You may have thought that working in a group would become a thing of the past once finishing high school or college. However, while many jobs are autonomous aspects, group work is something that will follow you into your professional life and career. Working in a group has many benefits including collaboration, teamwork, division of labor, and a sense of community. Yet, group work can definitely present problems in the workplace. Sometimes differing views, work ethics, and priorities turn group work from a harmonious collaboration to a resentful distraction. Follow OFFSITE’s tips for working in a group to reap the benefits of group work without the headache.
The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” was created around the idea of working in a group. When working on a project with multiple people, it is important to establish each person’s role in the group. For example, if two people want to take the lead on a project, it is likely they will butt heads and get in the way of the group’s progress as a whole by trying to follow their own agendas. Similarly, if more than one person tries to be the delegator, there will me mixed and confusing messages that will interfere with the group’s productivity. To avoid such conflict, assign roles to each group member in the very beginning of the project. Such roles could include the leader, the time keeper, the budgeter, the creator, and more. If more than one person wants a certain role, be sure to have each candidate explain to the group why they feel they would succeed at said role and have the rest of the group vote on the correct candidate for the job.
When you are working by yourself, you always know what you are thinking, what your plan is, and how you are going to get the job at hand done. However, when working in a group, you can never know exactly what the other group members are thinking in terms of the project and its progress. In order to avoid guessing games and passive aggressive comments and actions, heavily emphasize communication from the very beginning. Make sure each person has a direct line of communication to every member of the group, to eliminate the need for a middleman. In addition, establish regular group meetings. These could be every week, biweekly, or even daily depending on your group’s needs and the nature of the project. Use these meetings to go over the details of what each group member is doing and to bring up any questions or concerns. Openly communicating with your peers will help avoid pent up frustration with other team members and will help you address any problems before they exacerbate.
Look at the Big Picture
Because everyone has their own way of doing things, group work can be extremely frustrating. However if you take a step back to look at the bigger picture, it can really help put everything in perspective. The truth is, regardless of varying opinions or work methods, you are your team are all working towards the same goal; to make your project a success. No one in the group wants this project to fail. When the project succeeds, you all succeed. Once you realize that your group wins together and loses together, it will be easier to confront and smooth over any problems or brush off things that may not be your exact preference.
Looking for a cool, unique space for group projects? Check out OFFSITE’s various meeting spaces!