The number of people holding a meeting at a given time has a direct impact on the quantity and quality of the interactions among them.
Alain Cardon says:
3-way interactions are three times more complex than one-to-one interactions;
Alain Cardon (2003), Coaching de Equipos, p. 43
This is part of the complexity and richness of teams and as such should be accepted, managed, and fully integrated in the visible, explicit dynamics of teams. Failing to do so may bring a great loss of positive energy, synergy, connectedness, and commitment with the team and its tasks. One-direction interactions between a team leader / coordinator / facilitator and the rest of the team as a whole may be needed at specific times for specific purposes, but they should be as brief and exceptional as possible if the team is to become or stay a healthy and functional one. One person can help a team manage its dynamics, but she or he cannot replace it.
Special attention must be paid to moments when, instead of having regularly multiple members of the team engaged in whatever is being done / talked about, only two of them, usually the same ones, are the ones who seem to carry on, while the rest remain silent, and rather passive, as if they were mere spectators. The bigger the team, the more likely this is to happen. Kevin Coyne, Patricia G. Clifford, and Renée Dye say that
In almost all meetings of ten or more people, the social norm is
According to the same authors, a simple preventive way to manage this risk would be to break into small groups:
In contrast, observe what happens when a manager breaks a
Kevin Coyne, Patricia G. Clifford y Renée Dye, "Breakthrough
Thinking from Inside the Box", HBR. December 2007, p.76.
Look for smallness, bring it into the room as needed. It will bring you closer to get a better atmosphere, and better results.
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