Dealing With Group Project Drama

By Staff Writer Published on July 14, 2017

Group projects are notorious for being one of the most difficult things to endure in your college experience but are considered necessary to help you learn how to work with others. Because let’s face it, in life you’re going to have to work with a whole lot of people you don’t get along with—learning how to deal with these people and still complete your project is a skill you’ll use the rest of your life.

Who to Expect

Every group you’re forced to work in will likely have the same type of people, perhaps just varying in degree of enthusiasm for their given part. Here are six people you can expect to find in just about any group project:

The Alpha

He or she will start off by taking charge the second your group is assembled, and will likely proceed to micromanage every aspect of the project.

The Solution: To avoid issues with this person, let the Alpha know up-front that you’re capable of doing your part for the project and producing nothing less than stellar work. The sooner this person sees you as an ally, the better you’ll work together.

The Putter-Offer

This person puts off every assignment until the last possible moment, leaving the rest of the group stressed to the point of possibly even doing his portion for him just in case.

The Solution: To prevent this person from becoming a burden on your group, break the project into pieces and work together as a group to define clear deadlines to keep everyone on the same page.

The Under-Deliverer

This person is easy to identify from your first meeting—she’s spent the entire time going on and on about how she can make all of these huge, amazing things happen for your project. As time goes on, you begin to wonder about this person when she won’t let you see any progress on her portion of the project, and ultimately, she shows up on the day your project is due with sub-par work and a bunch of excuses.

The Solution: To avoid shock, confusion, and frustration during your presentation or as you combine elements to turn in your project to your professor, meet together the day before things are due to make sure each element meshes well, and there aren’t any issues. This way, if there is a problem with someone not doing their part you have a little time to scramble and still get the project completed.

The Non-Existent Participant

They are easy to pick out because it’s likely you have no idea who they are. The Non-Existent Participant probably won’t show up or offer to help with anything no matter how many times you reach out or how promising their tone sounds when they finally do respond to your hundredth email with a noncommittal response.

The Solution: Aside from sucking it up and divvying up this person’s work among the participating members of the group, the only other option you have is to speak with your professor and let them know what’s going on in hopes they’ll remove this person from your group.

The Ghost

This student is present at every group meeting, but never has an opinion or any productive input to give.* They don’t volunteer for anything but will accept an assignment when given as long as they don’t have to be a part of the presentation.

The Solution: The best way to get this group member involved is by maintaining open lines of communication and asking him or her direct questions to get them talking and force them to participate. Hey, even if they don’t speak up much, at least they’re willing to put in their share of work behind the scenes.

Everyone Else

Depending on the size of your group, there should be at least one or more people who want to participate, are willing to put in their fair share of work, and are truly invested in working together and getting a good grade on this project. Band together and stay strong—you’ll be the ones to keep the rest of your group in check.

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