Group Theory



Working in a group can be an extremely beneficial way of getting work done promptly as well as achieving a better-finished product. However, when you do not know how to properly set up, manage, and then utilize your team members, working with a group can have several drawbacks. There are numerous ways to ensure that you will enjoy your group work as well as make sure you succeed in your goals. One doesn’t need to have excellent social skills or even be that proficient in the work that is being done to excel at working with a team. Instead, an individual should just understand how to use every group member’s strengths and weaknesses, have a structured schedule and make sure everyone knows what is expected of them at all times.

One of the first steps an individual should take in creating a great team for a project is to just clarify the common goals and purposes of the work being done as well as what each team member’s role is; this is when a team leader should be made. This leader should be able to not be afraid of using their authority as well as being completely focused on the task at hand. Delegating work to each team member and ensuring that he or she is skilled in that area is very important; this is where getting to know your team well comes into play. Chances are you will have individuals who are skilled at different things and do poorly in others. For example, assigning a team member to be in charge of the PowerPoint part of a group project who has no experience using it before wouldn’t be a smart move.

Naturally, conflicts are going to arise quite often, even more so than when working alone. However, even some of the worst conflicts, when handled correctly, can produce constructive ideas. Working with others can create stress and personal disagreements as well so it is encouraged to have a leader that knows how to keep their cool during them and know how to properly navigate them to get the team back on track. Some helpful ways to do this are to make sure each team member gets to explain their own specific situation without being rushed, interrupted, or intimidated. A useful way to do this is to set forth clear ground rules from the start about how conflicts should be handled and the generally acceptable behavior of every team member.

Accountability is a significant part of any group task. There should be work that each person is accountable for aside from what the group as a whole is responsible for. These tasks that each group member is assigned should be done at the start and written down clearly so each team member has no excuse for not knowing what is expected from them. The only way to have each team member be accountable for their work is to have a strong leader who isn’t afraid of punishing those who don’t meet the standards set forth from the start. Positive reinforcement is also a highly useful tool to use. Giving credit to those who deserve it will encourage everyone to contribute more.

A past experience I have had using problem-solving techniques when working with a group was during my experience studying Electrical Engineering. The teacher designated me as the leader of 5 other individuals working on a project. The task was to create a light sensitive and motion activated circuit. I knew from the very start that this would be a very time consuming and stressful assignment. However, I decided to put my faith in my team members and gave the project all I had to offer. A lot of my group members would miss class often so I knew that would have to be the first issue I would have to address. I told everyone that if they miss a class, they will be deducted points on their final grade for the project. I then started off by asking numerous questions to each of my group members identifying what their strengths and weakness were. After this, I assigned 3 of my members that were proficient in electrical engineering the task of actually creating and wiring the circuit. Then, after finding out my other 2 members were more skilled with writing, I assigned them to write the paper accompanying the circuit. Although we did run into multiple problems and had a few personal disagreements, through my proper use of conflict management as well as my ability to enforce my authority, we completed the project on time and more importantly, had phenomenal end results.

Though the military, civilian jobs, and my experiences in school, I have learned a lot about working with a team and even more about how I specifically act in them. I generally strive to be the leader in any group I am in however I am always aware that someone else might be better suited for the job. I have also found that I take orders without issue and can generally keep a cool head as well as ensure my other team members stay on task as well. One problem I have run across is that my work ethic varies quite often with the rest of the group. I tend to work too fast and encourage others to do the same when in reality it probably just creates unnecessary stress. Over the years I have learned how to slow down my pace to create a better-finished product as well as not cause other team members anxiety. When working with others, one needs to remember the commonly used phrase, “There is no “I” in team.” Although you might be very skilled in something and just want to show off a little, you must always remember that it doesn’t matter what you can do by yourself. Instead, it is the team’s work that you should be interested in.

An excellent way to encourage you to better yourself is by making a contract. This contract can involve starting or ending things in your life, focusing on new aspects and achievements, or even things you can do to become a better team member when working in groups. When working in a group, my ego sometimes gets the best of me. I try to take charge of the work being done and all it does it cause the rest of the group to suffer. I can try to change this by just understanding that my own personal goals and feelings need to be set aside and instead focused on the rest of my group and more importantly, the task at hand. Another great way to help me strengthen my satisfaction in group tasks is to not take on so much work by myself, but instead, let others have the chance to succeed and then encourage them by using positive reinforcement when they do well. I feel like this would give me more satisfaction than if I did it all alone.

Working as a team provides the opportunity to get a task done quicker, provide a better-finished product, as well as gives an individual the chance to get to know his or her teammates well. Even when a group project is riddled with conflicts and personal disagreements, when you all come together and still finish the work assigned, bonds are made with one another. You will learn about how every team member acts in a given situation and create lasting friendships that will just continue to grow each time you work with one another. No matter what life throws at you, remember to look to those beside you for assistance and guidance. Life is too complicated to do it alone. One should utilize every tool they have to win at life, and some of the best tools we have are each other.


Categories: Group Theory

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