In good teams we can produce better results than when we work alone. Teamwork is a reality of the workplace and we use our group assignments at uni to help us build and improve our skills in collaboration and negotiation.
So why is the process so painful sometimes? The most common problems that occur in team assignments include:
- Personality clashes
- One person doing all the work
- Misunderstandings about responsibilities
- A perceived or real lack of commitment in some group members
To give your group the best possible chance at success, try the following process –
- Introduce yourselves – take the time to talk about your skills, assign roles and duties to each group member, and swap contact details.
- Meet ASAP – meet regularly and set an agenda. Record the minutes and actions, and make sure all group members acknowledge and agree to timelines.
- Set ground rules – agree on and set expectations for attendance, confidentiality of group information, consideration of group members, amount of effort to be given to the assignment and timelines for completion.
- Analyse the task – ensure all group members are clear about the assignment task and divide duties according to each group member’s strengths. Set deadlines, and review the group’s progress at each meeting – this helps to avoid last minute panic.
- Assign roles – each team member can take on a variety of functional roles such as – coordinator (keeps track of the project); initiator (suggests new ideas and plans); information seeker (performs research); goal setter (evaluates and set targets for the group); evaluator (critically analyses the assignment); planner (organises schedules); finisher (edits and proofreads).
- Create strategies for dealing with problems – agree on how decisions will be made (e.g. consensus, majority, compromise). Consider the perspectives and personal situations of all team members and record any decisions, actions and incidents in your meeting minutes. Finally, consult with your tutor or lecturer if your group cannot resolve the problem.
Remember that proactive people + planned process = successful team!