Whether you’re in a group project with your best friends, or you’ve been assigned a group by your instructor, there are pros and cons to both situations.

If you’re with your best friends, at least you know exactly what you’re getting into, whether it’s good or bad. On the other hand, being thrown into a group with “randoms” can often seem like a catastrophe, but sometimes things work out and you and your group end up with a work-of-art grade.

There are several steps between getting assigned a group and creating a catastrophe or a work-of-art grade, but it usually boils down to attitude, which is often the only thing you can control in these situations (besides the work you put in). There’s nothing wrong with disliking your group members, but no one wants a “Bitter Bailey."

Even if your attitude sparkles, sometimes the group’s “melancholy Mike” might try to pull you into the orbit of his sadness. There’s nothing you can do that’s more effective defending against their gravitational pull then showering them with kindness.

Of course, there’s more than one way to get through a project without issue, but it’s important to remember most members probably won’t appreciate passive aggressive behavior, so you’ve got to be frugal with your attempts.

Once you’ve gotten to know your group, you’re now working fluidly with your partners ready to divide tasks between each other. 

Speaking of work, where is the fourth group member? Weren’t they the one who said they wanted to meet tonight? I can’t imagine they actually had something better to do, but they did say they knew what day it is we are meeting. Did you try texting them? Are they answering calls?

By the time your project is finished, you’ll be wondering where the time has gone. You’ll know everyone’s name and probably have made a friend or an enemy or two. The only thing left you have to stomach is likely a peer review. Believe it or not, it will be better for everyone if you give them a good review, regardless of their input, despite what happened with the fourth group member who still hasn’t been seen or heard from in months passed (are they okay?).

It’s one last hoorah for the “showering them with kindness” routine. Write it as if they were reading it over your shoulder, because you will never know who your next boss will be, and you never know if their attitude sparkles.

 It’s extremely common for people to blame their group members for the outcome of an assignment. Although it may be true to a certain degree, if you really want an “A” on the assignment, it is possible for one person to crank out a four-person project. The only control you have is over yourself, and if you lead by example, sometimes others will follow. It’s definitely a more-effective technique than arguing with team members and putting each other down. 

There’s never going to be a group of people in which you love every person equally (at least from my experience). There will always be differences between group members, and those differences can make or break how long the time feels working on the project. But, if successfully synergized, a team full of unique members can destroy their competition if they work as a team.

 It isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and the single greatest factor in success when it comes to teamwork is the ability to communicate in a timely and accurate manner. Groups with a lower skill set than other groups that have synergy and communication will beat the “smarter” group every time.

Part of growing up is learning and being able to work with people of all cultures, sizes, colors and backgrounds, even if you don’t get along. I assume that’s what professors have in mind when they put us in these projects. You have to make the conscious decision to either set your differences aside and be professional, or you use your energy fighting.

These are all just my thoughts though, and you might have to take them with a grain of salt, because as much as I’ve apologized, I was that fourth group member one time. Strive to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

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