Working in a team is difficult, no doubt. It takes a lot of patience and understanding to come up with a solid plan that will eventually work for a team if you are doing a project together. But cooperation is very important as a skill and that’s why you might be given group assignments while you are in school or college – they help you get prepared for the future work climate. Here are a few tips that will allow you to manage any team project given to you as an academic assignment.
Define Your Goals
Each team should understand its main goal but each of the members should also understand their personal aims, roles, and contribution. While you might be thinking that finishing your part of an assignment is your personal goal and it ends right there, you might be wrong. As, eventually, not everyone is going to work as tediously, it might happen that others members would be obligated to do organizational work, editing, proofreading, etc. Including you. So, be ready to put more effort into a group project than just finishing your part – the final version always requires some additional work.
As a team, you need to specify what you need to achieve, how to part your task, and how to manage all the difficulties that might happen – what will you do if someone gets sick, how you want to present your results, what else you might need to finish your project, how long will it take. Only by having a plan before anyone starts their work, you can achieve your team results – otherwise, you might happen to present just separate puzzle pieces that will not assemble into a whole final project.
The due date of your projects should be the deadline for everyone to turn in their parts. The deadline for a group should be set a few days before you need to present the final project as it takes time to look through the work, edit, add necessary details, put everything together, proofread, and run through the presentation. Moreover, your group might face the need to redo some parts completely. That’s why you need to set the deadline in advance and inform everyone that they need to finish work by a certain date without any prolongation.
The more time you can spend with all the project pieces finished to polish and edit them, the better the final result will be. Don’t forget that some people don’t really consider deadlines as something that is obligated and a pure must. So, they can break the deadline and if you don’t have any time reserved planned ahead, the whole project might be delayed.
Make Sure Everyone Has a Role
Sometimes, it happens so that you might be there in a group, doing your part of teamwork, but not getting any credit for it because it’s not that obvious. There are so many examples of a situation when a student does the final editing, puts all the work together, and… their work stays unnoticed. It’s crucial to make sure that everyone in a team has their slice of the cake – something that they can present and be responsible for. Every member when asked should have something to say about their contribution to the project and not only some unspecified like “I was helping with the research.” Even if they did a lot that might seem like nothing to be credited for.
Schedule Team Meetings
Team meetings or team calls are crucial to track the progress of the work. You all need to know that everything is going according to your schedule and you will be on time with the final result. If there are any delays or difficulties, you need to make sure that everyone in the group is informed. Brainstorming might help overcome obstacles and come up with great ideas and decisions that someone might be able to think of on their own.
Working as a team means helping each other instead of blaming someone for not doing their part properly. If one of the members needs help, it should be mentioned in a meeting and taken care of. You all are responsible for the final project and it’s not the time to leave others on their own with mistakes or challenges.
Have Someone Be a Negotiator
This might seem silly, but eventually might really benefit your project – have someone from a team be the one talking to professors in case you need some specification, extra time or sources, etc. It must be a collective decision that will boost your image as a team. Usually, there are always students in a group that is better at communicating with professors or writing formal letters. Make sure you use this as your team advantage when you need to. You can also choose a leader for your group – the one who is going to be in charge and will organize the working process in a group. It’s not a necessity but rather a good opportunity to test your leadership skills and it’s great if everyone gets to be a group leader at least once throughout their academic career to know how it feels and how they cope with responsibilities.