It may seem as if the tips on this article are somehow trying to convince you that it doesn’t matter if your project fails or that it doesn’t matter if you do poorly, but that is not the case. As you work in the real world, you will understand that there are variables in group projects that you cannot control.
Over time, you learn how to avoid errors, set up backup plans, and drive success, but if you are still in college, then you are unlikely to have the skills needed to succeed 100% of the time. These tips will help you, but remember that when working on a group project you start out losing and stay that way until you get lucky (though you will have to work too).
1 – You don’t have to be right
As a student, your biggest problem is that you think you have a right to be “correct.” You mistakenly believe that what you think is correct and you are currently too arrogant to understand otherwise. You will suffer far less in a group project if you simply accept that sometimes you are not right and that it is time to grow up.
2 – It is okay to fail
If you are working on a group project, there is a good chance you are going to fail. The only hope for you is that the people in your group are committed to their course and their work; otherwise, you have been flung into a group that may or may not have a good reason to succeed. It is possible you are going to fail, and you may need to just accept that fact and try to salvage what you can out of the experience.
3 – Team breakdowns are worse than failure
The team falling out, having big arguments, and fighting over details and refusing to work is far worse than failure. It is up to you to keep the team together and to figure out ways to resolve issues.
4 – Do not allow one person to steamroll over people
There is always one or two people that try to take over and steamroll over the rest. You need to stop this person and put their ego in check. They will fight back and then kick up a fuss, but that is no excuse for you being weak.
5 – Have a set plan for frequent communication
Setting plans is a good idea in general, but you really need to find a way to ensure all parties in the project communicate on a regular basis or your project will quickly fail.
6 – Assign a leader that can control but also take other people’s direction
Again, you do not want somebody that will steamroll over everybody else, but you also do not want a pushover that will not get things done.
7 – Everybody should have a mutual interest in success
If not everybody has a mutual interest in the success of the project, then it is best to keep that/those people out of your team meetings and give them minimal involvement.
8 – Do not allow a small selection to do most of the work
This is probably going to happen anyway, but try to avoid it. The situation tends to lead to resentment and sabotage.
9 – Change things that do not work
Some people mistakenly believe that if they are failing that they are not working hard enough, but usually it is the other way around. If you are working very hard, it means you are getting it wrong–so change things up if it gets too difficult and do not run yourselves into the ground over your project.
10 – Decide on a plan and overarching goal
Your overarching goal is your end-game goal. It is the final piece of your jigsaw. Your plan to get up to your goal should feature lots of small goals, smaller deadlines and smaller plans that mesh together in order to complete your project. The smaller plans will need to be delegated out to ensure the plan moves forward as consistently as possible.