Working with a team, even if the team doesn’t work College Life

Hello everyone:

Many professors stress group work. Many students groan. Why would they want to work with total strangers and take a chance on their teammates having a negative impact on their own grade?

Well, you probably don’t want to do team work.  Sadly,   you probably don’t have a choice in the matter. Welcome to the real world. When you get out in the world of business, you will find group work everywhere.

Sometimes it is called “team building” or “bonding,” but what it means is putting your own work on the line as you let others have a say in how your project goes.

Let’s grin and bear it and make it work for you. First, find out if you can pick your own teams (you can, in most of my classes). If this is allowed, look for students who you know get high grades and who have a work ethic like your own.

What that means is, if your idea of turning in something “on time” is two days early, do NOT team up with someone who says it’s “on time” if it’s due at 11:59 and you turn it in at 11:58. Team up with that person and you will drive one another nuts.

Next, do you have a schedule for when things have to be done?  Make one up, working backwards to figure out when each step of the project must be complete. Stick to your plan, as much as possible, and build in time to let a project “sit” for a few days before you turn it in.

That way, if you need to make some major overhauls at the end, you will have time to do so.  So-called “all nighters” are not fun and they do not produce the best work, no matter what Last-Minute Lewy says.

Finally, you may have to fire a teammate, if he or she is not producing. This is very hard to do, emotionally, but look at the project like a business. If you don’t show up for work, you get fired. Ask for permission to drop the person from your team, if necessary.

Teamwork can actually be wonderful. I joined a study group team five years ago as we prepared for our Ph.D. qualifying exams. We passed that hurdle and then continued to meet to write our dissertations. We completed those individual tasks while continuing to encourage one another.  We have all now graduated but we continue to meet in order to bounce ideas off one another. It’s an example of a great partnership, which can happen to you, if you pick your team wisely.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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