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EP 36: 5 Strategies to Help You Manage Group Work

Have you ever had challenging experiences with group work? Does the thought of group work frustrate you? This week on Episode 36 we discuss Tuckman’s 5 Stages of Group work along with 4 other strategies to help you navigate the challenges of group work. Join the conversation!

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Cath Anne: [00:00:00] Hi guys and welcome back to our channel. My name is Cath Anne and this is the Homework Help Show, hosted by Homework Help Global.

[00:00:15] This week on episode 36 we are talking about group work. Dun dun dun.

[00:00:23] Group projects seem to be a necessary component of any university or college degree. Group projects are probably also one of the most dreaded things that happen in undergraduate or in college. That’s because it can be really difficult to work with people. I think everyone has probably had a negative experience with group work. There are many scenarios where group projects can turn out poorly and maybe you’ve had the same experience. However this week we wanted to discuss phases of group formation so that you can have a better sense of how to navigate challenges as they arise in a group setting, and we also wanted to give you five strategies that you can use to navigate challenges in group situations.

[00:01:11] It is really important to learn how to collaborate and work with people. It is really a skill that you can use in your work life and bring with you when you. Move into your career. It’s not something specific to university or college. Usually in group projects professors are looking for how well you can work with your team as opposed to what grade you can get. Although it might seem super frustrating at the time and annoying group projects can allow us to develop these skills and to take them with us long after our university degree. Another benefit of group work is that you get to work with different people you get to know different peoples perspectives. You get to take on the perspective of another person that may have a different culture or worldview than you do especially in bigger cities like Toronto or the US. I really believe that working in a group can allow you to navigate those differences and try to understand where people are coming from. It gives you an opportunity to explore different cultures and different ways of seeing things and really that’s the reality we live in now especially if you live in Canada or even in the US, we’re becoming an increasingly diverse community and it’s important to learn to work with a variety of different people. If you’re looking for more information and a deep dive into group work check out Episode 7, we go a little bit more in-depth into some of the scenarios you might encounter working in a group today. I hope to provide you with five strategies that can help you to manage your work.

[00:02:55] The first strategy is be familiar with Tuckman’s Five Stages of Development. Bruce Tuckman developed the five stages of development as a way to understand the different patterns that he was seeing in group work. It’s helpful to know and to understand this model so you can work in groups more effectively. Let’s talk about the five steps or the five stages in group formation. First we have forming. The forming stage happens when the group first meets each other are introduced to each other they share information about their backgrounds and their experiences their interests they learn about the project and they start to gain an understanding of where they will fit within the group and what role they will take on as the group begins to work together they move into what is called the storming stage. Unfortunately this state is unavoidable. Every group, most especially a new group that has never worked together before, will certainly encounter a storming stage. In this stage group members compete with each other for status and they look for acceptance from the others in the group. They have different opinions on what should be done and how it should be done. And these all present challenges in group formation. This stage will come to a closure when the group becomes more accepting of each other and learns how to work together towards a common goal. Third we have the norming stage when the team moves into the norming stage they are beginning to look beyond their individual goals and towards the bigger picture and the larger project. They’re no longer focused on individual tasks but rather they’re focused on working together. They’ve developed processes and procedures that will help them to work towards larger goal. They respect each other’s opinions and they value each other’s differences. Fourth we have the performing stage. In the performing stage groups are highly effective. They focus on reaching the goal as a group. The team members have gotten to know each other. They work really cohesively. They trust and they rely on each other. Now I should mention that not every group is going to make it to the performing age they may just rest in the norming stage. And this is completely fine particularly in cases where you are working with people that are in your class and it is just a small group project. Finally we have the adjourning stage. In the adjourning stages the project has been completed and team members are looking to go their separate ways. This stage takes on a new perspective and looks at the team well-being rather than the individual project itself. At this stage you will have completed your project and you may want an opportunity to celebrate what you’ve done together. It’s always important to remember that every team, every group regardless of what you’re working on will follow these stages of development. Knowing the stages and understanding them will help you to navigate the different challenges you encounter. It’ll help you to understand where you are in the group process and why some behaviors might be coming out. It will also help you to understand your own role within the group and the different processes that your group members are participating in.

[00:06:24] Let’s move on to tip number 2: designate a leader, productive workers and an editor. In every group you will want to have a leader. You’ll want to have someone who can designate tasks and assign different roles. Second you’ll want people who can take on some of the work. Identify several people who are known to produce strong work and that don’t mind that they’re not in charge. Finally identify someone who is good at proofreading and editing and tying things together. The main point here is to make sure that every member of the group has a role. Filling each one of these roles will help to streamline your project and make it much more effective.

[00:07:11] Tip number 3: set clear deadlines as a group. This does not only mean the deadline that you’re working towards for the end of your project. This also means setting many deadlines. Your group members may have schedule conflicts so setting these deadlines hold everyone accountable. Keep your group accountable to these goals and if you do you will be a lot more successful in mitigating last minute stress.

[00:07:38] Tip number: 4 recognize when to meet and when to work individually. Because it is a group project you may think that you have to work together all the time. However this isn’t true especially since we now have communication tools like Facebook and Skype and Facetime. We can communicate with each other all the time so we have a question we can shoot someone email or a message on Facebook. When you’re working individually. Use the time to complete your individual tasks and once you’ve finished those individual tasks then come back together as a group. This is also true when you are meeting for a group project and the group meeting is just not going well and it’s not being productive anymore. If you’re not finishing your tasks as a group when you’re working together take a break and work on your individual goals and then come back together when all the work has been completed.

[00:08:36] Finally, be honest. If you do not have your part done or if you didn’t have time to complete your section before the deadline. Be honest with your group about it. This does not mean that you have failed to contribute. It means that you are being considerate of your group members time if you are causing distractions or falling behind. Admit it and address it to the group that also goes for. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re feeling that. You’ve taken on the brunt of the work. Make sure you talk to your group members about it. If you encounter these challenges and they’re are not received well by your group members you might also seek out the opportunity to speak to a facilitator like your professor to help you navigate these challenges.

[00:09:24] Okay guys, that is it for me for this week. I hope that was of benefit. I hope these tips help you to navigate the challenges of working in a group. If you liked this video and found it helpful, make sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel. If you’re interested in seeing more of our content. All of our social media platforms are linked in the description box below and as always if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.