Posted by Cathy Reilly

NEW NEW NEWiStock_11811829 Agile HR handstand 300x356 copy.jpgIn Part 3 of our series on Agile HR, I’m looking at the advantages working in smaller
HR teams can bring. I want to mention right up front that I am not suggesting that HR departments eliminate jobs or cut anyone! This is about effectiveness and working in a new “smaller” way with what you already have in order to innovate and accomplish more.

The great thing about teams, especially smaller ones, is that they can be easily formed for whatever purpose is needed. A special project, a new initiative, problem solving, research, a distinct event, an annual process, or a beta-test might be some of the reasons in HR that you’d form a team. Teams can either be ongoing or short-term. They offer great agility with regard to how you form them, run them and size them. Next time there’s a department challenge or a need and you find yourself calling for a team, try going smaller.

Here are my 5 reasons why smaller HR teams are better:

  1. Less Noise. When fewer people are involved, staying focused on the matter at hand is much easier.  If things start going off track, it’s much easier to reel in a smaller group than a bigger one. Also, with more people on a team, it seems to lend itself to splintering fractions, sub-groups within the group and sidebars, which all add up to less cohesiveness.
  2. More Accountability. There’s no hiding in a smaller group. Each member plays a unique, vital role and has a genuine purpose. This gives each team member not only a seat front and center, but a voice to report their findings, offer suggestions or provide expertise and knowledge sharing. This keep motivation much higher than being part of an overly crowded team where being heard can reach competitive levels or might even discourage contributions.

  3. More Empowerment. With more accountability, comes more empowerment. When employees are able to “own” something, they tend to work differently. That is, they take control of a process. As “owners”, they work more (proactively) like managers who drive tasks rather than worker bees carrying out orders (reactively). Employees place high value feeling in control and knowing that their work matters.
  1. More Interaction. Tight teams mean working more closely and more directly together. That’s engaging. Communications become clearer and simpler, and recipient’s response rates improve when the headcount is smaller. It’s a great way to eliminate all the excess emails that everyone gets copied in on that not everyone reads anyway. That’s also how balls get dropped.

  2. More Timeliness. Working in smaller teams saves time. Scheduling meetings is faster with fewer calendars to mesh. Starting and ending meetings on time is easier when fewer attend. Smaller teams mean smaller meetings, and smaller meetings have a better chance of running on time and being more productive; all a positive impact. Somehow, smaller teams organically seem to take on a “let’s get down to work” feel right from the start.

Being assigned to a smaller HR team can make each team member feel special and important when they know each person on the team was hand-picked for one of only a few, exclusive slots. It carries a certain amount of cachet with it, signifying that team members are amongst the finest of the kind for the team’s mission. A morale builder for sure.   

For me, there is one additional perspective on the concept of smaller HR teams that I will share. It gives the opportunity for leadership and recognition of staff. Given that promotions in many HR departments are limited, being able to create smaller teams and assign leaders from amongst the staff for each team, presents opportunities for more leadership roles. It provides a forum for staff to step up, shine and help lead the department and company forward. It’s what I would call a win all the way around and a step in the right direction of becoming more agile in HR.

How many ways can your department benefit from smaller HR teams?

Topics: Human Resources

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