Group projects are an inescapable part of life – and if you think you’ll never have to face another one again after you’ve finished secondary school, then you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. The dreaded task is likely to follow you into almost any university and job you go into.
You might be someone who enjoys working with other people. Unfortunately, that doesn’t guarantee every group project you do will be a walk in the park. The more people involved in a project, the more factors that are out of your control. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible.
Divide and conquer
One of the first things you need to do with your team is sort out how you’re going to divide the work. Make sure the workload is split as evenly and fairly as possible so that everyone is happy. It’s a good idea, in your first meeting, to find out what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are and assign tasks accordingly.
Set clear deadlines for each of the tasks, and make sure everyone has a good idea of what they are in charge of (a simple checklist on something like Google Docs can help your team keep track of what needs to be done). Once everyone’s on the same page, you can go your separate ways and get working.
Leave margin for error
It’s great to be super organised and have everything planned down to the final second. But remember, files get accidentally deleted, and people can get sick or forget things, so leave a good time cushion in case anything suddenly goes wrong.
Remember to make time to review each other’s work. Ideally, you’d want to do this with all members of your team present and at regular intervals – even if it’s just to touch base on how everything is coming along. People are busy and your schedules might clash, but try to do this at least once before the final deadline, especially if you’ve been working on separate parts of the project.
Look out for parts that might have been repeated or sections that might contradict each other. There’s nothing worse than looking through each other’s work the night before deadline, and finding it doesn’t make sense when put together. This is why it’s important to keep tabs on what everyone is doing.
Talk to each other
Find a communication method that allows you to keep each other updated, but also try to set up face-to-face meetings so you can collaborate side-by-side and give each other feedback.
Now here’s where things can get a little touchy. When it comes to reviewing your team’s work, give constructive criticism. There’s no point in saying something doesn’t work without suggesting a way to fix it. In the same way, you shouldn’t take it personally if someone has something negative to say about your work. It’s all part of the process of working in a group. If you feel strongly about something you said, defend it and explain why you think it is right, or a good idea. At the same time, keep an open mind and listen to what your teammates have to say.
Do your fair share
Yes, we all know there is no “I” in team. But you do play a significant role. So don’t think you can slack off and get away with doing nothing. When working with others, you must remember that what you do (or don’t do) will affect your team members. In the same way that you’d want them to pull their weight, you must also make sure you’re doing your part to the best of your ability.
Help each other out
Lastly, don’t keep your teammates waiting. Really, you don’t want to be that person. Getting your work done on time, or earlier, will ensure a smoother run and save everyone from stressing. And if, for some reason, you are struggling to get your part finished on time, let your teammates know. Struggling in silence won’t do you or your team any good. Talk to your group members and ask them for help if you need it – that’s what they’re there for.