This week, I’m giving tips on group work. Do I hear a collective groan? Group work is hard for college students, especially those at community colleges where the job and family responsibilities of various group members can make scheduling a meeting harder than finding a non-musician in Nashville. But group work is a mainstay of college assignments, and groups are good practice for the workplace. So here are some tips for being a good group member:
- Be flexible when scheduling meetings and, once one is scheduled, show up. That’s just basic good manners, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who miss group meetings and then seem surprised that the rest of the team is annoyed.
- Don’t be a slacker. Do your share of the work. Once again, this seems obvious, but a main reason that people hate group work is that people won’t equally share the load.
- Don’t enable slackers. Hold team members responsible for their share. If it doesn’t happen, schedule a meeting with your professor to see what your options are.
- Be good humored. Sure, it’s not how you wanted to spend your hour between work and your night class, meeting in a group. But then it probably isn’t anyone else’s idea of a party either. Don’t bring everyone down because you’re hungry, tired, or in a bad mood. The work has to get done, but the burden doesn’t seem so heavy when people are nice to each other.
- Don’t be a dictator. Another reason people hate group work is that one person wants to boss everyone around and everything has to be done his/her way. Don’t be that person. Ever.
Being an introvert, I’ll admit that my favorite group activity happened in graduate school when all the other members dropped the course. I didn’t tell the professor and just did all the work myself.
Still, I am a firm believer in group assignments, because, like it or not, most of us have to work with teams in the workplaces. And anything that helps us build teamwork skills is a good thing. And it doesn’t have to be a painful operation. As in most things in life, showing up, being prepared and being considerate will help you succeed.