When teamwork does not make dream work

The Idea Machine

Two words: group project. Send any shivers down your spine? Love them or hate them, group projects are a part of college life. Here are eight types of group members that you may find yourself working with throughout your semester.

The Dictator

With great power comes great responsibility, and The Dictator is not afraid to use that power to the fullest extent. They elect themselves group leader and call all the shots: who will do what in the project, choosing which ideas are worthy of being used and how the project will be presented. Nothing ruins a positive group environment quite like The Dictator. If you have one in your group, form an alliance with your group members and firmly confront the person. Your time spent together will be a nightmare if it is not addressed.

The Magician

Now you see them, now you don’t. The Magician shows up to one meeting and then is never seen again. They don’t respond to texts or e-mails, yet still want the full credit for “helping” with the project. They can be the most aggravating member to deal with in a group project. Make sure that The Magician is held accountable for their actions. If they aren’t, the project will be missing pieces that you will probably have to fill. Don’t be afraid to let the professor know during group evaluations — go ahead, call them out.

The Complainer

Everything being suggested simply isn’t good enough. The professor is out to get them; there’s not enough time to complete the project or it’s all just wrong. The Complainer isn’t satisfied with anything the group is coming up with and isn’t afraid to vocalize it. Complainers can bring the group’s positive energy to a screeching halt and can really make work sessions unpleasant. The group leader or another member should talk to a Complainer privately and make sure they are on task and partially satisfied with the group’s decisions.

The Workhorse

Whether the Workhorse is afraid of group evaluations or simply likes to keep busy, they’re the person who wants to do everything for the project. While this may seem like a good idea at first (less work for you to do, right?), it really isn’t fair for one person to take on the responsibility of an entire project. It will also make things difficult come group evaluations: you won’t receive credit if you let The Workhorse do everything. Offer to take some of the work off the Workhorse’s back, and have the group leader make sure the load is evenly distributed amongst all the members. Offer to take some of the work off the Workhorse’s back, and have the group leader make sure the load is evenly distributed amongst members.

The Silent One

Are all your group members present but you aren’t hearing all the voices? You may be dealing with a Silent One. Often, they do what the group leader assigns them because they don’t want to use their voice to speak up for themselves. While Silent Ones aren’t toxic group members, they aren’t exactly the most productive either. Encourage them to speak up with ideas about what they want to do for the group project, or talk to them one-on-one outside of group meetings if they seem shy. If they feel ignored, they run the risk of becoming a negative presence.

The Idea Machine

You’re astounded how one individual can have so many ideas about one project. Some of them are good, some of them awful and some of them aren’t half bad. The Idea Machine wants to make sure that the group knows they have something to offer. Maybe they’re trying to make sure they have the favor of the group for evaluations, maybe they’re just a good student. Either way, the Idea Machine doesn’t do much harm as long as the other group members are able to contribute their ideas, too. If they become overwhelming, ask other members for their thoughts in order to keep balance.

The Coattail Rider

They want to pair up with you to help you get the task done faster. They want to research for you so you can actually write the report. Wanting to do very little work, but just enough so they can say that they did something during group evaluations is an identifying factor. Some Coattail Riders can be sneaky by just seeming friendly. However, to make sure you’re not carrying the weight of another person, politely say that you want to manage your own part for the group. It will keep feelings from being hurt and you won’t be responsible for someone else’s grade.

The Perfect One

They contribute ideas to the group without being too pushy or overpowering, they complete their work well and on time, and they respond to communications from the other group members. They are responsible, self-motivated and respectful to the group. Extremely hard to find, these individuals make group projects more fun and less of a class obligation. The Perfect One will definitely keep in touch after the project is completed — dare say even become your friend. Consider being a Perfect One yourself if you cannot find one in your group: it will make your college experience much more enjoyable.