- Can I choose my partners myself?
- What if we cannot agree on how to work together
- What if we have terrible chemistry?
- What do I do if I’m stuck with someone who doesn’t make an effort?
- What if my partner doesn’t care about this project or their grade?”
- Will we get a group grade or an individual grade?
We have all been there. And we have all been a part of a study group or joint project where at least one member didn’t pull their weight. First and foremost: But don’t panic! This situation can definitely be mitigated by following a few pieces of advice:
1. Talk to them
Don’t automatically assume that your study partner is lazy or is uninterested. First, talk with them without adopting an accusatory tone. Keep an open mind and an understanding attitude in order to understand what is going on with your partner. Depending on what you see fit, decide if it’s better to hold this conversation in private or if it should include all group members at once.
Keep an open mind and an understanding attitude in order to understand what is going on with your partner.
2. Recognize what motivates them
Before setting up a joint working schedule, it is beneficial to understand what kind of individuals you are in a group with. For some doing what is needed to pass is enough. They may focus on a job they have next to their studies etc. For others, going above and beyond is important, and their grade may be significant for their future plans as well. No one in this scenario is in the right. But getting a sense of the different motivations would allow for optimal work distribution.
3. Set clear deadlines
For people who like to procrastinate, deadlines can be a way to make sure that work and progress are being done along the way. Having a single deadline by the end of the project can diminish the sense of urgency and leave space for procrastination. Likewise, you might risk not having enough time to make corrections or to improve the quality of your work.
Having a single deadline by the end of the project can diminish the sense of urgency and leave space for procrastination.
4. Have clear communication
Establish a communication system that works for all of the team members (e-mail, Whatsapp, video calls, etc.) and have regular check-ups throughout the project where all team members report on their progress and offer each other feedback and/or support in order to make sure of finishing the project on time and with good results.
5. Talk to a professor
If you have already talked to your study partner, set deadlines, and established clear communication and they are still not pulling their weight, maybe it’s time to reach out to your professor. The goal in the first place shouldn’t be to “expel” your partner from the group, but to make your professor aware of the situation, the steps you have taken, and to talk about what other strategies or possibilities they see fit for this case. Especially if you don’t know your study partner that well, there is a chance that your professor knows them better than you do and could offer a specific piece of advice suited to that person.
If you have already talked to your study partner, set deadlines, and established clear communication and they are still not pulling their weight, maybe it’s time to reach out to your professor.
6. Finally, accept things as they are
The situation we have described in this article can be a very unpleasant one. It is normal to feel scared or annoyed, as a confrontation is never an easy or enjoyable thing to go through. If after following all of the above advice and getting support from your professor or your fellow group members you find that your study partner is still not pulling their weight, then you have to make a decision. You could either come to terms with the fact and continue to try to deliver the best possible project despite the situation, or you could explore with your professor a possibility to regroup or change study partners. It is good to be an understanding person, but it’s definitely not ok to let others take advantage of you or your group’s work. Whatever you decide to do in the end, own it and learn from it!
Remember that when you get your first job, you are likely to experience similar situations with colleagues. Only at the workplace, you can’t just change teams if you dont work well together. Therefore, learning to work with people who are different from you and learning to communicate while you are still at school will make you master the delicate relations of the workplace in the future.
Remember that when you get your first job, you are likely to experience similar situations with colleagues.
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