The Not-So-Dreaded Group Project, Take Two

The Not-So-Dreaded Group Project, Take Two
  By Emily Jacques

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What’s Your Group Project Personality Type: — Controller, Work Horse, Socialite or Slacker?

Group projects are like a big game of Risk — you have to figure out what kind of people you’ll be working with or you’re history. If you all are hard workers and get along really well, group projects can be fun. Groups can do a bigger, more interesting topic or a more ambitious project, and, if everyone pulls their weight, it’s less work than doing a project or essay on your own.

But we’ve all been part of a project where somebody didn’t appear to pull their weight, or another person got all bossy and wouldn’t let anyone make decisions. Miscommunication and personality clashes cause group project hell. So if you can figure out your personality type, and how to motivate other personality types, then you can avoid some of the arguments and hurt feelings that come with a group project personality clash.

The Controller

Controllers are really focussed on grades. They worry that if they don’t take control, no one else will work and they’ll get a bad grade. Controllers are creative problem-solvers and strong leaders. But they can also drive everyone else in the group crazy. When a controller refuses to listen to other people’s ideas or when the Controller becomes domineering, the group project becomes a disaster, even if the teacher gives it an “A”. That’s because the project is about the Controller, and everyone else is excluded and alienated. This personality type is good at generating ideas, organizing the project and making sure things get done, but a group project can be sidelined when the Controller “enjoys” the leadership role too much.

If you’re a Controller:
1. Relax. There is always an uncomfortable pause when the people in your group meet for the first time. Don’t charge in immediately with your plans. Instead, ask if anyone has any ideas first and wait until someone answers. You may be surprised to discover that the quietest person has ideas if they don’t feel pressured and intimidated by you.

2. Let others take the lead at times. If you feel like no one’s working on things, and it’s up to you to save the day: don’t. When people lose interest in something, it’s usually because they feel that they have no say in the decisions. They feel like slaves, instead of equals. Make sure you are inclusive and that you give plenty of time for others to give ideas. Don’t say “no” to an idea just because you think you could do it better. Sometimes it’s better to use other people’s ideas just to motivate the group.

3. Set up roles early. It’s easier to figure out who isn’t pulling their weight, if everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.

The Work Horse

The Work Horse types seem like the opposite of the Controller types but Work Horse are really more like a reflection of the same personality type. Both Work Horses and Controllers like to get things done. But the Work Horse

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