The group project is a professor favorite for teaching students that sometimes, you’re going to have to work with people who you butt heads with. Group dynamics change based on the nature of the project, as well as from the personalities of the group members, but by learning how to effectively manage the work and people, you’ll be on your way to a good grade and maybe some friendships.
Create roles within the group. Honestly, do this immediately since it will allow people to know their responsibilities and be productive sooner rather than later. Creating group roles makes it so there isn’t any confusion on who needs to do what. When volunteering for roles, don’t be afraid to take the lead! If you truly believe that you can do the job of team leader well, then step up!
Communicate efficiently and effectively. A very popular way to communicate with group members is by group chat. Only use the group chat for things related to your project, not irrelevant questions like where to go out this weekend. While using an electronic device seems like a quick and easy way to communicate, it can sometimes create problems. Sometimes, there’s nothing as effective as the good old fashioned face to face meeting. Meeting face to face allows you to ask and answer questions quickly, brainstorm with others, and an overall valuable and productive interaction. While it’s not always necessary to meet in person, it still offers a way to have quality conversation where meaning isn’t lost in a text message.
Stay calm and positive. Group work can be frustrating sometimes, but it really is a simulation for how life will be outside the classroom. If it’s getting too heated with the group, take a moment to step away and collect yourself. Arguing or saying something hurtful when you’re upset won’t solve any problems, in fact, it’ll make them worse. Also, group projects aren’t forever. You’ll soon be free of the group members you don’t like after your work is done.
Approach unproductive members. Within the group, there is always at least one “social loafer“.
The social loafer is someone who exerts less effort to achieve a goal when working in a group. These teammates can tank a project, because they’ll either not do their work and it’ll cause a penalty or you or someone else will end up doing the work for them, which just enables them to continue their poor behavior and stresses everyone else out.
If you and your teammates believe you have a social loafer, you can fire them from your group. The first step is of course talking to the loafing teammate about their effort and behavior. After that chat, if the loafer still isn’t trying, have a chat with the professor. Then, if the entire group decides that this person still isn’t putting forth as much effort and the professor knows about the situation, fire the member, which basically means not putting their name on the project.
Also published on Medium.