Team Work in College: How to Make Group Projects Work

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Group Projects- a term that was added to my “Things to dread for life” list back in high school and my 1st semester in college did nothing but reaffirm why had I put it on that list in the first place.

I’m going to be very honest with you, I’m a little bit of a perfectionist. From writing my articles to finalizing an outfit for my day, I do things until I feel that “Too perfect for words!”  Elle Woods expression within me. Hence, it is predictable how when I’m put in a group with people who would clearly choose anything over working make it harder for me to keep my cool.

Over the past 2 years of my “oh so wonderful” college life, despite my complete lack of love for group projects, most of my professors have subjected me through this experience multiple times and BOY! Have I learned from them. So I write today to help you and enlighten you with the lessons I learned hoping they will help you cause GIRL! Group projects- No matter how much we dislike them, They’re not going anywhere. So here we go:-

NUMERO UNO: Hold frequent group meetings

I have come to really appreciate the power of weekly group meetings. They’re really not joking when they say “out of sight, out of mind”. Greater the number of times you discuss and work on your ideas, the more the project is going to be on everybody’s mind. Repetition breeds learning and it really works. It also clears up those tiny doubts we all have when we’re working alone. But more than that, this activity builds the team vibe and brings harmony among the group mates.

NUMERO DOS: Understand what motivates your group

Now let’s say you have teammates who don’t like to show up to group meetings, what do you do then?

Here’s what I learned for working with people like that. They’re most likely not motivated. Try to find what motivates different people in your group. The better you know them as a person, the easier it is going to be for you to understand their working style. I think this is the reason why educators love to give group projects. These projects help you see things from different perspectives and helps you learn how to accept them.

NUMERO TRES: Don’t leave ANYTHING for last minute

I’m a person who always leaves things for the last minute but the thing is I always complete it before the deadline. It could be a minute before the deadline but none the less, it is complete.

But what I learned from group projects is that this practice just not work in this setting. The reason behind is simply because most people can’t do this. The anxiety that comes with the nearing deadline is not a motivator for most of the masses. On the contrary, it is scary for people. Thus, majority of them tend to blank out in moments like this.

So the key is to PRE-PLAN, PRE-PLAN and PRE-PLAN in group projects. Allot tasks at least a week before the task needs to be completed. If not a week, then at least give people 2 days to complete it.

(PRO TIP: Friendly reminders are great if your teammate is the forgetting / procrastinator kind but mind you, don’t nag or else they’ll start ignoring you and that is not going to get the work done. So be patient and send FRIENDLY reminders. )

NUMBER FOUR*: your teammates are NOT YOU

*Shifting back to English cause this is the extent of my Spanish knowledge :D*

One of the greatest mistakes I made in high school was that I expected my group members to readily be willing to work no matter what but that resulted in nothing but disappointment.

The thing is your teammates are NOT YOU so don’t hold the same expectations from them as you hold from yourself. It is a huge mistake. This is something people who can see people’s potential really struggle with.

“But Dhriti. I know They can do much better, if they only try to!!”

I know girl! But it is their job to work on that. You cannot hold expectations from people based on their potential future selves. You expect from people based on who they are right now because, no matter what movies teach us, people in real life will only work based on their current state. So don’t expect based on what you cannot you.

LASTLY

NUMBER FIVE: You are not perfect and IT’S OK

I know it’s really hard working with a group but that’s what the whole experience is about. Learning and growing. Anyone can hold consensus with just their own opinions but understanding and accepting other people’s opinions, their ideas, now that’s a challenge.

Through this task, you’re getting this beautiful opportunity to really become better as a member of this bigger group called Society. So it’s okay if you mess up a few times but never stop yourself from learning this beautiful lesson. It will help you learn more about yourself and I promise you, you will be better off after it.

I really hope you try these tips out and do tell us about your experience down in the comments.

Loads of love and Support (* And If you’re feeling discouraged right now! Don’t worry. YOU GOT THIS :D*)