Ask Willow: Frustrated Group Worker

GIF by Rachel Edelstein

GIF by Rachel Edelstein

The Oak Leaf Staff

Dear Willow,

How do I get through group work without losing it over my lazy partners?

 -Frustrated group worker

Dear “Frustrated group worker,”

Group assignments are the bane of many a college student’s existence. It seems like in every group, there is at least one person who is well practiced in the art of ‘social loafing.’ This term refers to a team member who underperforms, relying on their teammates to drag them along. It can be incredibly infuriating, but with these tips, you can preserve the effectiveness of your team, or at least preserve your personal grade.

The first step is to talk to your team members openly to address issues directly. This works best if you have all members of a group together, so everyone can weigh in. Just be careful not to make your underperforming member feel personally attacked, as that could cause them to separate from the group further.

Find what the person’s strongest attributes and interests are and appeal to those. Group work is about inclusion, and the best way to include someone is to utilize one’s best talents. Pointing out someone’s strengths will motivate them to put in more effort.

Utilize subtle reminders to help keep your team members thinking about the assignment. Nothing too aggressive, just a simple text to check in on progress and remind them of their responsibilities.

Remind lazy teammates that the task at hand affects everyone’s grade. They can be lazy, but it will hurt them more and let everyone else in the group down. Fear is an effective motivator.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to talk to your teacher. This should be done before the due date of the assignment, so it doesn’t look like you are trying to escape a poor grade.

Remember, these classmates are not your friends, and if their laziness is putting your grade in serious peril, don’t feel guilty about throwing them under the bus.