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March 30th, 2015
Group work is an inevitable part of most university courses and the ability to work well with other people is something all employers care about. While working on a group project can be incredibly rewarding, it can also present real challenges if you don’t go in with the right mindset. Here are a few tips to make group work just a little bit easier!
Be Prepared to Compromise
Something we must learn early in life is that different people have different working styles. While some people like to have an essay planned out and written weeks in advance, others thrive on the pressure of leaving it until the last minute. Be open about how you work from the start – if you talk about the ways in which each person works best right away, you can come up with a compromise that suits everyone.
If everyone compromises a little – for example, by agreeing to pre-planned deadlines – this can help avoid leaving some group members stressed or upset by discovering that their expectations were out of line with the rest of the group.
Maximize Each Member’s Strengths
Do you love public speaking? If so, great – tell your group members that from the start! Break down everything that has to be done, from conducting the research to preparing the slideshow and giving the presentation in front of the class, and assign tasks to each person based on their strengths.
While it can be difficult to please everyone, having an honest discussion about strengths/weaknesses early on and and attempting to give everyone tasks that they’re comfortable with will benefit the entire group in the end.
Stand Up for Yourself and Do the Work
People have different personalities, so if you are naturally shy and are put in a group with someone more confident, it can be tempting to shrink up and not say or do anything, even when you think that the group might be headed in the wrong direction – this is a mistake!
As scary as it is, make sure you stand up for yourself and speak up. This is the only effective antidote to groupthink and conversations where not everyone immediately agrees can be incredibly fruitful.
Of course it goes without saying, always put in the work. Don’t be the person that shows up with the job half done. It is common for group projects to include peer assessments and if you don’t put in the effort, your classmates won’t be shy.
Choose Your Group Wisely
If you are given the opportunity to choose your group members, the temptation is often to work with your friends. Sometimes that is for the best because you know each other well and it can make working on the project more fun and less stressful. However, it can also lead to even more tension, particularly if you aren’t diligent about assigning tasks and preparing some deadlines from the get go.
Someone who you have a lot of fun with on a night out might not make the best partner for a group project. (For one thing, this can make it much easier to get distracted!)
There are also a lot of benefits to working with people you don’t know – it can give your project a wider range of perspectives and help you capitalize on differentiated skills as a group. Moreover, you might even end up making a great new friend.