Group Projects: How To Build A Successful Group

Last quarter while I was reading my textbook for an organizational communication class, I stumbled across something I actually found interesting and helpful. It had to do with group work and how to efficiently build a successful group.

If anyone needs a little organization in their life I highly recommend the third revised edition of “Organizational Communication” by Virginia Hamilton.

By the time you get you college you have already had your fair share of group projects. You know that there is usually at least one person in your assigned group that refuses to do their portion of the work but still is rewarded with the same grade the group received. In college you will be able to form your own groups when working on a group assignment; it’s easier when forming a group to take it one step at a time.

Step 1: Forming

Forming, seems easy enough right? But this is where everything gets all mixed up. The first mistake people make when forming their groups is just filling it with their friends. What you need to do is look for complimentary skills and set a common goal. There is another saying from the textbook that tells us to “purge the social loafers” This sounds funny but it’s crucial!

You have to figure out who the slackers are early on and get them out of your group while you can! The best way to do this is to set a deadline for a small assignment, if someone doesn’t complete it or comes up with a lousy excuse, give them the boot. More often than not if you go to your professor and let them know that someone in your group is not pulling their weight, a switch can be made. That’s why it’s important to do this early. Don’t rush this step though; forming your group efficiently is essential.

There is a difference between building a team and building a group. A team is built more long term, team members can be on the team for a while then replaced later on. Groups are specifically formed in order to complete a certain goal. Groups are what you will be encountering in your classes. I’d like to use the analogy of building a sports team, but since groups are what we are specifically dealing with let’s pretend that we’re building an intramural team, just temporary. So when it comes to forming an intramural team, you have to make sure that every potential member is actual competent enough to play the game, you don’t want someone on your team who is just going to be warming the bench.

Step 2: Storming

This is an important step as well, storming involves making sure that everyone in your group has a specific job to do. It’s just like in any sport; you have to make sure your group members know what they are supposed to be doing or else there will be chaos and confusion. Disagreement is normal but the differences need to be ironed out before you start your project.

If your intramural team doesn’t ever get together to practice, then when everyone takes the field there may be confusion over what position everyone is going to take up, plays wouldn’t have been practiced or memorized and pandemonium is inevitable. It is essential that you make sure that everyone in your group is aware of their responsibilities.

Step 3: Performing

Now you’re ready for your group to actually complete your project, if you’ve followed the first two steps then this should be a breeze. Everyone should easily be able to do their part because it’s already been decided that they are competent enough to do their job and are clear with what their job is.

Your Intramural team has practiced enough, knows all the plays and what their job is then your goal is more easily attainable. Most things will go smoothly and your group will be or should be prepared for the worst.

Step 4: Adjourning

This is pretty self-explanatory, once your goal has been reached, your group can happily adjourn. This is the time to reflect on your group process and analyze each step. If your group was efficient and the goal was easily achieved, this can be a great go-to group or easy study group for the duration of the semester/quarter.

After your intramural team has won the championships you can know easily adjourn, if everyone worked well, you can all get together next year! Just like in class, if your group was successful then when another group project comes along you will easily be able to get together with a group of people you know works well with each other.

It is always difficult to rely on other people for your grade, that’s why forming the right group is essential; by following these very simple yet critical steps you can ensure that you will get a good grade that you and all the members of your group deserve.

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Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty

Bryanna Maty is a Senior at the University of California, Davis. After graduating in June she hopes to find or invent a career that will utilize her love for writing, spending money and making people laugh. In her spare time you can find her crafting things off of Pinterest, swimming, line-dancing or watching re-runs of “Friends.”