It’s inevitable. Working in groups can and will happen at some point, whether in school or the work place. Projects such as a group paper, presentation or something even more hands-on, such will eventually creep up on you. Before you know it, you are swapping cell numbers and emails in preparation of this communication driven task.
This learn-by-doing philosophy we play out on a daily basis at Cal Poly Pomona requires that we learn how to work with our peers to accomplish a goal. Although it’s common to hear moans and groans about group projects, it’s not as bad as it sounds, especially if you (and your group) follow these tips.
1. Stay on track
Meet with your group on a regular basis before the deadline even comes close. Some group projects have quick turnaround times, while other projects could keep you busy all quarter. Either way, it’s a good idea to touch base with your group members at least once a week to see how everything is going. This will ensure progress is being made and that you can meet your deadlines.
2. Keep open communication
As my high school cross country coach used to say, “Communication is the key to life.” During your first meeting with your group, be sure to get everyone’s names, email addresses and, if necessary, their phone numbers. It helps to assign roles to individuals early on. Do a little research into the topic and you should know where to go from there. Everyone should be aware of what they are doing, that way a key step isn’t overlooked and the work is evenly distributed. That brings us to the next key element when working in groups.
3. Do your part
You don’t want to be that person who does practically nothing and ends up outed by your group members. But you also shouldn’t be that person in a group who hogs all the work. By following tip number two, you should be able to properly divide the work. Let others know if they need to turn items in and let your group know if you’re having any (legitimate) issues keeping up.
4. Have fun
Even though working in groups can be tough, you can still have fun with it. If you’re doing a class presentation, have a pop quiz at the end and give away prizes for correct answers. Or, pick the issue or role that you are most interested in within your main project and offer to work on that.
5. Food for thought
Bring treats to your group meetings. Not only will you be everyone’s favorite group member, but you will gain the attention of your team while everyone is snacking away.
Now that we have provided you with some handy tips, use them! And if all else fails…if someone just doesn’t get it (you know the folks who just want to do bare minimum and ditch doing their part)…then you should share this story! They just might get the hint, buckle down, and understand what it takes to work successfully in a group setting. Good luck and group-on!