We all know group projects are supposed to prepare us for the teamwork required in many careers, but does anyone actually enjoy these ordeals? All too often, group projects lead to frustration and hurt feelings. Thankfully, we’ve got a quick guide to making them as painless as possible.
It’s All About the Planning
Setting expectations and assigning roles is a crucial first step in creating a strong foundation for your group project. First, assign a group leader. This person will collect information, keep up with deadlines and check in with the group about their progress, among other tasks. Then, talk about the task at hand and how you plan to complete it to ensure everyone understands what’s expected of them.
Include a discussion of timelines and everyone’s preferred way of working in this stage. You can then match tasks to each person’s strengths, which can help keep frustrations to a minimum. When all of the tasks have been assigned, be sure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and deadlines. Establish a group chat or email chain to share resources and check in often so you can tackle roadblocks as quickly as possible.
On Setting Expectations
Setting expectations helps everyone start and stay on the same page. Discuss the full scope of the project so everyone has a clear idea of what they need to do for the group to succeed. If your goals aren’t well-defined, all you can expect to gain is stress as your final deadline looms. Spending some time at the beginning of your project to talk about your goals and how you intend to achieve them can make all the difference.
When Things Go Terribly Wrong
When one of your group members refuses to do their part or you realize you’re in over your heads, how do you salvage the project? In the event of a failure to launch, always maintain open communication. A truant group member might not be convinced to contribute, but you might be able to redistribute their work to finish the project — just be sure to talk to your professor about the issue so they understand who actually earned the grade. If you realize your initial plan of attack won’t work because the scope of the project is too large, regroup and prioritize tasks to get the most important things done.
Group projects are almost universally reviled, but with some careful planning and a commitment to talking things out, you and your team can make it through. Instead of worrying about the logistics this time around, you might even enjoy the process.