Group work is becoming more common in the workplace and in the university setting. You may already be part of several social or extra-curricular related groups, and chances are you'll have a class that requires you to work in a group as part of an assignment. Working in groups can allow you to achieve more complex tasks in less time. Studies have shown that groups can also come up with more creative solutions to problems than an individual might come up with. The trick is to have a group that facilitates good communication.
As your group forms, remember it's natural to have some struggle at the beginning as members try to find their role or roles. One person may take more of a leadership role by setting goals and parsing out work. Another person may take a nurturing role, making sure that each group member is being included. There may also be a group clown, who keeps the energy light and makes people laugh. Another common role is the prodigy; the person who knows a lot about the topic or can work with technology in unique ways. The group member who is usually underappreciated is the devil's advocate - the person who always seems to point out the problems. Ironically, this group member can be an important part in a group's success because he/she forces the group to consider alternatives.
While most group members stay engaged in projects they are invested in, you may find that a group member is not participating in the work and meetings that your group requires. If you see this occurring, you may want to speak with that person individually and try working with that person to find a solution. If your individual meeting is unsuccessful, have the entire group talk with the person. Share your concerns and see if a solution can be found. If the group meeting is unsuccessful, take your concerns to your instructor. While your instructor may share your frustration, it's rare to have an individual removed from a group, so be sure to delegate appropriate work to this person. Be sure that your project will be successful without that person's work--just to be safe. One way to approach this is to have the disengaged person do something that will strengthen an already compelling assignment.
For more background information on developing group dynamics, you might consider browsing the following resources:
- Group Dynamics
- Group Dynamics, Process, and Development
- Revisiting Tuckman’s Model of Group Dynamics
The Noel Studio has spaces perfect for small groups to work. To find out more, please explore our About the Space page.