Working in groups is always challenging. You have to be patient and flexible. You have to learn how to interact with different personalities and work habits. After completing my midterm self-evaluation, I noted some of my own issues with my group dynamic, namely the difficulty I had with overcoming “groupthink,” and contacting and obtaining feedback from my teammates. The in-class activity where we anonymously shared our concerns about group work and discussed potential solutions was really eye opening for me. Although I created a space a couple of weeks back where my group members and I could share our work habits, expectations, and obligations outside of class, I didn’t really actively promote this kind of open discussion. One of the things that I learned from the class activity is the importance of being honest with group members, so I told my teammates my concerns and scheduled a meeting where we could create a list of expectations to improve our group dynamic.
Getting to Know Teammates
One of the first things I brought up was the importance of understanding one another’s work styles and pet peeves, for interpersonal flexibility. I let them know that I prefer to start a task as early as possible and often feel anxious and tempted to micromanage or do another person’s work close to deadlines. I learned how my group members balance their workload and when they work best. We noted our individual strengths and weaknesses, and we shared our personal schedules and activities. After that, we took the opportunity to create a weekly timetable listing general team availability, to help with scheduling meetings or work sessions. Using this information, we decided to start a weekly team check-in, which we now use to discuss individual progress, project management or other concerns.
Setting Communication Standards
I also clarified my own standards for group members, and the emphasis I place on frequent team participation and feedback. I revealed that our general lack of interaction made me feel “out of the loop.” My team acknowledged my concern and promised to more actively engage in communication, such as notifying each other of completed tasks, concerns or holdups. We also discussed the issue of “groupthink,” and agreed to use digital tools to convey constructive criticism more honestly and comfortably.
After the meeting, I instantly noticed improvement in group communication. My teammates started to actively respond to my reminders, questions and messages, and group participation improved as well. I also felt more accepted and respected as an individual, because I took the time to ask for feedback on my own performance as project manager. Although personally difficult, I found the meeting worth the initial tension. It’s common to just brush away any interpersonal issues and just hope for the best, but tackling the obstacles head-on allowed us to get to know one another, and build a stronger team cohesion.