How to Succeed at Group Projects at Work

By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC

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Group projects are part of everyday life in many workplaces. By working successfully on a team, you can accomplish more than you could individually. You can also improve your career prospects by expanding your professional network and developing new skills/discovering hidden talents. Here are some of the major benefits of teamwork and some strategies for success:


Benefits of Group Projects at Work 

1. Build harmonious relations with your co-workers. Understanding, appreciating and working with many different personality types is fundamental to good teamwork. The same qualities that make you work effectively as a team member can also make your relationships with your colleagues more pleasant. Being part of a team is a great way to really get to know your colleagues. You may find some hidden talents in yourself as well as others which may not have been discovered without this project. 

2. Adapt to an increasingly diverse society. Over time, you're likely to interact with people from a wide array of backgrounds. Developing the knowledge and ability to succeed in a diverse society is important to your future. Having an appreciation for diverse viewpoints helps create a better product and/or service. 

3. Prepare for career changes. Most of us will change jobs and even careers during our lifetimes. Group projects are an opportunity to network and develop the teamwork skills and achievements that prospective employers value. If you do remain in your current position, the bond that you formed with your team can also help you to maintain morale even during times of high turnover. 

4. Gain direct rewards. Group project are so important that some employers offer direct incentives. You may qualify for bonuses or extra vacation days if your group meets its goals. Even if your employer doesn't have such programs in place, keep in mind that any accomplishments can enhance your resume and increase your chance of being promoted at your job.

 Steps for Better Collaboration 

1. Consider your corporate culture and budget. Structured activities and trained facilitators can be valuable in helping people to interact in challenging situations outside the office. But even if your company doesn't use these tools, there are effective ways to promote collaboration. The essentials of team building can be implemented in any organization.

2. Establish clear goals. Putting aside personal agendas to focus on shared goals rather than simply trying to look good personally is one of the keys to successful teamwork. Ensure your goals for group projects are clearly stated, understood, and accepted. If possible, group decision-making will strengthen a sense of consensus and ownership.

3. Assign responsibilities. Assigning personal responsibilities in advance ensures accountability and prevent misunderstandings later on. It can also help prevent conflicts by minimizing areas of overlapping authority.

4. Build trust and cooperation. Group projects will proceed more smoothly in an organization that sincerely values trust and cooperation. Encourage open communication at work. Use meetings and informal communications to keep people updated.

  •  Provide opportunities for socialization outside the workplace without encroaching on people's personal and family obligations.
  • Develop a caring environment where providing assistance to colleagues is an explicit part of jobs descriptions and performance evaluations.
  •  Be willing to compromise when necessary so the work can proceed until there's an opportunity to find more lasting arrangements.

5. Address interpersonal issues. Personal agendas and personality conflicts will inevitably arise from time to time. Strive to address these challenges quickly and comprehensively. Look for long-term solutions for the challenge and meet the needs of all individuals while strengthening relationships and trust.

6. Be generous with thanks and praise. Let employees know how important the project is to the company. Tell them about the impact it will have on the organization and the people it serves. Ensure that people know they are valued and appreciated. Share the credit, and use feedback to recognize positive contributions as well as areas of weakness. Praise generously in public and have one on one meetings for negative feedback.

Learning to succeed in group projects can improve your career and relationships with your co-workers. By becoming a better team player, you can become an indispensable member of the group, which leads to bigger and better opportunities within the company and beyond.

Additional Resources

7 Strategies for Coping with Difficult Co-Workers

Conflict Resolution: Dealing with a Toxic Workplace

How to Stay Confident in a Competitive Workplace

How to Work Well in Teams