Are you in the middle of a group work assignment at the moment? Is it going well? Has someone taken leadership? Is the group sharing and working collaboratively? Are jobs being divided equally and everyone completing the tasks in the specified time frame? If this is the case then congratulations, you’re not only experiencing the benefits of a shared workload and accessing multiple points of view, you are also learning valuable rules that you can implement in the future when the next group doesn’t get off to such a great start.
If you’re not so lucky to you might be struggling with the group you are working within. Maybe you are experiencing some of the following:
- A lack of leadership so one member is dominating the group resulting in infighting and a lack of direction
- The focus is on the wrong areas, for example picking a slide template to present on rather than the content of the slides.
- Instead of challenging and sharing different viewpoints people are agreeing with poor decisions to avoid confrontation
- Someone in the group is blocking every idea
- Someone is getting a free ride and not pulling their weight
- You’re holding back and keeping quiet to avoid a negative judgement and evaluation by a team member
Often these dynamics and situations might need more than a few tips to resolve but these tips may help ease the tension a little or get off to a better start next time:
- Set an agenda for each meeting
- Someone should take notes
- Assign tasks and set deadlines
- Make suggestions and offer your opinions. Don’t just say I disagree and not offer an alternative.
- Deal with the problems as they arise don’t let them slip by and bring them up later or not mention them at all.
- Swap your contact details
- Use multiple communication methods and keep everyone up to date with progress
- Don’t dominate the conversations or talk over people
Like I said these are not the only answers but they can get you started. I could have kept writing for pages and there are whole books devoted to this topic. If you want some more information you can check out communicating in a group environment and Getting Your Group off to a Good Start from the University of Queensland or our tipsheet on being assertive.