Getting through MBA groupwork

Getting through MBA groupwork.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Teamwork is great – when everyone is moving forward together. As MBA students, working with groups or on teams is necessary. Sometimes, we can create our ideal MBA groupwork scenario which includes professionals from different industries who offer diverse skills sets, and everyone gets along like lifelong friends. Other times, we find ourselves in random groups, working with different work styles, personalities and leadership styles. Defining the goals of the project may be straightforward (as in, they’re listed in the syllabus), but the path to the final product can be an epic battle.

Groupwork tends to suck (sorry).
MBA groupwork

Everyone has that one horrible group experience that still makes them shudder when they find out a group project is worth 40% of the final grade. We’ve all worked with the one who loves the sound of his voice so much that your group goes over the time limit (point-deductions, thanks), or the one who cannot finish writing her piece because she is too busy obsessing over PowerPoint animations, or the one who… (insert your awful MBA groupwork story here). But MBA groupwork doesn’t always have to suck.

Assess the situation and get their digits.

Get everyone’s emails and cell phone numbers once you are assigned to work together. Introduce each other and know what everyone does and what they offer to the team. Knowing you have an IT specialist on your team in your IT strategy class is a little gem you want to know now.

Get started early (seriously).

Set out a schedule, and work together to decide on dates for deliverables. Some of the group may not appreciate your overzealous planning efforts at first, but when other groups are scrambling, you can enjoy some time to revise and rehearse.

Last semester, my group started working on our project six weeks before it was due (not my idea, but I appreciated it in the end!). In our first meeting, we calmly planned out the project schedule. No one felt rushed and everyone got their parts done on their own time. It really felt like minimal effort and we all brought home an A. Best group experience, ever.

Focus on the big picture

Not everyone is going to along with everything the group decides. Some may even enjoy playing the other side — every. time. you. discuss. anything. Deal with these team members and conflicts that arise by reminding everyone of the end goal, and how much this project fits into the big picture (like, 40%?). This may be a required class that doesn’t fall in line with anyone’s major or concentration, but no one wants to fail.

No one wants to be the nerd in the group, policing everyone else, but sometimes you need to be the one to install some law and order. Plus, if no one really cares, “it’s just a project, chill,” why are you even there?

Understand the value of a Google Doc

Google Docs is fantastic for working in groups. In case you’ve never seen one of these before, a Google Doc is a shared document that you can easily access using an email address (docs.google.com). They are free and easy to use. Not much else to say about this, but I will take a Google Doc over a clogged Inbox with 73 versions of the same PowerPoint any day.

Would love to hear your stories about MBA groupwork of tips for better group experiences in business school. Either comment below or tweet them (@MBAchic).

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