-Have you ever worked on a group project? Was it easy peasy, or was it an unforgettable nightmare? Working together is hard, it’s no wonder group projects have such a bad reputation. Everyone will have to work on a group project at some point in their lives with a little whether it be school, business, an organization or even an event. Often when working in groups, members communicate poorly or sometimes not at all. In some cases people may even stab each other in the back.
There are many difficult situations that may arise when working in groups. Some of the most common are participation, conflict, blame and domination. There will always be some who do not participate as much as others and will take a back seat and ride along the coat tails reaping all the same rewards as others who are working very hard. There may be some conflict because people have different opinions and points of view and may challenge what is being said or done by another member. This is ok, except when comments become personal or directed at specific people. This can often lead to resentment or animosity within the group.
Things may go wrong at some point and it is easy to direct blame at someone and can be very damaging to the person blame is being put upon. Other members may direct anger and frustrations toward that member causing them to with draw from the group. Some people just have stronger personalities, I myself am usually one of the more outspoken members but in this experience I chose to take on a different roll because I do not currently have the time to be in a leadership type role. Often the more dominate people leave others feeling as if they do not have the opportunity to make their point or that their point doesn’t even matter. I personally experienced this when making a suggestion at this group projects meet up.
As when working on anything, there are always going to be advantages and disadvantages. The first and most important advantage is increased productivity. Each individual can use the best skills they possess, and ensure quality to their work. There will be more resources available to you and the skill level will be broader. When a member is not able to complete something for any reason there are others who can be reliable for it. In a group there will be more ideas, different points of views and many suggestions to help make the group better.
The disadvantages are that there is no individual thinking even if you feel strongly about something it must be a group decision in the end. The time an individual puts into a group is unknown and not acknowledged and credit is given as a whole even if you put in majority of the work. The competitive attitudes of people working in groups can also be a problem because some may lose focus as they are worried about who is doing more work rather than who is doing good work.
I have worked in groups a few times and all had very different experiences depending on the project or task assigned. I would have to say that the best group experience for me was when working on a school project. When we first met up as a group, together we assigned who would be doing what. We also set up two deadlines in which we met up and discussed progress, problems and other issues anyone was experiencing. I would have to say that project was successful because we all collaborated decisions and responsibilities. Many people as adults already know what they are knowledgeable in and what they would be most successful in completing, so we first picked and chose then assigned what was left. When you are confident or interested in what you are working on it is much easier to complete.
This group assignment was difficult in my opinion. The type of experience that gives working in groups a bad reputation and I know I am partly at fault for just accepting the situation rather than trying to make it better. First off we did not know each other prior and had no clue what to expect of each other as far as interaction and personalities. The three of us met up once in Panera during the lunch rush and loud crowds, which I found to be quite distracting. When I arrived the other two members were already sitting. It seemed that one of the group members felt she had the most experience and pretty much took over. (I will call her the lead)
She stated that “we can finish this today in like 30-40 minutes” My thought were “WHAT!!” We sat looking up our topic but not seeming to get much done. I suggested that we make an outline what we want covered about our topic and then assign who does what. I received a puzzled look from both and the lead said that due to the topic and type of assignment it just was not possible as it was too broad. The other member appeared to me to be on the quiet side, kind of a go with the flow person. I decided to do the same and stepped back knowing that what I was choosing to do would be unbeneficial to all of us. I felt I would just do what I felt was necessary on my own.
The possibilities of problems can be endless within groups, ranging from general negativity to specific problems such as irregular attendance, unwillingness or inability to meet up as well as aggressive behavior or arguments. But the benefits and experience of working in a group make it worth the while and a lot can be avoided by setting up clear guidelines like rules or norms for the group from the beginning. Giving positive feedback and support from other members. And most importantly when problems do arise deal with them immediately and find a resolution to overcome the difficulties within the group so that it will build trust amongst the group and it can move forward positively.
People forget that when working together it is every ones goal to make decisions to lead the group forward not just an individual.
Groups are made u of individuals with varying personalities, backgrounds and ideas. For a group to work well a bond needs to be developed. Every group needs a leader and each member should feel a sense of belonging, a reason and purpose for their presence in the group. Each and every group experience will have a different lesson that can be learned whether good or bad.
Armbruster, Rachel “Banding together for a cause” Wiley and Sons Inc. 2012
Astin, A. (1993). What Matters in college? Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Web Oct 2014
Hammar Chiriac, Eva, Gareth J. Williams, and Carl Senior. “Group Work As An Incentive For Learning — Students’ Experiences Of Group Work.” _Frontiers In Psychology_ 5.(2014): 1-10. _Academic Search Complete_. Web. Oct 2014
Rafferty, Patricia D. “The Evaluation Of MBA Group Work: A Case Study Of Graduate Student Experiences And Perceptions Of Positive Group Work Outcomes.” _Journal Of Education For Business_ 88.1 (2013): 43-50. _Business Source Complete_. Oct 2014