5tips for dealing with lazy group project members
I’ve definitely had to deal with this problem before, and I’m sure you have as well. So, to help you avoid a situation where your project is due at midnight and you’re still waiting at 11:56 pm for the last piece to be emailed to you, here are five tips for dealing with an uncooperative group member.
Ensure your group is communicating well. It’s not always one member’s fault; perhaps your group isn’t sharing information and setting deadlines well. When you start the group project, don’t ask people to take on work – assign it. Make sure each member verbally affirms what they’re responsible for. Also, make sure each member has the contact information of the others.
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Use a project management tool. Managing group projects through email is only a little better than shoving papers into those clear plastic bank tubes and shooting them to each other with potato guns. Instead, try using a tool that’s built from the ground up for managing group projects. I use Asana for all the team projects here at CIG, and I love it. It’s free for groups of up to 15 people as well.
Build mini-deadlines into your project. Instead of assigning each person their role and expecting all the work to be done by the project’s final deadline, set up mini-deadlines (milestones) along the way so the work isn’t be procrastinated on. Also, assign one group member as the project manager, and make sure everyone else gets their pieces of the project to that manager at least one day before the deadline. This gives the manager time to put everything together and turn it in on time.
Talk to your professor if needed. If you’re going to do this, realize that your professor knows that some students won’t pull their weight and that they’re likely expecting you to treat this project as preparation for real-world projects. This means that you need to approach them in the correct way (just like you do with homework problems); don’t do it before trying to solve the problem yourself, and make sure you bring documentation of all the attempts you’ve made. Once you’ve tried solving the problem internally and failed, make sure you talk to your professor ASAP – don’t delay until near the end of the project.
If nothing else works, just suck it up. It’s awful, but there are going to be times when you simply need to suck it up and do the work that your lazy group member isn’t doing. It’s totally unfair… but it’s excellent preparation for the real world. While people generally do become more responsible and mature when they enter the working world, there will always be certain people who don’t. You’ll most likely have to deal with a few of them in any job you take.
Hopefully, these tips will help you the next time you’re dealing with a lazy group member. Even if you end up having to do their work for them, don’t worry too much about it – you’ve got the work ethic, which means you’re going further than they ever will (especially if you’re using these tips for getting the jobs you want).