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When to Split a Team into Smaller Units

Adding new people to a team can be disruptive. It takes a while for everyone to get accustomed to the new dynamic, for the new member to settle in, and for the usual productivity levels to return. Continually introducing new members to a team can lead to a drop in efficiency and the opposite result of what you, as a manager, are hoping to achieve.

“Bigger is not necessarily better,” is a motto you have to revisit every once in a while when you’re restructuring your organization’s teams. Here are four main signs that it’s time to split a team into smaller units.

Long Meetings

Even though this problem is commonly found in the software industry and start-ups that expand rapidly, any business can face this issue. Meetings that go over 15 minutes and possibly even 30 minutes every single day take away precious time that could be used for project work.

If your team has a handful of members, then keeping your meetings short isn’t difficult. However, if it gets to a point where your project work and communications start suffering, then it’s time to split the team up.

Delayed Decisions

Similar to the problem mentioned above, large teams can cause a significant delay in the decision-making process. Groups of over ten people have a more challenging time achieving consensus, and thus breaking them up would be a good idea.

Big teams often require management to turn to different “facilitation techniques” to speed up the process of settling on an answer. Smaller units are infinitely more efficient in decision making.

Formed Subgroups

Large teams have communication issues. Members working together on the same projects or the same sections of projects tend to form subgroups. As a result, not everyone is up to date with what’s happening in the whole team.

One of the cornerstones of thriving businesses is good communication, both internal (among coworkers) and external (with the clients). This can easily be achieved with several smaller teams instead of a single large team.

Lower Participation

Finally, if a team is considerably big, managers may not remember everyone on it. People who are active in a small group may participate less in meetings of a large team. As a consequence, you may hear fewer ideas and input than you usually would.

Additionally, it happens that a manager doesn’t even recognize someone’s voice on a conference call. This is especially confusing when most of the company is working from home.

Seamless Team Split

If you recognize any of the above signs that your team is not as effective as it can be, you might decide to split it up into smaller units. When it comes to this, make sure that you clearly communicate why you’re breaking up the large team.

Determine what the new objectives of each team are. If possible, ask where each team member wants to go to make their transition as smooth as possible.

Discover the best way to split a team into smaller units, as well as how to consistently connect with your leadership team and predictably turn them into highly engaged employees. Call me for some complimentary advice. Book an appointment at or call me at +1 (604) 943-0800.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734