Small Team Dynamics: How and Why We're Awesome

Justin and I are an amazing team. Then again, we kind of have to be as a two-person team. Before Justin decided I was worthy of being his insubordinate subordinate, I had always worked on fairly large teams--12 or so people in small companies. I have to say that not a day has gone by since I left my last job that I've missed having a larger team. With it being just the two of us, we get a much higher volume of work done faster and better than I've ever seen happen on larger teams.

The benefits: We don't have to:

  • run our ideas by a room full of people to reach a consensus
  • wait for internal bureaucracy to approve every last little project or purchase
  • waste time having meetings
  • waste even more time having meetings about other meetings
  • spend a chunk of the day responding to emails from other team members
  • work around each other's in/out time to work on a group project
  • send emails back and forth to keep everyone in IT in the loop
  • stay locked in to vendor relationships set up by higher-ups
  • consider ease of use for others when we set up new IT tools

The disadvantages: We do have to:

  • carefully prioritize projects and helpdesk tickets when we're busy
  • be on-call 24/7 (thankfully afterhours calls are rare)
  • schedule vacations and PTO days so that one of us is still available

The awesome aspects: We get to:

  • explore IT communities to help fill any knowledge gaps 
  • learn something new every day
  • have a 24-hour line of communication open with each other
  • choose software based on how well it fits our workflows
  • utilize open source software wherever we deem it appropriate
  • divide work fairly and play to each other's strengths
  • make stupid jokes and complain about the same people and problems
  • learn about each other as individuals, making teamwork more personal

Because it's just us, we've had the luxury of forming a genuine friendship. Work hardly feels like work when you get to collaborate with a friend for 8 hours (and get paid for it). On larger teams, I've often felt suffocated by the impersonal and superficial nature of interactions. For the longest time, I thought work friendships were both an impossibility and a waste of time, but moving from a 12-person team to being half of a 2-person team has proven those thoughts to be unwarranted. Our workdays together feel like they fly by, but by the volume of tickets we work on and close, you'd think we were either a 5-person team or working double shifts every day. You might think that there would be extreme burnout from a 2-person team having to work so hard, but the dynamic we have seems to prevent intense burnout from happening.

If you've come to the last few sentences to get a recap, you're in luck. Being such a small team is AWESOME. Because we've gotten to know each other personally as a product of being a 2-person team, work doesn't feel like a chore. And we get to do whatever the hell we want (within reason) in our environment.

What's your team like? Tell us in the comments!