Why Are Small Groups So Hard? Conflict Management Strategies

Why Are Small Groups So Hard?

How to Manage
Written by Carol Bowser

Why are small workgroups so hard to manage?

“I have managed a group of 35 direct reports. This group of eight is harder to manage than the 35!”

Sound familiar? If things become more complicated with more variable, why is it that smaller work groups are so much harder to manage than larger ones?

Simple. The smaller the workgroup the more you may know about the individual members. Their preferences. Their foibles. Their history. Because you know more about them, they expect more of you and they expect more of each other. More flexibility. More one-on-one attention. More forgiveness maybe less accountability.

For example: “We all know that Grace is constantly late with assignments and has a short fuse, but her mom is sick so we let it go.”


“He has been like that for years-short tempered and cranky. That is just him. We let it go.”

It is fine to have close relationships at work. It is not OK to have relationships that are enabling, co-dependent, or unproductive.