Why Some Teams Work Smarter

We’re forever champions of the power of small groups. But small group meetings often feel like an unproductive, endless bust. Or - possibly worse - we don't know just how productive they can be.

There are parameters meant to keep teams attentive to their goals and action steps: meetings should never stray over an hour; focus on resolving no more than two program or learning objectives; share logistics in bite-sized chunks.

It all adds up to an eyes-on-the-prize kind of structure.

But reaching the prize isn't always the most important step. It matters how small groups get to their goals, and a better process for teamwork can ultimately lead to better results.

A recent New York Times piece on teamwork identified the three characteristics that set successful small groups apart: (1) equal contributions in discussion, (2) empathy, and (3) the number of women involved.

What matters most, it turns out, is whether we hear and understand each other, and emotion-reading is an ability that women tend to score higher on (studies show).

So, the next time a small group meeting doesn’t live up to its potential, check your gut: Are there opportunities to increase collaboration? Have I considered what others in the group feel, know, and believe? Has anyone else?

For the love of all things good in the world, let us bring an end to stale small group meetings and usher in an age of effective teamwork. After all, there’s no excuse anymore.