Group projects. The two words that strike fear into the hearts of even the most hardy and dedicated students. An essay or a presentation that might have been fairly straightforward on your own suddenly becomes more complicated. But guess what? Your lecturers aren’t doing this for their own amusement. They’re doing it to teach you about teamwork, and there are valuable lessons to learn, so here are some quick steps to help you create a productive group project together:
Set clear tasks for everyone.This isn’t just about choosing who the leader is. Putting someone in charge can be helpful, but don’t let this turn into an episode where one person leads and does most of the work. Set everyone clear roles within the group, according to their strengths. Have a frank conversation about what everyone thinks they can contribute, and then assign tasks so that there isn’t an overlap or any gaps in the workload. One of the worst things that can happen in group projects is when you work for hours on Section 2 of the essay, only to discover that one of your team mates also wrote exactly the same section, and neither of you covered Section 1.
Be democratic if there are disagreements.You’ve been set an open-ended project, and you have to decide the topic amongst yourselves. Whilst you may be passionate about an idea, try not to enforce your preference on everyone else if they’re not keen, and don’t put up with it if someone else does the same thing to you. If there’s a split in the group, do the democratic thing and take a vote on it. Agree beforehand that everyone will accept the group’s final decision, and decide what voting system you’re using, so that whatever the end result is, everyone’s happy to accept it.
Do your work.If you’re set a task within the group, do your best to get it done, and get it done in time. Remember that in a group project, you’re all contributing to each other’s grades, and it’s not just your own mark you’re responsible for. Be considerate, and think about what you’d want from your teammates if the situation were reversed. Having said that, if you just can’t do the work, tell your group as soon as you can. Whether it’s a problem with the question, or a crisis at home, or you’ve come down with the flu, it’s better if you tell your teammates, so they have a chance to help you. Don’t struggle with your work in silence until you finally have to admit at the last minute that you haven’t finished it.
Approach your teammates with any problems.If you think that one of your teammates isn’t pulling their weight within the group, or you think that maybe there’s a communication problem, address it early on, as diplomatically as you can. It might be that there’s an issue you could help with, and even if they’re just avoiding doing the work, at least you’ve made sure they’re aware of the problem, and you’ve given them the opportunity to sort things out.
Approach your course leader, if you have to.If worst comes to worst; if one of your teammates drops off the grid entirely, or refuses to work on the project, then approach your course leader. There are often things they can do to help, whether it’s speaking to your colleague, or taking the problem into account in your final grades. Don’t feel like you have to complete an entire group project on your own: speak to the staff who can help.
At Enterprise, we’re always on the look out for graduates with an instinct for great team-work, so if you come through your group project intact – and we’re sure you will – then have a look at our Graduate Management Trainee programme and internships today.