Top Ten Tips: Group Work
By Alex from the Student Team
During your time at university, more certainly than not, you will have to deliver assignments, projects or presentations as part of a group. While it might seem like a daunting task, working as part of a team at university will boost your employability while also giving you the chance to meet new people and get to know your fellows better. To help you with managing situations when you are working as part of a group, the Student Team have some useful tips!
This blog post follows the content of our Top Ten Tips: Group Work Podcast closely. If you prefer to the audio version, you can listen to it here:
Top Tip 1
Make sure to keep up a positive attitude! Maintaining an optimistic frame of mind will help you all approach the task with a team mentality eradicating any conflict.
When working in a team, you will learn that people have different work styles and different ways of communicating. You will also encounter situations when things don’t work exactly according to plan. Keeping an optimistic and positive frame of mind can help you better manage these situations by enabling you to see not only the shortcomings of your group but also what works well!
Top Tip 2
Everyone brings different skills to a group project — remember this and make sure that every member know they have something unique to contribute.
When working on a group project, it is easy to get demotivated and frustrated when your work and contribution is not recognised. To keep your group motivated toward your final goal, always acknowledge that each member of your team is valuable and they are bringing unique perspectives on the work you are doing. Next time you are working on a group project, thank you team mates for their contribution and tell them how valuable their unique skills and contribution are to your project!
Top Tip 3
Assign roles! If everyone has something important to do you’ll all feel needed and collaboration will be far easier.
From the onset of the project, try to make it clear who does what. Deciding on the role each of the team members have can give more clarity and perspective to the work you doing and can help to keep everyone motivated!
Top Tip 4
Set internal deadlines for yourselves so that you’re not all rushing to compile your work the night before the project is due.
Planning is very important to ensure that you will deliver the best possible group project! Together with you team members, create a project timeline and set deadlines for the different stages of your project. There are plenty of group project management software that can help you with this. Here are just a few of them: Asana, Trello, Freedcamp.
Top Tip 5
Beware of free riding! If you expect to get by without contributing anything, you run the risk of alienating yourself from your team members and you won’t gain much from the project!
A group project is not only an assessment method used by your lecturer. It is also a valuable opportunity for YOU to develop skills such as communication, planning and team-work that can make you more employable. Free riding might sound appealing, but by doing this you are denying yourself the chance to get some nice experience you can talk about in your next job interview!
Top Tip 6
Don’t forget to discuss your ideas! A group has a lot more potential to impress and academic by working together to come up with exciting solutions to the problems posed.
There’s no such thing as a silly idea! The most exciting thing about working on a group project is the access it gives you to the unique ideas and insights of your fellows. Thus, do your best to encourage your team to share and discuss ideas. Who knows, maybe you’ll find innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing issues.
Top Tip 7
Create a plan before you begin! Not only will this ensure that everyone knows what they need to be doing and when, it will help you all to hone your time management skills.
Need some examples on when you applied you time management skills to achieve a goal for your CV? Working on a group project is one of the best such examples. Making a plan before you start working on your project can give you and your team mates a perfect opportunity to improve your time management skills. Not only that, but it will be far easier for everyone to navigate through the project from start to finish.
Top Tip 8
Don’t forget to factor in coordination costs — you’ll need to spend time in meetings distributing tasks or collating ideas. Schedule time for this and don’t let it get you down!
Agreeing on a role for each of the team members is only a fraction of the works that needs to be done for your project. Everyone’s individual work needs to be collated and given a clear flow. Make sure to set aside some time for this and arrange group meetings where you will discuss your progress and coordinate your work with your team members.
Top Tip 9
Don’t ignore individual brainstorming! You’ll contribute better to the group of you come prepared and bring new ideas.
Always remember to spend some time working on your group project task individually. It is important for the success of your team that you do your best to understand your task and what is expected of you. Write down all the ideas that you get when doing individual preparation and present them back to your group. The better you prepare for each of your group meetings, the richer your discussion will be and the more efficiently your team will work!
Top Tip 10
Remember that the main benefit of working in a group is the opportunity to collaborate with new people so keep an open mind and prepare to learn from your peers.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy your group project! Keep on open mind and take this opportunity to learn from your peers. Don’t only focus on the grade, try to use the group project as a means of developing yourself both on a personal and academic level, and take the chance to know your fellows better.