We have all experienced working as a group at one point, either in school, uni or the workplace. Group assignments can be one of the most challenging experiences in your degree, but it can also be the most rewarding. Learning to work effectively with others is a valuable skill that will help you throughout your degree and into your professional life.
Here are some handy tips to help make you a great team member and your next group project a success:
Identify your goals
Having a clear objective in mind will help your team work effectively towards the same goal. Try setting out the out the big picture, and then breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved one at a time. It is also important to be aware of everyone’s ambitions and abilities. Be clear about what you want to achieve, but also be mindful of everyone’s ability and commitment.
Know your team
Everyone is different. Here, your diversity is your greatest ally. The skills one person lacks may be balanced by the abilities of someone else, and a difficult task for one person may be easy for another. Play to your strengths. We all have our unique working styles, habits and routines, and ways in which we are most effective – don’t expect everyone to work the way you do.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your team members and communicate openly about any difficulties you may be facing. Organise regular catchups to discuss your team’s progress and don’t forget to check-in from time to time. Remember to be polite and clear when you communicate -think about how the other person may interpret it. Having an open, honest, and judgement-free communication channel can help everyone in the team feel more comfortable and share their ideas.
Positive, constructive feedback is so much more effective (and nicer!) than negative feedback. People like to hear when they’ve done something good, so let them know if you appreciate their help or effort. If someone in your group is struggling, it might help to give encouragement and nudge them in the right direction; avoid getting angry or frustrated with them.
Sometimes things go wrong. Don’t be afraid to change direction if something is not working. While it’s important to have a plan, there can be more than one route to your goal. Be prepared for upsets and nothing can throw you off balance.
Group projects are tricky and can be a source of anxiety for many students; however, following these steps will help you become a positive influence within your team and encourage those around you. A successful group project can be one of the best experiences you can have at uni and can leave you with long lasting friends, so don’t forget to enjoy it and have fun!
Written by Alex Drewett
Peer Academic Mentor and Bachelor of Computing (Computer Science) student