Welcome back avid readers, this week on Eleanor's blog we talk about group work and team members. Now I'm sure many of you are management students or you're friends with a management student, otherwise I'm not quite sure how you ended up on this blog... but welcome anyway, we're happy to have you!
I have been doing this "university thing" for three years, two of these have been in management in a primarily group based setting. In my first year I was in arts and sciences classes and we generally completed course work by taking tests and writing papers, this is all work done by yourself. However, since joining the Faculty of Management I have worked in more groups than I ever thought I would. This semester alone I am working in 6 different groups and this is hard: the combination of different personalities, schedules, commitment, and levels of knowledge all contribute to a unique group dynamic in every single class, and believe me...not all of them are good.
Generally speaking when you hear group work or team work the first thoughts come to mind are a division of duties and responsibilities. However this is not always the case, sometimes we end up in groups where members are willing to ride on the success of others. I've also been assigned projects that are so huge that a professor decides it must be a group project, but they really should be individual projects. Individual projects are something that I personally wish we had more of an opportunity to do, so that more of my grades relied more on me, and less on others.
This semester I struggled A LOT with some of my group members, the lack of timeliness, the lack of commitment, the lack of completed work, the over-the-top opinions and general argumentative nature meant that I struggled to make it through group meetings with my sanity, and it was in great part related to my anxiety and stress levels (see "Take it Easy"). I'm a generally passive person and so I struggled a lot with confronting these issues, to the point where I just bottled it up and struggled on my own with my frustration.
But there is a silver lining, in these groups that I struggled in, there were group members who were supportive and caring, who came on time with their work done, and these group members were my saving grace. Just a quick shout out to these guys: YOU'RE MY ROCKS!
I think a lot of the time we get into our own heads when it comes to group work, we shoulder the burdens of group members that we feel aren't pulling their weight or whose opinions continue to clash with yours. But we can do things: we can talk to our group members and I actually just attended a Professional Development Conference with the IME group that gave us the tools to do so (Shout out to the guys who taught us the B.E.E.F model). We can let our group members know how their actions effect us, we can set requirements, and deadlines and ask for change. Surprisingly enough, our group members are often unaware of the way they are making you feel, of the fact that in your opinion they aren't doing enough work and they want to fix it and help you out.
Once we graduate regardless of our field or what we took in university, our jobs will involve group work in some sort of capacity, it will involve cooperation, it will involve difficult conversations and situations which none of us want to be in. Thankfully, I am an "old pro" at this and I've practiced dealing with these difficult situations, and managing this difficult conversations and it is a skill that I will take with me into my career.
Attitude is a choice: you can choose to be unhappy with the situation or you can take it with a grain of salt and make the best of a bad situation. Apply this to group work.
Till next time,
the super stressed, disorganized, passionate, marketing major