How to Actually Like Group Projects

Over the course of my college career I have loved working in groups. Crazy right? Almost all of my peers I have asked about working in groups they exclaim their hatred for group projects, mainly because they feel like they get stuck with most of the work. Whether you feel like you are doing most of the work, none of the work, or you just hate working in groups altogether read my advice below for managing and enjoying being a part of a group. I find that collaboration is a great way to do really well on a project. Maybe by the end of this you will agree.

  • Avoid Biases

It can be easy to make snap judgments on how other students will perform. But you would be surprised with the right direction and encouragement even the most unlikely student could perform well in a group.

  • Delegate tasks effectively

Find out what each member may be good at. Ask them about their interests. If given a task they are uninterested in or one they may not be good at you may find yourself having to go back a redo it.

  • Watch for nonverbals

Ninety percent of all communication is nonverbal. If someone says, “yes that is fine”, yet they roll their eyes in the process they are probably not fine with it at all. Be on the look out for nonverbal communication cues. They are the best way to understand how a group member may be feeling. It is also important that you be as honest as possible and hope that the others will do the same.

  • Keep the environment positive

Positivity breeds positivity. In small groups it is very common that if one person is exceptionally positive the whole group will feel the dynamic.

  • Encourage round table discussion

As much as it can seem time consuming for everyone to expression their opinion it is essential to ensure that everyone feels heard and significant to the group.

  • Help reduce the “hecklers” or “bad apples”

On the other hand groups with a extremely negative attitudes can make a large impact on a groups success. If someone is being extremely disruptive it can have a cancerous effect on the effectiveness and cohesiveness of the group. 

  • Embrace diversity

Surprisingly groups with the greatest diversity actually perform better. It is called the 20% rule. When groups have 20% or more of the group be diverse there is more likely to have different opinions, backgrounds, and frame of references. This allows for more ideas.

  • Navigate distractions

It can be so easy to get off task especially when you really enjoy your group members. Try to pay attention to when your group is getting off task and bring them back in. Even a “hey lets finish this conversation after this meeting”, usually does the trick.

  • Develop shared goals

When groups find common ground with either a tangible or abstract goal it can reduce tension and motivate group members to put in the work.

  • Don’t stress over conflict

Conflict is normal in groups. In fact, conflict can be a good thing. It can mean that groups are really working towards really great ideas.

  • Handle social loafers diligently

There are a number of reasons why social loafers emerge from groups. Instead of getting angry at group members who are lacking try to encourage the by giving them meaningful tasks and holding them accountable for them.

  • Have an understanding for the other members

Odds are the other people in your group were not ecstatic about the project either. Having an understanding that everyone else probably feels the way you do and a responsibility to work towards cohesiveness will help your group become successful.

Best of luck in your group projects this semester.