Who here has ever met a person who actually enjoys a group project? No one? We didn’t think so. Coordinating a group project can result in a hot mess of unequal work, miscommunication, and unspoken resentment. When the time comes for you and your group mates to reluctantly push your desks together, think about these tips!
1. Introduce yourself
Yeah, learn names, but also get to know each other a little bit better. Ask about majors, favorite TV shows, or their grandma’s secret chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s easier to work with people you sorta-kinda know and sets the tone for comfortable get-togethers.
2. Do your part
Do not be that one social loafer that pushes the work onto everyone else. I don’t think I need to say anymore.
3. Be inclusive of other people and their ideas
Make decisions together by asking for opinions and listening to them.
4. Strike a balance between listening to others and voicing your opinion
Go around the circle and take turns. The nice thing about collaboration is that you get to play both parts: leader and follower.
5. Keep the criticism constructive
A good way to approach this is to say one thing you like about the work and one way to improve it.
6. Show up for meetings on time out of respect for your group members
Be sure to come prepared and have your portion of the work done.
7. Don’t re-do other’s work if it’s not done correctly
It’s okay to ask them to do it again and hold people responsible for their part. Just be specific with changes they need to make, and be kind about it.
8. When you have meetings with your group, do your best to stay focused on the task at hand
Group projects typically take a lot of work, and waiting until the last minute to get everything done may throw the dynamic out-of-whack.
9. Keep it lighthearted
Generate a creative atmosphere by showing enthusiasm, making jokes, and withholding judgment. The more relaxed you are with your group, the easier it is for everyone to voice their suggestions.
10. Do not place blame on your peers
When it comes down to it, you are a team. If there’s conflict, try to talk it out like the responsible adults you keep telling your parents you are. Try thinking through the perspective of your partner, and maybe that will help you understand their point of view a little better. If the problem is bigger than you, you may involve your professor. But proceed with caution; going to a professor with a petty, inconsequential issue may reflect poorly on you.
Congratulations! You are now a group project guru. Don’t be surprised when people are tripping over themselves trying to get on your team! Group projects still may not be your cup of tea, but knowing how to interact and cooperate with others is a crucial skill to making it in the real world.