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Group Work

How to Be a Good Group Member

Being a good group member is more than just being liked by other people—it involves committing to your role on a project and actively creating an environment where everyone feels safe to share ideas, to lean on each other for support, and to encourage new approaches to the work.

In this section, we'll talk about important traits and skills that make someone a good group member. We'll also offer some tips on how you can work on those skills too!

10 Tips to be a Good Group Member

Group projects are everyone's responsibility—and a good group member should take ownership of their work while also contributing to the positive, productive environment of the group itself.

Click on the boxes below for 10 tips on how to be a better group member during your next project:

Healthy communication skills are critical for creating a positive group environment. Actively listening, relaying your ideas clearly, and taking and receiving feedback effectively will help you connect with your group and avoid common group work challenges.

Strong communicators also know how to check in with themselves and others to make sure everyone agrees on their next steps. This means being self-aware, practicing empathy, and improving emotional regulation. You can support others better if you understand your biases and triggers and can put yourself in their shoes.

Your group will face challenges—it's bound to happen during any group project. Critical thinking and problem-solving are essential to help you collaborate effectively and overcome these hurdles. Be ready to suggest creative solutions when brainstorming with your group members.

Some key skills to work on here include:

  • Being open to discussion.
  • Remaining unbiased.
  • Addressing issues or problems immediately.
  • Staying optimistic, even when the work is hard.
  • Negotiating group decisions so everyone feels heard.
  • Focusing on solutions and not getting stuck on the problems.

You should know what’s expected of you and how your role fits within the group project. You should also be realistic about how much you can take on—others depend on you, so make sure you can deliver.

If you're unsure how to choose roles and delegate work, check out the section on Writing a Group Contract to get you started!

Taking the initiative means helping prevent problems before they happen. It also means addressing problems as soon as they happen, if and when they do. Be ready to spring into action before someone asks you to help out—your initiative may inspire others to be more proactive.

Someone is likely waiting for you to finish your work so they can do theirs. Use your time management skills so you don't let them down—this will make you a valuable and dependable group member throughout your project. Check out the Time Management module on the Academic Skills Hub to learn more!

Some key examples of this accountability include:

  • Immediately owning up to, apologizing for, and addressing mistakes.
  • Being honest about your abilities and commitments outside the group.
  • Setting and reaching your own goals—you could even try setting SMART Goals!
  • Planning ahead and blocking out time in your schedule to work on your part of the project.

Most projects go through a planning phase where everyone’s assigned tasks. Be transparent about your abilities and help people understand how you can contribute. Ask for jobs that take advantage of your skillset. Also, think about skills you'd like to develop—you could volunteer to take on a supporting role for the person taking the lead on a specific task so you can learn how to do it too!

Take the time to Self Reflect on your own strengths and preferences, and make sure those items are added to your Group Contract!

High-performing group members feel supported and validated by each other. Motivate your group by sharing positive feedback, expressing gratitude for their hard work, and asking them often if they need help (just make sure you don’t take on more than you can handle in a given term!)

Some additional ways to encourage your group members include:

  • Complimenting each other when you've shared a great idea or done some great work.
  • Communicating areas for improvement in a positive, constructive way.
  • Giving recognition for accomplishments and personal growth.
  • Helping your group members learn something new or reach their goals.

Found a useful online resource? Send it to your group.

Worked on similar projects before? Share your experience.

This information exchange will help everyone produce better work and make it easier to problem-solve difficult challenges together.

If you don't know or understand your group's shared goals, you could unintentionally cause problems and hurt the group's progress. Make sure you understand the overall objectives of your project, your role on the team, and whose roles depend on you finishing your work by a certain due date.

Ask yourself a few questions first:

  • Do I understand the assignment requirements and my group's approach to the project?
  • Do my group members understand what I’m prioritizing and why?
  • How do my deadlines affect my group members' progress on their tasks?

Group work is about bringing together a diverse set of individuals with unique perspectives and skills. Practice your mental flexibility by being open to different approaches and techniques—you’ll learn something new and encourage your group members to share innovative ideas.