Necessity and Benefits of Small Teams: Knowing people personally enhances organizational performance

“By the way what’s your name, I’m sorry I can’t recall” ….this is enough to feel humiliated when after working five long years in the same firm, your boss couldn’t recall your name.

Have you ever heard a manager saying to a subordinate “Do you belong to my department?” or “which market are you assigned?”

A ripple at the micro level can cause a huge wave at the macro level. Team building is one thing and team management is another. The sole aim of team management is performance.

This is the era of automation, stiff competition, targets, and cost-cutting. This is also an era of strategic movement. A manager is found to handle even as many as 30-40 people which may prove unrealistic and underperforming in the long-term. Finding a superman manager is not just hard but it is as tough as finding a lost needle in the dark. Every human has a specific capacity so also a manager. So, they should be given a team that they can really handle if the top management is indeed worried about the performances of the teams or departments. There are several reasons why team size is important for organizational performance and even maintaining organizational culture.

In this article, we are concerned about the necessity of building an interpersonal relationship, especially manger-subordinate relationships and its advantages.

What is the ideal size of a team and why is it important?

Think of a classroom in a high school. What is the ideal size of a classroom? A teacher can handle a maximum of 20-25 students if the school management is really serious about students’ performance. In India, there is a rule of 30:1at the primary level and 35:1 at the upper primary level for Government schools. In reality, even some private schools go far beyond this ratio and accommodate 50-70 students per class. Does it fetch the expected result? It cannot be. The same thing happens in organizations. Whether it is a centralized or decentralized system, no team (or department) should be so large that the team head or manager could not remember the name a team member or what they discussed with a team member in the last meeting. And most importantly, it shouldn’t be so large that a team head doesn’t have the opportunity to meet each and every member in an informal set up in the organization’s premises like in the office canteen, office lounge, resting zone, parking zone, or anywhere where the employees “gossip”.

Having an informal relationship with each of the team members and among the team members is an extremely important aspect of team performance and organizational productivity. In the formal relationship also, team leaders or manager should treat their team members like family members. This is possible when the team size is small or comfortably manageable.

Experts have their own theories and opinions. As the team grows in size, communication becomes multi-level and tough. In that condition maintaining a personal relationship with each team member becomes next to impossible.

In general, the ideal number is 6-10 employees in each unit. If a department is fairly large, it is feasible to divide it into small groups and assigning the responsibility of group management to one senior or able member of the group. Every group or team head will be answerable to the departmental manager.

Why is it necessary to have a personal relationship with an employee?

Just a formal relationship cannot bring out the best performance from an employee. As a team leader or manager, you need to be a part of their life whom they can contact for some important advice or opinion that have no link to the organization. The relationship should be so cordial you can straightforward pinpoint the faults in jobs and the employee would accept it sincerely. The environment needs to be so cordial that an employee will never take a minute to accept their faults or taking some extra responsibility without muttering. It needs to be so cordial that they will never mind sharing the launch table with them. When an employee knows their leader cares about them and concerned about their well-being in both social and organizational aspects, their attachment with the job and organization increases manifold. Is not that your ultimate goal as a team leader or manager?

We can now sum up in this way:

  • The interpersonal relationship between an employee and manager should not be restricted to a professional relationship only.
  • An interpersonal relationship should have an informal part. For team management, the informal part plays a more important role than the formal part (for team performance formal part plays a pivotal role).
  • The team head should treat the team as his extended family; knowing every team member personally makes team management rather smooth sailing.
  • Team size should be such that a manager gets the opportunity to meet every team member in any way whatsoever (even over the telephone or social media) everyday – yes, even on holidays.
  • If a department is fairly large, the manager should divide it into several groups where each group is headed by the senior-most or most capable member of the group.

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