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5 Tips for Surviving Group Projects at Work

Group working on project at work

There certainly can be strength in numbers. But working as a group doesn’t mean everyone’s always on the same wavelength.

Whether you’re a manager or team member, you’ve probably felt the domino effect — when one person doesn’t handle their time and attention well, it derails the whole team’s productivity.

Learn a few productivity tips that make group projects run smoother, keep headaches at bay, boost camaraderie and minimize grouchiness.

1. Keep communication clear

In a world where project plans often change, clear communication binds everyone together in beautiful, synergistic harmony. And no matter your role, you’re obligated to help keep the conversational lines open for business.

How can you make sure everyone hears your message? Communicate goals and methods to your team across multiple channels. Use communication tools effectively, like meetings to solve problems, status reports to keep people informed, project plans to gain buy-in and share broad goals, emails for reviews, and messaging apps for quick needs.

Remember that coworkers need reminders. Create space for clarifying questions so that things get done the right way. Sometimes you have to dive in without enough information, but the more you’re able to know or convey upfront, the better.

2. Keep meetings focused

Feel like meetings devour all your time? You could be bored with them, on information overload … or tired of how often they interrupt your workflow. To create and complete group projects, you can’t do without meetings, but you can do them better.

How to make your meetings more efficient:

  • Make them smaller – Try to keep only a few voices at the table. Fewer voices means less talking and less confusion.
  • Streamline communication – Shorter, fewer in-person meetings will do the trick.
  • Stay on topic – Minimize sidebars and tangents. A polite redirection goes a long way.
  • Minimize distractions – Close laptops and switch off cell phones when a meeting can function without them.
  • Experiment with standing up – The longer everyone’s standing, the shorter the meeting will run.

3. Know when to delegate

You’re smart and talented. You can do a lot of things, but it doesn’t mean you should do all of them. Know when to delegate tasks to other group members. The elementary rules of “sharing is caring” and “there’s no ‘i’ in team” apply here.

Do you really need to be on that phone call? In every meeting? Planning the details of an event all by yourself?

Part of being efficient is knowing when — and whom — to ask for help. It’s not about lacking the skills. It’s about lacking the time and attention. Keep your schedule less chaotic so you can focus on your most important things. Empower others to solve problems.

On the flipside — if your load feels light, ask your coworkers what you can do to help.

4. Build your task list in the evening

This tip is especially important for managers and team leads. Don’t wait until the morning to get your priorities in order. Pulling tomorrow’s tasks together in the evening will help you gain morning momentum. With a tidy list, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and distracted by a morning flood of less important emails and requests.

If you’re not managing a project and there’s anything you can prepare ahead of an important meeting or presentation, get your stuff together the day before. Remember that domino effect? Your team members will thank you.

5. Get to know your team

There are productivity perks to talking to team members about anything other than work. You’ll get to know them better, keep communication flowing, contribute to a positive atmosphere and build mutual trust. Then everyone’s comfortable enough to ask for help, offer solutions and share minor issues before they become fires too difficult to extinguish.

Plus, working closely with others can be enjoyable, right? Remember that you’re all humans — not machines. Poke fun at each other’s idiosyncrasies, plan a group happy hour and simply ask: “How are you?”

Get out there and crush it 

With these productivity tips now on your radar, evaluate how your current projects are going. How can you and your team improve? Facilitate a process for efficient collaboration and communication, and you’ll not only survive group projects — you’ll thrive, too.