Clarify Expectations at the Beginning of a Project

Clarify Expectations at the Beginning of a Project Placeholder Image The best teams clarify expectations at the beginning of the project. This seems obvious, but it is amazing how teams, in their rush to get started on a project, spend too little time discussing and reaching consensus on team goals and priorities. An estimated half of all the problems experienced on ineffective teams are due to misunderstanding or hidden disagreement on goals, priorities, strategies, deliverables, and deadlines.
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Get To Know Each Other Before Starting

Get To Know Each Other Before Starting Placeholder ImageSelf-introductions and a bit of socializing at the beginning of a project can help team effectiveness. Friendly relationships, combined with meeting group expectations for participation and effort, creates a shared sense of trust among team members. And shared trust is a critical ingredient in a highly effective team.

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Define Tasks and Process Roles

Define Tasks and Process Roles Placeholder ImageIn any kind of group project, there are two kinds of decisions you tend to make.  Some decisions involve the task, defining what you are trying to accomplish. Others are process decisions, defining how you will work together to complete the assignment.
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Stay Connected Throughout The Project

Stay Connected Throughout The Project Placeholder ImageIt is obvious that good communication among team members is important for team effectiveness. While some teams end up wasting time by over-communicating, more problems are caused by either under-communicating or by unbalanced patterns of interaction between team members.
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Deal With Conflict Early

Deal With Conflict Early Placeholder ImageMost teams tend to avoid creating and dealing with group conflict, one of the biggest sources of stress and frustration for project teams. But avoiding conflict tends to cause big problems later in the project – often right before the deadline when there is little time to resolve it. The most effective teams learn to deal with conflict early, recognizing that it is much easier to deal with conflict when it is small and inconsequential than when it becomes a major show-stopper to group success.
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Schedule an Appropriate Number of Meetings

Schedule an Appropriate Number of Meetings Placeholder ImageMeetings are a necessary evil in all group projects.  Too few meetings could result in the team's failure to clarify expectations, strategies, tasks, and responsibilities. This often leads to problems later in the project.  Too many meetings can waste team members' time, which leads to frustration and increased apathy for the project.
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Put It All Together With A Clear Plan

Put It All Together With A Clear Plan Placeholder ImageMost teams tend to use a “divide and conquer” strategy in group projects; they break the project down into manageable chunks and assign individuals responsibility for specific parts of the assignment. While this can be a very efficient strategy, it does increase the challenge of integrating all of the individual contributions into a final, high quality product.
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Avoid Doing Things At The Last Minute

Avoid Doing Things At The Last Minute Placeholder ImageOne recurring message you will notice throughout The Group Project Survival Guide is that the best teams get work done early so they do not have to endure the panic, stress, and inevitable problems that arise from doing things at the last minute.
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