Teamwork… the dream work?

group of college students working as a team on a group project

Have you heard this before? The teacher announces there will be a group project and it will be a significant part of your final grade. Yes, I’ve been there, but what happens when things don’t go the way you expected? It all depends on what you bring to the group dynamic. Wil you be a positive influence or a negative one?

We all need to learn not only how to work in groups, but how to collaborate with a variety of personalities as well. Diversity is one big characteristic in the business world, whether you find diversity within the company you’ll work for or your clients. You have to learn to work with different types of people in order to succeed and become a better leader and team player.

I wish that every time I had a group project assignment, people could have little bubbles over their heads with a label that tells me what type of group member they are. No matter who they are and how helpful they are to the group, at some point we have to deal with them, at least once, so we should be prepared. Additionally, after graduation, right when you get that new job, you’ll have to deal with an ocean of diversity. No matter what industry you end up working in, trust me, you’ll have to deal with both helpful and encouraging co-workers, as well as those looking to do whatever they can to get ahead.

How to survive this? I have a few tips:

  1. Talk to your professor via e-mail or during office hours if you are concerned about a group member who is not contributing or working, as they should.
  2. Make sure that the project is graded individually, and if it isn’t, most teachers are willing to consider this option if more than one student in the group shows concern about their grade because of one weak link.
  3. Assign jobs! If you want to avoid checking on everyone’s progress simply assign specific jobs. If you set the right tone from the beginning and make the project a collaborative effort, it helps get everyone to participate (most of the time.)
  4. Be patient, breathe, and try your best to learn and accommodate for each situation, because the faster you come to terms with the fact that we all have personalities, the faster you move on and develop personal ways to work around it.

We all have different methods of dealing with the variety of personalities in any group situation, and the trick is to avoid getting frustrated. Embrace your leadership nature (if you’ve got it) and survive college and those stressful group projects!

Lia Machado 300x300Lia currently attends Georgia State University where her major is marketing. She is president and PR of the Phi Theta Kappa chapter (Alpha Zeta Mu) at the Dunwoody Campus. She is also PR of the SPACE club at her school which is a science and engineering club and although is not really related to her major, as demonstrated by my astronomy teacher, science is awesome! She recently changed majors from Fine Arts to Marketing and even though she doesn’t take any art classes anymore she loves art, it is her passion, and she does art when not at school or work. Lia was born in Colombia and moved to the U.S. 10 years ago.