OverviewI see University as a place not only to learn, but to prepare for work in the future. I realise many seem to not share this view. This has been reflected in my experiences of working in teams throughout all of my educational life so far. I agree that not everyone would like to pursue a career working in industry, but may prefer the theoretical and academic sides. However, I feel that it may possibly be unfair on others should someone be reluctant to do any work let alone do work to a high standard.
The very nature of choice in these assignments can lead to treacherous paths, which can ruin friendships, or create them. You can work with your friends at the risk of conflict, or work with relative strangers and resolve the conflict with no lasting damage - you may never have to work with them again. The university as a whole has a mark sheet with effort allocation, this leads to each person pretending they've done 100% of the work they were required to do. As everyone has to sign and agree to these values you may find yourself reluctant to challenge what a team member has put.
One of my lecturers seems to have been hitting the disciplinary nail on the head; not only is the regular sheet filled in, but a personal sheet is also filled in for individuals to gauge the work of their team mates as they see fit. I believe that this is in the interest of seeing if there is a general trend to the values on these sheets and their status on the overall collaborative sheet. You're not obliged to share these details with your teammates.
ProsIt gives you a taste of what I imagine real world work would be.
- Time management
- Leadership skills
- Communication skills
- A sense of responsibility
- Reflective grading
- Unnecessary stress
- Do-it-yourself attitude
- Stepping on egg shells
- In a real life situation your team will be capable of a task or adapt to be capable
Issues and dealing with themFirst and foremost, it's your degree. You come first, if you're not happy, speak your mind - but be tactful in how you do it. Coming out and saying 'You're wrong!' isn't going to improve a situation. Reason with people, if they can't see how try to shrug it off. Conflict can be beneficial to a team. You may see that you are indeed the person who is wrong. Teammates can open your eyes, so can a bit of self reflection.
You must communicate. Communication is the way work is done. It's like being nagged by a parent, though it may be (arguably) more important. You can keep track of what work is still to be done, what has been done and difficulties others are encountering, in good time before the bad stuff hits the fan.
Starting early is a must. It's easy to fall behind on what needs to be done. This only leads to increased stress and fierce periods of activity at a later date, when time matters people can crumble under the pressure. Getting the work nailed down before a deadline is a great feeling, you can take pride in knowing others are still struggling away - but don't rub it in.
Forget how others may see you when it comes to grading. It's your mark just as much, if not more, as theirs. Be brutal, be honest. If they don't want to work, do you want to work with them again? Did they pull their weight? Did they go the extra mile? Try to do this as you go throughout the task - don't leave it until the last minute. If they're not aware they should be doing more it can be unfair to spring it on them at the last hurdle.
Learn from it. This experience isn't the real world but it can be similar, learning how to deal with people is half the battle trying to avoid what makes people tick can be difficult at times if you're passionate about the cause. But dealing with this in a proactive way can make stepping on those egg shells a little easier and may even see an improvement in your teams work.
Doing moreOne of the most exciting, active, interesting and gratifying things I've done in the way of teamwork has been the Imagine Cup. It's amazing putting ideas together to form a solution to one of the worlds toughest problems. Not only can you learn the responsibilities of being a leader, but every role of the team. Idea moulding and how you go about implementing it can be awesome.
If you have an idea for a project, why not see if you can put it into reality in your spare time? Use it to learn, make friends and feel accomplished. It can add to your CV, personality and passion if nothing else.