Group Projects are just dreadful. We all know they are. Even if a person says that they enjoy group projects… they just might not be telling the truth. Group projects are one of the most challenging pieces of work to deal with. We may start from a young age learning that “sharing is caring” but then as we get older, sometimes we see that not everyone follows that motto… especially when it comes to sharing the workload of a project. But how do we survive group projects? Let’s take a look at how to deal with those different personalities that you will face and learn how to work together to get that grade you want.
If you are allowed to choose the members of your team, then make sure you choose wisely! Let’s start off with Tip #1, shall we?
1. Important Criteria You Should Look For In Your Team Members:
- Work Ethic
- Is this person known for doing their work on time? Do they do their own work well?
- Are they a more laid back type? Are they more of a type-A and maybe a dominating type?
- Other commitments that they have and other features
- Are they too busy to come to meetings after school? Do they live really far away from you?
- How much do you know about their personal life?
- Do they have personal struggles that you know about? Do they have family to take care of?
It’s important for you to know the above features so that you can survive group projects. By knowing their work ethic you can make sure that you have a strong player on your team that is committed to getting the work done and not just relying on you. Obviously, knowing a team member on a personal level is a challenge and sometimes not feasible, but if you are close with a potential member, you can take some personal factors into consideration and decide if they are a suitable partner for you. The most important part is that if you know some of their struggles, you can work together with this individual to overcome problems by also taking their mental health into condition- something that everyone should do; don’t keep mental health as a stigma!
Again, you shouldn’t judge someone’s ability to work by factors going on in their personal life, but it could help you understand how you should approach work with this other person: should you take it easy with them because you know they will get the work done… or should you give them a gentle reminder to stay on top of their work?
Understanding their personality can also help you decide if they are a team leader or a team member. This is essential when dividing up content for the group project. The leaders tend to either distribute more work to others and put their effort in leading, or they tend to take on a bigger workload themselves. Take the time to also decide what type of personality YOU have. When you understand the different types of people that the group projects consist of, you will have a better grasp at being able to tackle the challenges that come along with each person
2. Know Your Place In A Project
You can’t just expect a project to be done all by yourself, or by you doing nothing at all. Going into an assignment with this attitude is likely to lead to no progress at all. Instead, keep in mind what you have to offer to any sort of assignment. Are you a visual learner that likes to express their work in pictures instead of words? Are you a person that likes to go ahead and write paragraphs to get the point across? Or do you prefer to make models and dioramas of situations to express your learning? Even if the assignment criteria requires you to write a report together, if you know your strengths you can decide what questions (from the report) that YOU can answer the best.
3. Divide work based on equity- not necessarily equality
For example, if a business report asks you to come up with new tactics that a franchise could employ for it to grow bigger, consider giving that question to the member of your group that is interested in the field of business or has experience that will pose useful for the question.
4. Set Multiple Meeting Dates For Your Group
It’s essential to have clear goals that all your team members can try and pursue during your time together. So, set up a clear timeline with all the measurable checkpoints that you can accomplish for the project. Remember, communication is KEY. It is important to constantly be in communication with your group members when you are working on a project. Any lack of communication can result in a project that goes from an A to a C+, especially if someone is not on the same page as the rest of the group members. To keep up the communication in the group, consider having multiple meeting dates.
It doesn’t have to be all dry and dreary when you meet up with the members. You can choose a nice cafe (with WIFI!) or even your local library. Face-to-face communication is essential to ensure that people are on the same page and keeping up with the measurable goals you all have set.
5. Create A Group Chat To Discuss Your Work and Progress
It’s the age of technology and so creating a group chat is a MUST if you want to survive a group project. Group chats are essential tools that allow you to make sure you all are on the same page and are keeping up with the work. They serve a great purpose of letting members remind each other of what work there is to be done, and you can also share in a good meme or two in there to ease the stress that can accumulate over time. There’s Facebook Messenger, iMessage if everyone in your group has an iPhone, and even apps like WhatsApp that will allow you to communicate easily and effectively.
6. Choose A Leader Together
Another tactic that can be employed is to try and have leaders in charge of different aspects of a project. This should only be used if the assignment is much larger or if you want to have a club type of approach to the work. With different people in charge of different aspects, peoples’ focus can be directed to what they do best and each individual will be held accountable for their section of the work.
7. Voice Your Opinion And Don’t Be Afraid To Call Someone Out
The most important tip of all! The best way to survive a group project is to make sure your voice is heard. Don’t let others shut down your opinion automatically, and continue to be diplomatic about the situation. It’s important for you to let the group members know what you think are some good ideas for the project, but continue to follow the idea of ‘majority rules’. It’s also imperative that you don’t let a group member get carried away and resort to doing nothing for the project. Make sure that you and others are on track by calling out other peoples’ BS if needed. No, it’s not being mean. It’s called being practical.
I’ve had many group projects where people don’t do any work and they disappear only to appear out of the blue when the project is over. Don’t let this happen! Keep people on track by encouraging them to continue to work on the project! If they aren’t doing anything- call them out! The worst that could happen is a small argument, but even then… at least you can get the words off your chest!
Did we learn how to survive group projects?
I hope some of these tips and ideas help you on your next group assignment. Let me know if you have other tips and comments about how you dealt with some unhelpful team members or even send me a great story that happened to you!
Till next time,