Training tip for group sizes and dynamics
It is often said that bigger is better, an in many things in life it may well be true, but when it come to training it is often said that small group size is best. That is sort of true, but not universally.
Pros of big groups:
- economies of scale
- more ideas, thoughts & contributions
Cons of big groups
- people can hide
- we don’t know if people are learning
Pros of small groups
- one to one attention
- meet individual needs
Cons of small groups
- limited group / social learning
When it comes to system or training a complex technical subject, then sometimes “bigger” groups are best.
By bigger groups I mean 8-14 people, Less than 8 people and there is a risk that people wont “spark” off of each other, and thus questions that might be asked are often retained in the thoughts of the participants, I know our goal is to enable people to feel comfortable with asking questions, but the reality is that many people are “not yet ready” to ask questions they feel may “make them look silly”.
Groups of 8-14, can be be split into smaller practical groups, for that one-to-one attention, and still retain the dynamic of social learning, something that is harder to sustain in larger or smaller groups.
In society groups or committees of 7-12 people is common for informed opinion, bigger or smaller than this and we get what is known as “group think” occur, and the real issues are often missed. Bigger than this and sometimes the group becomes unstable and difficult.
So what does this mean?
Well for training, training very small groups just does not work. People are “in attendance”, but they do not necessarily engage.
For organisational wide training, this means we need to have medium size groups to balance effectiveness and social learning.
This has been reinforced in Unity training in recent months, the least effective trainings are very small or larger groups. So the lesson is simple, if you want effective learning, manage your group size