Collaboration isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a skill employers are increasingly demanding, and nowhere is it more important than when working on group projects. Even so, anyone who has worked on a group project, from elementary school to the workplace, will know that getting a smooth-running team together isn’t the easiest.
1. Define your goals together
First and foremost, when working on group projects, you have to know what you want to achieve. Let’s say you’re launching a marketing campaign — what are your metrics for success? Do you want to expand your customer database, strike up conversation with dormant leads, or go viral and get your name out there? If you're working with Kanban boards, create a card with your targets on it which can guide you as you create tasks. This gives everybody a clear idea of how their roles contribute, which is a great motivator that inspires teamwork.
Whenever you come across conflict, you can refer back to your goals as a group and choose the path that is most likely to lead to you achieving your goals.
2. Assign clear roles for every participant
The best groups are made up of diverse minds that can all contribute something different. When working on group projects, treat every team member as an individual, and you’ll be able to capitalize on divergent perspectives to move forward. That said, people become experts in their areas for a reason.
So, while there is no harm in getting your finance officer’s opinion on your advertising art, they shouldn’t have the responsibility of redesigning it. Identify each worker’s strengths and assign roles to each respectively.This gives each of your team members a clear idea about their role, and avoids potential conflict if someone feels their toes are being stepped on, or if they’re being overworked.
3. Set the ground rules of how you’re going to collaborate
Now everyone has their role and an idea of what they’ll be doing, it’s now time to look into how they’ll be doing it. The ground rules could be as basic as how many hours of the day each team member can commit to, or more detailed, such as the style and amount of contribution you expect from each member in meetings. One often overlooked factor when working on group projects is who gets the final say.
Will you appoint a team leader, or put it to a majority vote? Set standards for how to respond to suggestions. You might want to play it simple, but if you’re looking for new solutions, make sure everybody feels comfortable pitching in ideas from left field. As part of your first meeting, go through your collaboration strategy and gauge the temperature of the room. If anyone has any issues with the working style, it’s best to get grievances out in the open well before you start your project, rather than letting bitterness grow over time.
4. Cut out toxic behavior
One of the most daunting aspects of working on group projects is throwing a bunch of antagonistic personalities together in a room and having to spend your time peacekeeping rather than getting on with your project. As part of your level-setting, before you start working in groups, you should come to an agreement on behavior that is unacceptable — especially if you’re working in a high-pressure environment. This has the double advantage of being able to hold toxic workers to account, as well as reassuring all members of your group that they will be respected, listened to, and valued.
Set out a strategy for identifying, reporting, and resolving conflicts in the workplace and turn to it whenever you need to intervene.
5. Organize your project on the right software
Forget individual note taking — instead, get everything on a cloud-based project management tool and work as a group the smart way. Project management tools allow you to lay out all your group's tasks where you can visualize your entire project, or dive into a specific task. Tag the relevant people to each task, and keep all task-based communication within each card, with everybody receiving a notification with every update.
Gantt charts are one of the best tools out there for project planning and monitoring. You can see your full timeline at a glance and identify empty spaces to be used to catch up if you fall behind. With one central location for all your tasks, project notes, and interactions, you not only have a streamlined system for your day-to-day, but you'll get a reliable record of everything done. This means you all have accountability, and with the best software, you can pull out detailed analytical reports to look back at your progress.
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6. Stick to your deadlines
Laying out your timeline in a project management tool is great for identifying your deadlines, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean your workgroup will stick to them. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but there are strategies and tools that can help you become a good time manager.
For example, if you are presenting at 12:00 on Friday, the time for your presentation to be ready is certainly not 11:59. Try setting your deadlines at least a few hours, but preferably a few days in advance. This way, your team is more inspired to act in the first place, but you also have a comfortable amount of leeway if someone is off sick or has taken the wrong approach. Now your team probably isn’t stupid, and will be aware that their deadlines are set early, so be sure to discuss why early targets are so useful and you’re more likely to get buy-in from your team. Treating your colleagues like adults and being transparent in this way is a sure-fire strategy for improving team dynamics.
7. Be honest and transparent throughout
As we’ve just hinted at, honesty and transparency are two key contributors to teamwork that you should always aim for, especially when working on group projects. By agreeing to treat each other with respect and dignity, you can solve any issues with group dynamics in the workplace before they get out of hand.
