People & Inspiration

In Focus: Six Real Struggles Of Working With Groups

In Focus: Six Real Struggles Of Working With Groups


By Daniel Baysa
Chalk Campus Correspondent 

Common instinct when given a choice between going solo or having a team is to go with a group. It’s a natural part of human behavior in finding safety in numbers, and projects and school works are no different than any natural predator in that regard. Some people think differently however. Last June 20, UP Diliman graduate Ciely Mendoza stirred up a storm on Twitter with her grad pic: a picture of her carrying two trash bags labeled "groupmates," with a witty caption that says "Para sa mga binuhat ko."

Many people found it crass and insensitive to trash people on grad day, but just as many defended her because they found it true: they, and many others, have seen how things might not work out with groups. Here are six reasons showing how group work doesn't always mean teamwork.

1. Coordinating is hard.
Getting together and setting things up can already be a chore when going out on gimmicks with your barkada. How much more problematic would it be setting things up with people you don’t know, with different class schedules and responsibilities? Short projects such as class papers can be easy enough, but what about harder requirements such as theses or investigative projects? This could lead to such wonderful times as waiting endlessly for your groupmates before meetings start or double dipping into research and parts wasting everyone’s time.    


2. They seem clueless.
Not everyone will be equal in a group. Some might be smarter than others, but then there are those that need help to do the smallest things or have things explained to them. Perhaps they aren’t quite as good with the classwork. Perhaps they need help using the programs or tools required for the project. Regardless, they slow down everything by needing their hands held. Still, at least they’re putting in the effort, unlike the next guys on the list.

3. They freeload off everything.
Everybody hates having the dreaded freeloader on the team, those that would laze around while everyone else does the hard work. While you’re all frantically running around doing research, editing, practicing or whatnot, they’re nowhere to be found until it’s too late and you have to cover for them. Group evaluations in recent years have staved this off, but they still exist anywhere you look, bringing down group works for everyone.            

4. Everybody’s procrastinating.
Everyone is tempted to procrastinate. Be very honest: you might’ve done it at one point or another. The thought of leaving it for later is already hard to resist on your own. Group works add a million other excuses for you. You’ll hear voices over your shoulder whispering to “Wait for everyone else…” or “Let someone else do it.” Cram culture is a thing, and it’s an even bigger issue when groups get involved.

5. Somebody might end up doing everything.
It’s common in the course of group work that there’ll be that one person everyone relies on. Maybe they’re smarter than everyone, they have more experience, or maybe they just know how to take charge. Whatever the case, the group ends up relying on them, which misses the point of a group work entirely. At best, it ends up biting your back when that group eval comes in and you get a low grade for procrastinating. At worst, you’ll have a punishment and a stern talking-to from your teacher.

6. Teachers expect more from groups.
Every benefit has its price, and this is the cost of group work. Group works are generally reserved for bigger requirements. Because you’re working together, teachers rightly expect better output from all of you. Combine  it with the other problems above, and you have a gigantic headache on your hands if the team can’t get it together which might make you want to swear off teams for the rest of your life.

This isn’t to say that group works are inherently terrible. You get to meet new faces and make new friends, or catch up and get together with old ones. Plus, going solo has its own share of problems, considering the increased workload. Just keep in mind what happens if group projects don’t work out, and consider doing things on your own if you think you’ll be better off.

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