Working as part of a Group
Tips for both creatives and non-creatives
Over the past few years, I have experienced that sometimes working in a group can be difficult. It can occasionally be challenging to balance personalities and tastes as well as producing work that can make all parties proud. As part of groups, I have learned a few things about working with other people, dealing with situations, and most importantly developing my perspectives and approaches to working as part of a team. There are a few vital aspects of promoting progress and collaboration in a group. I was able to narrow it down to four fundamental points: contribution, communication, dedication, and trust.
“Give proper criticism can dramatically contribute to group work and its dynamic.”
The most apparent aspect of group work is that everyone must contribute equally. At times it may not happen. When beginning a project, it is essential to engage in a stage of idea- generation; it is an accurate indicator of how a group will operate if they can discuss and combine their ideas to create new and exciting projects. It is always vital to encourage people speaking up, especially members of the group who are “happy to do anything.” Sharing ideas is stimulating, and group members should never feel afraid to contribute or to offer criticism with others. By doing so, it avoids situations where a group runs with an idea pitched by a single team member, which may lead to team members feeling like “there is no point contributing” since their opinions will not make a difference.
Often a group appoints a leader to keep everyone on track, which for some groups will work and for some it will not. It is much more constructive to share the responsibility to keep the project moving equally, removing any reliance on just one person on “making the project great.” In fact, when individuals feel ownership equally, they are more likely to feel engaged in group work and gladly share their contributions with assertiveness.
Communication is another prominent and essential aspect of working in a group. It is not merely about talking to one another; it is precisely about working together, voicing opinions, and solving disagreements early on before becoming a sore point. Criticism should be constructive and progressive, less of: “this idea is bad,” and more of: “this idea does not work because of X but what if we improve it using Y?”. This approach is far more positive and will encourage more discussion even among shyer members rather than the other path which shuts the conversation down. When taking criticism, it is necessary to remember not to be precious with ideas and that a critique of your thoughts is not a personal attack on you. Give proper criticism can dramatically contribute to group work and its dynamic.
Excellent communication is also about helping other group members communicate with each other and settling potential disputes. A kind of argument that can occasionally arise is a divergence of visions, leading to a situation where one group member wants to take an ambitious approach, but other members might be unsure of the feasibility of it. In a case such as this, it is essential to help facilitate understanding among group members and to break down complicated ideas so that they can seem achievable. One step at a time and you can accomplish anything you set your group on.
From my perspective, I have always observed that if there is a member of a group who is not as dedicated to the project as the rest of the team it can hold the project back. It is possible to become bitter when someone is not pulling their weight and more often than not it leads to a breakdown of communication within the group due to an imbalance in contribution. It is better and easier to deal with such a team member at the beginning of any endeavor, to discover their reasons for the lack of commitment and try to work around it rather than blindly wait until there is a failure in the project to bring it up. Your attention to others can save the whole thing, and by making others feel involved pays in the long-run.
However, if you find yourself not as engaged in a project and not as dedicated as you could be in the group, the best approach is to communicate with your group and find a way to become more engaged in the project, perhaps by changing roles or your approach to the tasks at hand.
Trust is an essential fiber of group work. The basic definition of group work is that a single person can not do it. It is not uncommon for some people to take on most of the job because they do not trust their group mates to complete the work to their standard or to complete it at all. It is crucial that everyone receives a fair share of the responsibility, to trust everyone to do their work but also to be open and ready to help others and pick up the load should the need arise.
Group work can be incredibly hard, but it can also be hugely gratifying. The input of many voices and ideas can give rise to some of the most significant concepts that may not be possible for a single person. When in a group scenario, it is good to remember to have your opinions but be open to new ideas, never to be afraid to ask questions or ask for help, however, be willing to help constructively and positively. To do your share of the work but also be open to assisting group members who are struggling and finally to trust your group mates and in turn be trusted by them.
After every group project, there is time to reflect on the performance of the group and your contribution to that group. It is imperative to take this time to reflect on the failings and successes as well as your role within them.