How to make group work less of a pain than it already is

 

“Group projects are my favorite!”- said no one, ever.

Group projects, especially those that result in one singular group mark, are typically a pain in the behind. It does not matter how social you are, working in a group is different than just hanging out with your friends a couple of times while trying to get some work done. Different energies, schedules and goals promise the creation of an interesting dynamic.

Yet, as dreadful as they are, they are also inevitable. Here are three tips that I consider to be the Holy Grail to what you need to know to survive group projects.

 

  1. If you can choose your partner(s), choose wisely.

Rarely in university will you be granted the opportunity to work with whomever you wish. You might be tempted to run to your favorite classmate and team up, but hold that thought. What I found out is that partnering with someone for a team project just because you appreciate them is not the best way to go. It might even work to your disadvantage.

Your friendly classmate might take their workload for granted. I have been in many situations where I found myself having to do most of the work because my friendly partner always threw excuses at me that they expected me to understand such as: “You know I have started this job, right? Alexa wants me to do a double-shift. Do you mind starting and I will finish it up later? Thanks girl!” The work excuses snowball and other excuses come up, like having a date with their partners, and in the end, you wind up stuck doing most of the work. The worst part of this arrangement is that you might even be afraid to speak up if they become problematic.

Having a friendship at stake makes arguments more stressful. I am not saying to partner up with a total stranger only because they seem to take school seriously.  Instead, if you can mix business with pleasure you have your perfect match! I found myself working better with people I got along with, but that also had a good sense of work ethic.

  1. Make sure your schedules are discussed beforehand.

In university especially, everyone has different, busy schedules and occupations. Some students work twenty-hours a week - others work more or do not work at all! Some students live a few minutes from campus and other have to prepare two hours of transportation to get anywhere. You have to take everyone’s schedule in consideration and find an efficient way to make things work and that means sometimes, allowing someone to work from home or breaking down the work in a way that helps everyone do their fair share while respecting their timely and spatial boundaries. Accommodation is important!

  1. Communication is always key.

Coming from a student who suffers from major trust issues, I am always tempted to work on the project alone. Although I want to better the project, I always keep in mind that since we are getting a group grade, the whole group should have a say on what the final project will be. Always make sure to communicate with your group if you have legitimate concerns about the project. Guarantee that if something goes wrong, you have proof that you tried to better the situation. Before you run to your teacher or involve other classmates in your group problems, talk to your teammates first. Always give them the opportunity to make things right! It will lessen the drama and better the experience altogether.