Monday, November 28, 2005

Group Projects Volume 2

Can I tell you, I hate group projects. I have learned a very valuable lesson about how to handle group projects. I must say I am handling the whole prospect much better and telling people just how I feel about things as they occur, but I just need a moment to vent a little bit.

I have talked to many current and former college students and we all agree, group projects SUCK. The group project embodies many different personalities.

For instance there is the "diligent". The "diligent" is that one person that works her ass off. The "diligent" is a perfectionist. She can't bear the thought of a bad grade, so there may be times that he/she won't let anyone else work on the project or accept feedback because he/she doesn't trust your work.

Then there are the "enhancers". These people who make small but significant contributions. Often times these small significant contributions are the only contributions they make to the entire project. But the "enhancer" is often times a very hard worker. This is your guy that finds that cool evidenced based fact that completes your project.

The "slacker", who can forget them? They are the few people/person who does absolutely nothing, but stand there ready to accept their sparkling A with all the rest of the group. The "slacker" is very sneaky, because often times, you don't realize that they haven't done anything until the project is almost complete.

There's the "complainer", who is the one who hates everything you do, but has no better idea of how you should do it.

Oh and the "know it all", they are the resident expert on anything and everything. Don't bother to have an opinion, because it is wrong. Often times the "complainer" and the "know it all" and the "slacker" are all rolled into one person.

Then there is the "delegator" that tells everyone what to do. This is the person who takes the time to quickly review the entire project and take on the parts that they think are the most interesting or easy to accomplish and then leave all the hard work to the others.

Then there is the "scapegoat" who is the poor sap that gets the whole project dumped on them. And even though they get the whole project dumped on them, if it is horribly bad, it's the scapegoat's fault.

DiVa's Tips For Being a Team Player

1. Communicate.
It only takes a second to sit down, discuss a project and make sure that the work is divided into a fair share. It is also good to be in agreement on what is to be done.

2. Know your strengths and weaknesses.
If you are terrible at writing but an awesome finder of good resources, let a person know. This will ensure that you best attributes are utilized.

3. Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.
Obvious!

4. Set expectations, or clear objectives. And also make a reasonable deadline.
That way there is no confusion about what is to be done. Making a deadline will ensure that the project is completed in ample time so that everyone has an opportunity to agree on what will be turned in for a final grade.

5. Decide on one leader.
There cannot be more than one leader. This person should be a fair and objective person who is capable of being in a leadership role without getting on a power trip. The leader needs to have good organization skills and be able to problem solve. This person should be a delegate without being a dictator. A good leader can motivate the "slacker" and avoid becoming the "scapegoat".

6. Do what you are supposed to do in a timely efficient fashion.
There's nothing that makes a person more angry than a person who is unprepared. Plan your time accordingly so that you stay on schedule. Let someone know in advance if you need more time, that way you can get the help you need without stalling the project out too long. Most times, the "enhancer" can jump in with some really great last minute ideas if you get stuck.

7. Get clarification.
If you aren't sure what you are supposed to do ask. And if you are the leader, make your expectations clear.

8. Attack the problem and not the person.
When addressing a situations, say this to yourself over and over and this will help you to stay focused on the problem and not the fact that Susan is a bitch.

9. If you have a problem, speak to that person directly
Don't tell Kim that you have a problem with Susan. You might as well tell Susan in the first place because it will get back to Susan and big trouble will ensue. If Kim comes and tells you that she hates Susan, don't say anything to Kim about Susan because she is still friends with Susan and she will repeat what you said and not what she said. You know, high school stuff. Nip it in the bud.

10. Remember to have fun!
Despite all of the negative stigma associated with group projects, they can be pretty fun. This could be a wonderful opportunity to meet people and develop great relationships with other in your class. It is also a really great opportunity to develop skills that will help you in the real world.

*Bonus* Check your email and try to respond in a timely fashion.
-Often times it is easier to communicate via email

And that is my public service announcement for the day...

Have a good one,

DiVa

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