"Divide into groups."
We've all been there - the dreaded moment an instructor or boss requests for their subordinates to break into groups to tackle a daunting project. Per usual, a few strong leaders pull the heavy weight in the group whilst the rest of the group slacks off, but somehow, the whole gang winds up with an equivalent grade. This scenario is typical in classrooms and sometimes, even professional settings. Perhaps you're the one accomplishing all the heavy lifting your boss has asked you and a number of teammates to accomplish. And it may leave you wondering, why do we have to work in groups? if your groups always tend to be ill-fated.
So, does teamwork really make the dream work?
The short answer is yes, because the benefits earned from working in a healthy team environment are several. In an ideal professional setting, teamwork fosters creativity, encourages group members to build trust, creates a wider set of ownership and responsibility, and a more conglomerative skill set to springboard into healthy risk taking. How many risks would you take on a project if you knew you were the one solely responsible if the outcome went awry?
Teamwork requires communication and cooperation from everyone in order to be successful. So, with that being said, here's a few tips on how to make the dream work with your teammates, even if it feels impossible at the get go.
1. Establish clear objectives and goals
From the get go, make sure everyone in the group in on the same page. If several group members want to take the project one direction and another member prefers another method, majority rules. But don't let the group members who weren't on board in the first place with your groups game plan feel like their voices aren't valued in the brainstorming sessions moving forward.
2. Communicate efficiently
On my last project, a rule we established was that text messages and emails had to be answered within the business day if sent before noon. Messages sent beyond noon had to be answered by 11 in the morning the following day. The week of the presentation, we shortened this time frame. Creating parameters in communication helps ensure timely responses and accountability from each person on the project.
3. Divvy up tasks according to each other's strengths and weaknesses
This is where each team player can truly showcase what they are best at. Pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of each member of the team, skills-wise, is a great way to decide how to divide up essential tasks for the project. If something falls outside the realm of everyone's expertise, consider outsource that particular task to a freelancer.