5 Tips for Dealing with Lazy Group Members

 

I think that it is safe to say that many people will agree with me when I say group work can be both a blessing and a curse. 

You can sometimes get stuck with the best group where everybody pulls their weight and the project gets turned in on time. It is a dream come true. Most of the time though, group projects are not as fun-- and they usually end up being harder to finish than a solo assignment where you can just sit down and crank it out in a day or two.

The problem with group work can become even worse when you get that one groupmate that refuses to pull any of their weight and is just along for the ride.

I have had to deal with this several times in my college career, and I am sure that you have too. So, to help you avoid a situation where your project is due at midnight and you are still waiting at 11:56pm for the last piece to be emailed to you, here are some of my tips for dealing with an uncooperative group member.

  1. 1. Ensure that your group is communicating well:

    It is not always one group member’s fault; it could be that your group is not sharing the information well with each other. When you first start your group project, do not ask people to take on work. Assign it. Make sure that each group member verbally says that they are responsible for their portion and that they understand what their portion is. Also, make sure that each group member has the contact information of the others

  2. 2. Use a project management tool: 

    Managing group projects through email is only a little better than shoving papers into your backpack and hoping you can pull out the right assignment when asked for it. Instead, try using a tool that is built from the ground up for managing group projects. You can use GroupMe as a great communication tool, or even meet over Zoom so that you can actually see what everyone is doing and then have them show you their work. This also provides a great opportunity if members of the group get stuck on a portion and need a little help.

  3. 3. Build mini-deadlines into your project:

    nstead of assigning mini portions of the project and expecting your group members to get their portion turned in by the project's deadline, set up mini-deadlines (milestones) along the way so that the work is not being procrastinated on. Also, it will be helpful to assign one group member as being the project manager. That way we have some sort of accountability system and there is someone who is making sure that group members are getting their portions completed in a timely manner. 

  4. 4. Talk to your professor if needed:

    Just know that when professors do assign group work, they are already aware that there are going to be some students that are not going to be pulling their weight for this assignment. Most professors do this because they want you to experience what real world groups projects look like because, yes, there are still people in the real world who act like this. This means that if you are going to approach your professor, you need to approach them the correct way. Approach it the same way that you would a homework assignment you are struggling on: try and solve the problem yourself, and always be sure to bring documentation of all the attempts that you have tried or anything that may add to why your group member is bringing the entire group down. Once you have tried to solve the problem internally and failed, be sure to bring this to the attention of your professor ASAP- do not wait until it is near the end of the project.

  5. 5. If nothing else works, just suck it up:

    It’s awful but sometimes you just have to suck it up and do the work that your lazy group member is unwilling to do. It is totally unfair… but it is great preparation for the real world. While we do see a vast majority of people grow and mature as they enter into the real world, there are always going to be some that just seem to be stuck in their lazy ways and refuse to change. You will most definitely have to deal with a few of these when you enter into the real world. 

Hopefully these tips will help guide you through the next time that you draw the short end of the stick and get stuck in a group that has that lazy group member and you're stuck with their work. Don’t worry too much about it though- you have work ethic, which means that you will go further than they ever will in life.