Far too many businesses have made the mistake of assuming productivity levels can be raised by increasing the size of a team.

In reality, those large teams often cause far more problems then they’re worth, with work distributed thinly, without real leadership and without much buy-in from staff.

Why does team size matter?

Large and small teams operate in very different ways, but it’s the problems that can be found within each one that need to be identified and addressed.

For instance, if your team is too small, it might have a skills gap. If it’s too big, projects may quickly get swallowed up by unproductive hours as no one takes ownership of the overall goal.

This is why assembling the right-sized team is so important. It’s a balancing act between budget and the optimal number of people – and that’s not an easy tightrope to cross. This can be bolstered by the use of productivity apps (check out this great guide to Kanban), but that’s not enough.

When it comes to teams within a business, size always matters. There’s no standard team size for any industry, either, which is why business owners need to focus on what matters for their operation, rather than being influenced by others.

Finding the best size for a highly productive team

As noted above, there’s no such thing as a ‘standard size’ for teams, but there is an optimal size for every business that will result in high levels of productivity.

Here’s how to find your magic number.

  1. Identify what you’re trying to accomplish

Your business has its own goals and growth aspirations, and they should directly impact your search for the perfect sized team.

For instance, if you’re a start-up with a limited budget and focus purely on getting a product off the ground, a small, skilled team makes absolute sense. If, on the other hand, you’re a large, established business that can’t fulfil orders quick enough due to accelerated growth, a large team will help you scale.

Before recruiting, have a think about what the team in question needs to accomplish. What skills do you need within it to reach your goals?


  1. Define the roles (type and quantity)

It’s important to think about the number of roles you need for your team, but just make sure you focus on the roles that are unique. This will ensure you don’t have any skills gaps and remove the chance of adding ‘too many cooks’. By avoiding the perils of having too many people within the same role, you’ll increase productivity and reduce your staffing overheads – it really is that simple.

  1. Think about deadlines

Lastly, the size of a team can fluctuate, depending on the task in hand. For instance, if you’ve got a one-off project coming up that needs skills you don’t currently have within the team, external assistance will temporarily boost numbers without becoming a burden in the future once the current project is completed.

Likewise, if the only deadline is working towards your business’s larger goal, the size of the team needs to be considered for the future. How will it cope if workloads increase? Will the size now prove to be a problem in future if revenues take a dip? Always align your team strategy with that of your business forecasting. You won’t always get it right, but it’s better to be prepared!

Wrapping up

There’s nothing wrong with having a big team, but as we’ve demonstrated, it shouldn’t be a strategy used for improving productivity. If you need a bigger team, your business is probably growing, which is fantastic, but if you’re struggling to get things done at the most basic level, stay small, stay humble and look for the root cause of the problem.