The term “group assignment” often has many students cringing. Managing diverse personalities, and idiosyncrasies, different work ethics and study styles can all help or hinder the success of your group and can even have an impact on your overall marks for your group assignment. But as well as being a core part of many university subjects, learning to work well in a group will stand you in good stead in your professional life too. Today we’re going to discuss how you can get the most out of your group with the least amount of hassle using the 5 Cs of effective group management
Once you receive your assignment, the first meeting is critical in encouraging the group to get to know each other, understanding the core assignment takes and developing a plan for completing your group assignment equitable and on time. You should discuss when, where and how you will communicate. If regular progress meetings are required to keep the group on track you should establish a preliminary schedule for this at this meeting. You should also establish everyone’s role in contributing to and completing the assignment.
One of the Achilles’ heels of successful group management is inequitable contributions to the group effort by individual members. This can create conflict and stress for other group members who may feel they need to “pick up the slack” . As a group member it is important to contribute to the group effort. More than just doing your allocated task, this requires participatory communication and contributing to other group members effort where it is required. It can also mean offering assistance if another group member asks for it, even if you feel it is not specifically “ your job” . It can make things run more smoothly, although do be wary if other group members are asking for tooo much assistance.
Communications are a vital to maintaining positive group dynamics, and ensure your assignment task stays on track. Hopefully if your first group meeting went well, you’ve worked out the what/when/how of communication that works best for your group, and lines of communication are flowing smoothly and freely. But good communication is also vital to the day to day functioning of your group. This means contributing to discussions without dominating, listening to the ideas of others even if you don’t agree with them, and building on ideas collaboratively with the group. This will all help communication to flow organically.
Conflict is virtually inevitable in a group setting, and if worked through properly can actually serve to make your group more cohesive. It is when it becomes personal or aggressive that it becomes harmful. It’s important when dealing with group conflict, to stay as objective as possible, focus on the issue, not the personal qualities of the group or its members.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your lecturer if you can’t resolve group issues within your group. At the end of the day, they are there to help and can help you overcome any group issues so it has minimal impacts on your final marks.