October 1, 2016

Group Projects: How To Deal With Difficult Group Members

Does anyone else cringe a little when your professor mentions any type of group projects? Yeah, same. Some students choose to work alone whenever possible because they just don't want to deal with the stress that comes along with group projects. Even though it's a lot of work for one person, i honestly don't blame them. Group projects can make you pull all your hair out.

Don't get more wrong, group projects can be really fun with the right members, but when you have some members who do nothing but stress you out, you're going to need lots of prayer to get through the project. Feel free to use this guide to make the best out of group projects with not so great members.

Take the lead if necessary
If you realize that there's total chaos in your group, don't be afraid to take the lead and set some order. This certainly does not give you the right to go around and treat everyone like your employees, because everyone will just hate you. You taking the lead means that you will facilitate communication between members, you will send periodic reminders on what needs to be done and you will encourage everyone to do their best. Often times difficult group members just need someone to push them a little before they can get serious. I know it's annoying since you definitely didn't sign up for the class to run after this person. But if you want to get a good grade that's what you have to do.

Assign Tasks
First thing to do is to try to get everyone to pick something they're comfortable working on. If I'm really interested in a topic, doing research on it won't really feel like work. Most members will probably pick something to do but it's the difficult ones you have to worry about. They will try to not do anything and let everyone else do the work, which is exactly why they need to be assigned tasks. One time I made a mistake of not doing this because I thought we were all on the same page and this member ended up telling us that he didn't know he was supposed to do anything, which is crazy because it's a group project and you obviously have to do something. We basically had to scramble at the last minute to complete his part of the project. All that kid had to do was slap his name on the power point slides and call it a day.

Set deadlines and regular check-ins
Now that everyone has an assigned task don't make the mistake of thinking that they'll do it in it timely matter. Most of us are giant procrastinators, so if there is no clear deadline, you best better believe that the work won't be done until the very last minute. It's also important to have regular check-ins with members (especially the difficult members) to check on everyone's progress and make sure everyone is on the same page. You can even use these as evidence to show your professor all your attempts at reaching out to the problematic group member. 

Talk to the difficult member
Sometimes difficult group members aren't slacking because they want to, there might something going on in their lives that keeps them from participating in the project. Try to be sensitive at first. It's very frustrating when everyone else is doing their work and a member seems to be chilling, but you never really know what might be going on in their lives. Be polite, ask this member if there's anything you can do the make the task easier for them or even have them do a different task if it would be of any help.

If that tactic doesn't work, then you can put your serious face on and let this member know that it's not fair to all the other group members who are working their butt off while this member does absolutely nothing. Let them know that you will have no other choice but to go to the professor about the matter if their behavior does not change. Hopefully that scares them into getting their work done.

Have a chat with your professor
You're not paying thousands of dollars just so some kid can screw around with your grade so if you can't get this member to do their part of the project, just give your professor a heads up. Before you do go to your professor, make sure you have proof of multiple attempts at trying to get said group member to help out. It's just so your professor knows that you actually tried to take care of the issue yourself and didn't just run to him/her the first chance you got. Make sure you don't go to your professor the day before the project is due to complain about a classmate because they'll probably think you're just making excuses for your group.

Suck it up
If all attempts at getting this member to contribute to the project fails, then you'll just have to suck it up and take on more work. I know it sucks but if you really care about your grade, this is what you will have to do. Some of my professors could not careless about who helped or didn't help with the project, they just wanted it to be complete by the due date. I don't know about you, but I would rather do most of the work and get a good grade than to only do my part of the project and get lower grade because the project is incomplete. Yeah, it's not fair to everyone else in the group who actually put in work but that's just life my friends.

On the bright side, this will prepare you for the real world. You'll definitely come across these type of individuals in the workforce and you're going to have to deal with them too. What better time to prepare for that than now? Sometimes you won't even have the luxury of complaining to a higher authority so you might as well learn how to work with different types of people now.

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  1. I agree with all of your points and I can relate. I don't think you can go through college without encountering at least one difficult group. But I will say depending on the lecturer you can still bring it to their attention so they are awre.
    I had a similar experience and I had to do the extra work anyway but I told my lecturer and when it was time for final class grades, he told me he generously rounded my grade up because of the group work fiasco.

    Gigi | theislandgurl.com

    1. Totally agree! Some of my professors didn't care what went on in the group while others will actually listened to complaints and took them into consideration when issuing grades.