One of the biggest drawbacks of a lack of transparency is the snowball effect that can happen to tasks. If a member of the team doesn’t feel confident to say they are stuck on one of their tasks, they will anxiously kick the can down the road and you’ll find you’re missing key information as your final deadline approaches. To tackle this, create a culture that is understanding of difficulties and that works together to solve issues. Try using Kanban boards so everybody can see everybody else’s work. Quickly go through each card in your stand-up meetings and give people the chance to speak up if they are having issues.
8. Take advantage of smart communication tools
With so many great communication tools out there, you can cut out all kinds of errors by setting up best practices. As mentioned before, task-specific updates should be exclusive to your project management software so you have one go-to place for everything you need. However, you'll have to set up meetings too. For remote teams, schedule video calls to discuss issues or share announcements, and assign a note-taker to create a document that you can save in the meetings section of your Kanban board.
Working on group projects almost always calls for close collaboration, and instant messaging is a fantastic way of pinging ideas back and forth. However, be careful not to rely on it too much — you can quickly lose track if your group shares every thought via instant messenger.
9. Have regular check-ins with your group
It’s no use setting the groundwork if you’re just going to disappear off into your respective silos and never communicate until the end of your project. Regular updates are crucial for both the practical side and for morale, and there are a few methods for doing it. Daily stand-up meetings are a dynamic way to start the day and they’re becoming more and more common in teams from all industries.
In no more than five to ten minutes, each team member takes it in turn to voice what they’ve achieved in the past day, highlight sticking points, and offer any extra information that could be valuable. By checking in on a daily basis, you’ll often find your group will resolve issues quickly and efficiently, whereas in teams with less communication, the same issue might snowball out of control.
10. Use shared documents on the cloud
If you're not using shared documents by now, it's high time to make the switch. Working on group projects is still much easier when you can save one document instead of clogging up your folders with endless versions of the same document. Instead, collaborative documents save a history of every version, which you can jump back to at the click of a button. It helps to consolidate your communication too.
Rather than creating enormous email chains with suggestions scattered around, you can keep everything within the same place. But shared documents really come into their own for working on the same file simultaneously. It is a much faster way of working in groups, and is perfect for reviewing documents quickly. Once your document is ready, you can lock access to stop any unwanted changes creeping in at the last minute.
11. Use automations as an extra team player
The rise of automations at work has helped teams cut down on time while making sure nothing falls through the cracks. As part of your project management software, you can set alerts to ping when a task is reaching a deadline or when changes have been made. Similarly, you can create dependencies that trigger when one task has ended, automatically signing a subsequent job. Automations are also useful when setting recurring events, such as stand-up meetings or weekly reviews.
Instead of setting up the same event over and over, you can do one quick job that will serve you for the entirety of your project. By being smart with your automations, you and your group can focus more on your actual jobs, rather than spending time on small, repetitive administrative tasks.
12. Let your hair down at the end
That’s it, you’re done! Put aside all this talk of productivity and efficiency, you’re not robots after all. It’s time for a nice human reward at the end of your group project. As a final task, your team can agree on a restaurant for dinner, an after-work activity, or if you’re very lucky, a destination for a weekend away. Use this time to reflect on your project in a social setting. It’s not a performance appraisal, but appreciating your colleagues’ effort or looking back at tough moments with relief can help to gel your team together.
Next time you find yourself working with the same people, you’ve already got a good working relationship to build your project from. Backed with the knowledge of our 12 powerful tips for working on group projects, we're sure you'll look at future jobs without the fear of fighting an uphill battle. Why not share this article with your teams and see what they think? You’ll probably have noticed that a lot of our tips are based on the right kind of software, but it can get expensive signing up for your communication tools, project management software, and time trackers.
However, you can sign up for Bitrix24 for free and get all of your tools on one powerful platform. It comes with all the automations you need for a successful project, and the apps for Android and iOS mean you can work, organize, and meet on the go. Over 10,000,000 teams are already using Bitrix24 to streamline their projects, so get started today!
How do you work effectively in a group?
To work effectively as a group, you need to set up efficient working practices, use the right technology, and create a good working environment among your team members. To achieve this, explore project management software, and set work-related and behavioral expectations before launching your project.
How to resolve conflict in a group project?
Conflict is detrimental to the success of a group project, so it’s important to have a strategy to maintain good group dynamics in the workplace. Set behavioral standards at the outset Be clear about roles and responsibilities Recognize the conflict itself Create a fair disciplinary process Speak to both parties separately and together