate forecasting
  • Have difficulty coordinating tasks and project schedules in a timely manner
  • Show lower levels of employee engagement and overall teamwork
  • Report increased conflict, delayed decision making and lower project results
  • Miss deliverables, deadlines, and quality standards more frequently

To learn more about leading effective project teams and to see if your project leaders are on the right track, download the Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader

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