Working In A Group

In college, you’ll find ways to motivate yourself that you never even knew existed. You will develop confidence in your abilities and you will perform well under pressure. No task will appear daunting to you, because you’re going to develop into a well-oiled machine that devours academic adversity like there’s no tomorrow.

Then, as if a cruel joke was being played on you, you’ll be asked to do the unthinkable—complete an assignment in a group setting.

You’ll ask yourself why, how could this be and for what reason? You’ll remind yourself that this isn’t high school, but it won’t matter. The group project has to be done. There’s no getting around it.

Here are five tips to help you get through working on a group assignment.

1. Try to choose group members that you know and respect.

If you can, choose to work with people who you know can perform. If you haven’t had social contact with anyone in the room before, look for interested people who appear eager and curious. Don’t just sit back and let the groups form without you. Jump into the fray and hop in a group with people who seem like they’re ready to get to work.

2. Delegate responsibilities early

As soon as you get your assignment, start dividing up the responsibilities. Don’t schedule eight group meetings within the next week, let people work at their own pace and according to their own schedules. Just get verbal commitments from your group members, and reconvene when everyone has completed their tasks.

3. Don’t go first

If you have to give a presentation, don’t go first. Buy more time to complete the assignment. Wait and see what other groups do, so that you can differentiate your approach from the norm.

4. Be prepared for drama and try to preempt it

Issues will come up. Someone will go AWOL and be incommunicado. Get phone numbers and email addresses before anything crazy happens. Discover the weak link in the group, and give them the smallest piece of the puzzle to work on. If you have a flake in your group, distribute their workload among the remaining group members before anything crazy happens.

5. If all else fails, do everything yourself.

Some people get bitter when group projects go bad, and the bulk of the work falls on their shoulders. If faced with a worst case scenario (i.e. nobody’s doing a darn thing), embrace the opportunity to take control of the project. If you’re stuck with incompetent group members, why would you want your grade to be a reflection of their efforts. If you do everything yourself, you can control the final outcome. Sure it might stink that no one else is helping, but you need to worry about your own grade. It’s better to do the project all by yourself, and know that it’s excellent. You don’t want to have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. Just take control and make sure you succeed.

Group projects aren’t cool, but they are necessary. Rarely in this world will you ever work in complete solitude. You will need to cooperate with others to achieve your objectives. So embrace the opportunity to delegate. Take a leadership role, work with productive people, and be prepared for uncertainty. If all else fails, do everything yourself so that you know it’s done right.