Whether you are an undergraduate in a business course working a community project, a graduate student in a course seminar working on team project involving people with a variety of skills, a local community activist serving on a board to spend some designated public funds, or in the workplace devising a new training procedure, it is vital to learn how to work effectively in a group. Industrial and organizational psychologists have long studied group human behavior and how to generate the maximum human performance.
With this mind, here are some secrets to effective group collaboration:
Establish a Group Manger
This person’s role would be to delegate group tasks, enforce deadlines, and consult with external forces outside the group like supervisor. This should not be seen as a boss but more as a person who is entrusted with the responsibility of make sure all goes smoothly.
Define a specific and clear goal
Since the group is coming together for a purpose, that purpose should be clearly defined and understood by each group member, The goal should be agreed upon by all.
Divide Tasks and Determine a Timetable.
This step involved responsibility and clear communication. A project management plan should be created. The failure of many group projects can be traced to this step. Some questions that should be asked is if everyone is on board with what needs to be done and when it needs to be accomplished.
Decide a meeting schedule and a procedure for monitoring each other’s work.
The frequency of the meetings should be related to the timeline of the completion of the work. Also, there should be a framework for others in the group to be able to evaluate the work. Email, online, or face-to-face are some of the options of how to do this. Develop a file-naming system for the various drafts. The project manager should be responsible for regular progress reports.
Determine a procedure for dealing with group dynamic or interpersonal conflicts.
No matter age, level of employment, or stages of life, personality conflicts will arise. Sometimes it can be a matter of maturity or ego. The best way to handle these is to keep the focus on professionalism, refrain from personal attacks, and operate with the goal in mind to complete the project.
For more information on the theory of industrial and organizational management, check out the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology (SIOP).