Turning Group Work into a Success

Some love it, many hate it:  good old group work, either in form of a written or oral assignment or – worst case! – as a semester project. Nowadays, there is no way around working in groups with your fellow students. And, to be honest, that’s exactly how it should be! Once you have started your professional career, being a good team player is more of an asset than having an outstanding GPA. Following our tips, even the most introvert lonesome ranger will become a happy pack member.

Rules of Play for Successful Group Works

Phase 1: First Sniff

Sometimes lecturers are very fond of mixing existing groups. No discussion helps to avoid the unpleasantness of temporarily losing your trusted fellow students. One way or another, you will have to handle working with (at first) unfamiliar people as soon as you have plunged into working life. Trust me, you will make it without your best buddy!

When carefully sniffing each other out, there are some things to pay attention to: Be kind! Open-mindedness is, of course something positive. However, avoid overwhelming your new pack. Especially during the first working session, everyone should be able to speak up. In case you notice someone being shier than the others are, just get him/her back into the game by asking a simple question. You yourself are the group’s chatterbox? Well, keep in mind that you, besides your extraversion, should hold your breath too from time to time. Otherwise, no one else can contribute to your project.

Like it or not, each group has sort of a hierarchy – even though we are all friends here, aren’t we? Sometimes it feels like the pyramid is built during the first meeting but beware! The hierarchy is very likely to be restructured during phase 2, team building.

people starting group work

Phase 2: Team Building

How much time you (want to) spend on team building, of course, depends on the project’s scope. Many companies prefer to have workshops and outdoor trainings to strengthen the team spirit. However, it is different with a group of students.

For you, we recommend an especially comfy way of team building: Grab a beer together! No, the evening should not turn into an excessive party night. Best case, you will talk about your project a bit. You might ask yourself why now. Think of a lecture room’s atmosphere – not very pleasant. The advantage of being a student definitely is that you can decide where to work. So, why not make it a little more pleasant?

team members talking, coworkers talking

Phase 3:  Who is who? – Role Allocation

After phase 1 and 2 everybody got used to each other at least a bit. You have learned which person has which strengths and preferences. Still, before you really get down to work, you should allocate the roles within your team. It is better to talk about it than accidentally offending someone. Choosing a team leader and other functions is always of good use. In case someone is unhappy with the allocated roles, the person can always address this problem. Afterwards, the road should be clear for a successful group work! Check out The Nine Belbin Team Roles to master phase 3. https://www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/

team members/co workers discussing

Dos And Don’ts Within Group Works

As in all areas of life, there are some rules of play that you should follow during teamwork. Most of them are obvious and familiar to you, we just want to remind you of them.

How Team Members Will Love You:

  • Listen carefully and let others finish their sentence.
  • Support the idea of others and ask when something is unclear.
  • If you like an idea, say it straight. Insecure team members often need clear feedback
  • Be open for criticism. Nobody’s perfect!
  • Use failure and mistakes to learn from them!

What You Definitely Won’t Do During Group Work:

  • Being easily offended.
  • Being disrespectful.
  • Laughing at your Team members.
  • Putting yourself in the spotlight – no matter what.
  • Staying out of everything – lazy bone!

dos and don't within group works

It may sound a bit animal but, indeed, the animal kingdom’s rules also apply to teamwork. Each member is different – everyone has strengths and weaknesses. The goal of working in groups is that everyone can use his/her skills in the best way possible in order to achieve success together. For long meetings, iamstudent recommends their energy boosters https://www.iamstudent.at/blog/vom-einzelgaenger-zum-teamplayer/ (only available in German).

We hope we could help you to have a peaceful and fun time with your team. It is not without reason that people say. Together we are strong! With these wise words we send you out into the world of teamwork!

Shoutout to iamstudent!

The original (German) article was published by iamstudent. We have translated and adapted it slightly for THE MAGAZZINE. Make sure to check out other articles from iamstudent.

All images via iamstudent.at.