This week I have been working with my group to submit our final paper to the professor. It was a pretty dry paper. All about how multi-server environments will help reduce the risks of Denial of Service attacks. Fun! Therefore, I’ve been thinking a lot about working in groups.
Working on a school group project is a bit different than working in teams at work. I am not sure the difference, but there is. One of the reasons teachers and professors do this is so that you can get ready to work with others in a professional environment. My friend in our MBA cohort and I think it doesn’t make sense for us because many of us are professionals who have been working for over five to ten years. We get where the professors are coming from, but it makes more sense for high school or undergraduate students.
I’m ready for school to be over with because I hate having to deal with groups. I think the reason is that I am already exhausted by the end of the day because I have been working with my teams, collaborating with them, and just talking. For an introvert, this is draining. When you are in a group, you have to meet and talk even more. I prefer the solo assignments. However, group projects are here, so there is nothing to do but get over myself and do my best.
I wanted to share with you what I learned working in various group projects especially that we are mainly working remotely. Please sign up for the newsletter to keep up-to-date with the blog as well!
Work with People You Work Well With
If there are people who you have worked with on other projects, and you work well with them, then they should be the first ones you pick for any future group projects. Only two professors preselected our groups, and one of them was the first where none of us knew each other. But the majority of the time the professors are like just go ahead and pick your group. There are two women in my cohort that we work amazing together. Therefore, we always work together when we can. Other people in my cohort also have selected their groups. If you can do that, it just makes it much easier. We have our full-time jobs and full-time lives. You don’t want to add additional stress trying to work in a group with people that are stressing you out or frustrating you in some type of way.
Create a Text Group Chat
The first step that we usually take when we are staring a group project is for everyone to share their emails and phone numbers. My school doesn’t make student’s emails and phone numbers available. Is that a change? I feel like when I was an undergrad, you were able to get everyone’s email. Also, my kids’ schools have the school directory. Due to that, my cohort and I started a Group.me so we can all chat with one another. This made it easy to grab everyone’s numbers to create a text group chat.
It’s helpful to coordinate schedules, ask questions, and provide information to one another. We even text if we are having technical difficulties. Text group chats are helpful to keep up-to-date on the project.
Schedule an Initial Meeting
Try to schedule that initial meeting where you guys can go over the assignment and any questions that the group might have. This is also the time to discuss the deadlines, such as first draft, final draft, peer review, etc. You can all set expectations to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.
Create a Meeting Cadence
We usually discuss this in the initial meeting on when we will meet. One of us will then go ahead and create the calendar invites. It’s good to do because when you have been at work all day, the last thing you want to get is a message asking if you can meet later on that evening. If you already know it’s coming, you are mentally prepared to get through the meeting.
Use a Collaboration Tool
You want to have a collaboration tool for documents, spreadsheets, notes, etc. There is Microsoft 365, Google Suite, and there are probably more. We use Microsoft Teams to have everything in one place even our calendar invites. The worst is searching through emails trying to find this or that document. Or each of you having a different version of the same document. It is nightmare trying to merge the changes later on. Before Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online, I had to do that as a Technical Writer, and it was a nightmare. Right now, we are all working on a final paper and then later on a presentation to submit this Saturday. All of us are in the document working on it without worrying that we are working over one another.
Have a Meeting Tool
When you are meeting, you want to make sure that you are using a meeting tool that has the ability to share your screen. It’s so much easier for all of you to be looking at the same document that someone is sharing, then being on the phone and all of you have the same document open. It will be a lot of questions on what page you all are looking at, etc. Therefore, find a meeting tool that makes sense for you. We use Microsoft Teams, but there is Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, Join.me, etc.
You want to review each other’s work. It’s easier if you’re doing a simulation because one change affects the entire simulation. With papers or presentations, do not get so close to your work that you are offended when one of your group members makes edits. It’s always easier to have more than one person edit a document, then just you. You know what you wrote, so you will tend to gloss over it. Therefore, make sure to set your ego to the side and peer review.
You also want to make sure that you speak up. There are some people who are introverted. I’m introverted. That’s why I think these groups are so stressful for me because I’ve already talked to death at work, and I’m already so mentally drained from talking to so many people and then to get into a group and have to talk and talk and talk even more. Even if you’re introverted and a quiet person try to speak up, especially if you don’t agree with something. You might have a great idea that might make sure that you guys get a great grade.
Support One Another
Being supportive to one another is important. If you are all being cut throat then that’s going to be reflected in your grade. Make sure that you work together.
Please let me know in the comments how school group projects have gone for you. I would love to hear from you.