I’ve had my fair share of group projects over the years and I can honestly say that I’ve been through some really ugly ones and some really great ones.
Even if you have all the people skills in the world, surviving a group project (at least one that produces a quality end result) requires much more than talking with other individuals.
Whether you’re a college student or working professional, you’re bound to go through some growing pains – There will always be at least one time when a teammate falls through with their part of the project, other times your technology will go awry, and if you haven’t had any of those things happen, then there’s always the off chance that something else goes wrong.
So how do you go about surviving a group project while also getting a stellar end result? Check out my secrets below!
Start with a Productive Brainstorming Session
One of the keys to surviving a group project is allowing everyone to get out their thoughts and speak what is on their mind.
Now, there’s a strong chance that someone in the group is going to be a natural leader and has the desire to take control of the meeting, but that person should still allow the other group members to have their ideas heard and written down before taking complete control of the project.
One of the ways I’ve seen this done is to sit in a circle and either a) provide everyone with a piece of paper or b) have a large sticky note on the wall where everyone’s ideas can be written down.
This brainstorming session shows every group member that their voice matters and that they’re being heard.
Trust me, the last thing you want is for someone to resent the group and not pull their weight because they felt excluded from the initial conversations.
If you feel the need, set a timer for how long each person can speak so that no one gets an unequal amount of the spotlight.
Establish Roles and Write Them Down (Descriptions Included)
Surviving a group project requires establishing roles and making sure everyone’s job description is clear and easy to follow.
By the time you are done getting through everyone’s roles, you should have a concrete idea of what is expected from each team member.
For example, if someone is the note taker, you may write their job description like this:
The note taker is responsible for writing down all important information during the meetings. They will then email that information to all group members within 24 hours of the meeting being over.
It’s helpful to have a spokesperson for the group or someone who takes the leader role. I recommend that this person be organized and good with keeping track of deadlines because they will most likely be the one who checks in with all the other group members to make sure things are getting done on time.
Other roles you may want to consider:
- Designer (i.e. for PowerPoints or other graphic elements)
Create a Regular Meeting Schedule and Establish Deadlines
I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to create a meeting schedule when it comes to surviving a group project.
Anytime you bring multiple people into a meeting, there are bound to be scheduling conflicts and other things you have to work around.
In order to set the expectations from day one, everyone should bring their planners/calendars so that all future meetings can be planned out. Additionally, all deadlines should be established so that each group member is aware of what work needs to be completed and by when.
If Possible, Plan to Complete the Project One Week Before It’s Due
Depending on how much time you have before the due date, you may or may not have the ability to complete all the required work one week prior to the deadline.
If you do have the ability to do this, then I highly recommend you do because this will give you time as a team to go over the final project and evaluate whether any changes need to be made.
I remember being crunched for time once and my group submitted a poster without much time to revise it. Although we had good information, there were a few typos I noticed after we turned it in. I have no doubt that those would have been corrected had we given ourselves enough time for revisions beforehand.
If You Have to Present as a Group, Practice Together First
A lot of group projects require having at least one, if not all, of the members present on the final results.
If you’ve been told that you will all be presenting, then you absolutely need to practice together before you conduct your big presentation.
In my past group work, my teammates and I spent time going through the material to see exactly what we wanted to talk about. After we had all of our main speaking points written down, we each took charge of a handful of those ideas.
From there, we each expanded on those ideas so that it filled a specified amount of time. I would practice my section in front of the mirror or out loud with a timer running so that I knew exactly how much time I was using.
Once all of my teammates had a chance to do this, we came back together and practiced as a group a few times to make sure we hashed out how the transitions would look and who would be in charge of clicking through the slides.
Surviving a Group Project: The Key to Success
I’ve found that the key to surviving a group project successfully is having a plan from day one and sticking with it.
Yes, there are going to be times when you disagree with your group members. That’s normal!
But what shouldn’t be normal is getting so sidetracked by the disagreements that you miss deadlines and fail to meet expectations because your own ego got in the way.
Make it a point to establish open communication from day one and don’t be afraid to implement some sort of process for handling disagreements between group members. It might seem overboard, but the more measures you have in place at the start, the smoother the group project process will be.
Do you have a story you’d like to share or tips about surviving a group project? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Looking for more great tips? Check out these posts: