I like to say that in the virtual space numbers become exponential. Adding one person is not just adding one person on, it’s adding on a whole set of layers – different styles, different perspectives, different priorities and different contexts. This can make larger groups especially challenging in the virtual space.
Here’s what I wrote in Effective Virtual Conversations,
Less is more. Small is beautiful. Whichever cliché appeals to you, the fact is that group size in the virtual realm does not always have to be large. Again, think back to the level of engagement and interaction you want to foster. In developing trust and connection, smaller is definitely better—so if you are a coach reading this book, aim to create your virtual groups on the smaller side. As I mentioned previously, optimum group size from my experience has been around 4-8 members for virtual groups. While we can support more than that on a call, the more voices we have in the room, the more exponential the differences. We’re not just adding one person—we’re adding a whole new web of relationships.
This has been reinforced by research done by Richard Hackman—mentioned by Keith Ferrazzi in his article “Getting Virtual Teams Right.” Hackman found that it only takes 10 conversations for every person on a team of five to touch base with everyone else, but when the number of team members increases to 13, the number of conversations necessary jumps to 78![i]”
(Excerpt: Effective Virtual Conversations, 2017, Jennifer Britton, All Rights Reserved)
What do you know about size in the groups and teams you work in? What is the optimum size for the teams you work with?
What happens when you add in one more team member, or lose a team member?
Author of multiple books including Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), Coaching Business Builder (2018) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
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