Group_Projects_-_ConcertAnyone out there a fan of “Derek and the Dominoes”? How about “The Traveling Wilburys”? Maybe even “Temple of the Dog”? These musical “supergroups” might have released some quality music (and made a ton of money in the process); however, their success as a group was short-lived. But why is that? There was no shortage of musical talent. And each of these bands contained no less than two of what many people would consider “rock ‘n roll geniuses.” So, why aren’t they still packing out arenas and selling albums by the truckload? Because working together as a group is an art in-and-of itself. A group can be bursting with raw talent, groundbreaking new ideas, and fame and fortune; but if some basic, foundational guidelines for group work are not followed, it’s going to be hard to successfully sustain any sort of momentum. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips for successful group projects in the workplace.

Whether we’re talking about a group of musicians or business executives, the constituents of every group must always work together for a common goal. Group work requires everyone to subordinate their own personal agendas to accomplish the task at hand, which is much easier said than done, particularly when you’re dealing with people who are accustomed to being in charge. Let’s refer back to the the musical “supergroup” example. It’s not hard to visualize the major clash of egos and personalities that you might encounter in the recording studio or on stage when you assemble a group of five mega-stars to play music: arguments over band names, length of solos, song titles; hogging the spotlight; backstage demands for crystalline bowls filled with only green M&Ms; etc. etc. In other words, an out-of-sync group of highly skilled individuals who are far-less concerned with the greater good than stroking their own egos. In order for a group to function smoothly in the workplace, everyone must stay focused on the task at hand.

Take a solo
Just because you’re working in a group doesn’t give you an excuse to coast along and piggyback on everyone else’s hard work. Chances are good that you’ve been selected as a member of the group because you bring a valuable set of skills to the table, so offer them up! As the group is dividing up tasks and responsibilities, think about ways that they can harness your talents and skill sets and offer to take on roles accordingly. Also, many times group projects will present unique opportunities to learn and practice new skills, so consider branching out and trying something different … if it helps the project at large! The bottom line: do your part.

Stay on beat
One of the many challenges faced by group work is meeting project deadlines. In group projects, you’re not only responsible for managing your own time, but also for coordinating your schedule with other people’s schedules as well. This, along with a number of other variables, such as balancing your regular work load with the group work, can increase the likelihood of missed deadlines. To help mitigate these risks as much as possible, tight project management skills are essential throughout the group project. While there’s only so much you can do to ensure other members of the group meet their deadlines, you can do your part to help avoid a scheduling collapse by keeping track of your own assignments and risks communicating your progress with the group.

Dive bar or arena?
It might seem like a trivial detail, but the environment in which your group works can significantly impact its effectiveness. For instance, the arrangement of the desks and chairs should encourage collaboration and allow plenty of space for spreading out. Additionally, the room would ideally be located in a low-traffic area with minimal distractions. If possible, consider booking a room outside of your everyday office location as a means of avoiding some of those distractions and giving the group a new, fresh environment in which to work.

When they’re assembled and executed correctly, the benefits of group projects are numerous—shared ideas and perspectives, efficient problem solving, strengthened teams and a sense of camaraderie, just to name a few. As this article has explored, there are some basic strategies and guidelines that, when followed, will help to ensure that your group runs smoothly and sees the project through to its completion … and perhaps reconvenes again and again for encore performances!

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