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We’ve all felt that sinking feeling when the professor announces that the next project relies on group work. It can be challenging to navigate a project with new people, even if they are your friends. Often, there is that element of unpredictability that can be intimidating.
However, group work is inevitable, so take these moments and turn them into valuable lessons. In your future career, you will meet all sorts of new people and collaborate with them. Building up your communication, teamwork and leadership skills are all incredibly valuable in the job market.
You can receive high grades, low stress and essential skills with these best ways to help you handle group work in college.
1. Plan and Prepare Together
As soon as you are assigned as a group, it’s time to meet. If your group scatters at the end of class, it will be that much harder to get the ball rolling. If you can, spend five minutes after class planning your first meetup and sharing contact information.
Your first official planning meeting is imperative. Play a few icebreakers to build comfort and trust between each other. Some colleges are bigger than others, so there is a chance you never saw your team members before!
Next, decide on future schedules, times and places for meetups. Do you need to book a study room? Is there a popular hub off campus to sip on some coffee while you work? Does your project require a computer lab or equipment? Everyone has different classes and obligations, so together you can cement times and deadlines that everyone can meet.
You may also decide how those meetings and check-ins will be run. Is this a quiet time to work together and promote accountability? Is this a brief sprint to share individual progress? Will you all be practicing and presenting to each other? This first meeting ensures that everyone is on the same page.
2. Delegate Roles
One of the best ways to handle group work in college is to delegate roles and responsibilities. An unbalanced allocation of work is one of the biggest complaints for students, but delegation takes the guesswork out of the process.
People can now work on their part individually and then come together to collaborate at team meetings. The deadline for the next meeting is a great motivator.
3. Communicate Clearly and Kindly
When working with people, there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has different learning, communication and time management skills, so keep this in mind. It is always better to encourage and communicate clearly, rather than let small grievances fester. You never know when you might have to work with team members again; let this be a positive experience!
It can also be hard for some people to fully embrace the teamwork experience. However, all types of people can benefit from diverse social settings, types of people and personalities. It’s always great to have experience with both introverted and extroverted people to get a better idea of communication styles.
Ultimately, you want to be and be known as someone who leads by example and builds others up. Practice these tips to take mindful communication with you in every interaction:
- Listen carefully to their words
- Watch body language cues for their emotions
- Re-read your messages to make sure they are sending the correct tone
- Smile and make eye contact
- If you need to address something more serious, meet with someone in person rather than by email or text. Your body language and tone will always portray your truth better than words on a page.
4. Meet Regularly
Even if your project requires a lot of solo work time, regular meetings make sure that every member is accountable and moving forward.
If someone is confused by a detail in the syllabus or deviates from the theme that the rest of the team is forging, you can quickly come back to the same page. This way, no one will be caught by surprise on the due date or presentation day.
Your meetings could also be brief check-ins and emails. Anyway you can continue communicating and staying in the loop is great for group harmony.
5. Speak Up
Speaking up is one of the best ways to handle group work in college because you take a more solid leadership role. When you don’t speak up, your creative ideas may be lost in the fray. If you feel a certain way about a deadline or role delegation, your voice might be the factor that determines the final grade.
Additionally, if you are communicating with remote team members on a video chat, take extra care to build up confidence. It can be intimidating to hop in and unmute, but knowing that your voice is valuable is the first step to maintaining that composure.
Your honesty about your abilities is vital as well. Challenges help us grow, but you must take due dates and current skill levels into account when delegating roles. Every team member should be confident in their ability to complete their portion.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Group work projects are a staple of the education system, but they don’t have to be a hassle. If you take these best ways to help you handle group work in college, you can say goodbye to stress and unbalanced workloads.
Once you’re done, you have some new learnings, better teamwork skills and maybe some new friends who can share in your celebrations!