As another school year approaches, so do group assignments. Working with your peers can be a tall order, especially when a bunch of diverse (and sometimes conflicting) personalities are randomly selected to work together. That being said, here are five types of people you may encounter when doing a group assignment and how to work with them to create a stellar product.
This individual likes to take charge, lead group meetings, and delegate tasks. They may also ask for contributions by specific deadlines throughout the course of the project so that they can compile everyone’s input into a cohesive format and edit it.
At the same time, a “take charge” attitude can come off as bossy. Make sure to communicate with the facilitator and outline your own expectations for the project so that the final project is a win-win for everyone!
The procrastinator will submit their contribution at midnight on the agreed deadline or possibly even later. They are masters of coming up with excuses and struggle to do the necessary work for the assignment on time.
That being said, the quality of their work might be truly excellent. To keep the procrastinator’s bad habits from affecting the project, set earlier deadlines and check in with them throughout the project. They’ll thank you later.
They’ve already finished the assignment before your first meeting. When other group members are starting their sections, they’ll roll their eyes as if trying to say, “Been there, done that.”
While the know-it-all attitude of the encyclopedia can be downright annoying, don’t shut them out of the group project. They are likely to have spent a lot more time than anyone else and their contributions may be very valuable, bringing the whole collaboration up to a higher level. Offer an open ear and listen to their suggestions for the assignment. Then, give them a portion that you know they will appreciate more than anyone else.
Whether they’re wrapped up in a budding side career or a million extracurricular activities, the copy-and-paster is usually a group member who means well but ends up taking the wrong shortcut (plagiarizing). You can often pick them out as the one student who always falls asleep every class and misses group meetings without notice.
While it can be incredibly tempting to exclude them from the group assignment entirely, doing so is likely to lead to a complaint from your professor and more headaches down the road. So instead of launching the offensive, take the high road. Understand that they’re going to put in the least amount of effort and give them the easiest part of the assignment. If there isn’t an easy part, consider doing a collaborative sit down with them so that one way or another, there will be zero copy-and-pasting in your project.
This is the person whose name you just can’t put a face to. As the deadline approaches, you keep meaning to talk to them in class but they never come. You feel guilty and frustrated to submit the assignment without their work, but hey, what can you do right?
The most important thing to remember about the phantom is that their lack of involvement is not your fault. If you’ve made a serious effort to look for them in class and contact them online (email, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest even!), let them go. It might be helpful to write an email to your professor explaining how you’ve tried to include their work but didn’t hear back from them. Ultimately, this is an issue that the phantom has to solve — not you!
Your Final, All-Round Trick: Communication
The key to working with any of the aforementioned personality types is (drumroll, please!) communication! No matter what kind of group member you’re dealing with, everyone benefits from clear communication. When the whole team is on the same page about how the assignment should be done, what the deadlines are and how to submit everything to the professor, things come together much more smoothly.
While group assignments can be pretty daunting, they’re actually great opportunities to build your soft skills. Now that you’re well aware of five personalities you may encounter, use the knowledge to your advantage. See the clash of conflicting personalities as an exercise in people management and hone your communication skills by leading group meetings and delegating tasks like a pro. They’re invaluable abilities that will help you get through sticky situations in the workplace and stay a step above your competition.