Evolving your Group into a Team


It’s game time; everything you’ve worked towards for the past semester culminates in one hour-long presentation. Sweaty palmed, you fix your tie, start up the power point presentation, take one last big, deep breath and face the panel of executives sternly sitting in a row across from you. Nerves almost take hold, but you look behind you and find solace in the faces of your team members. Everyone has done his or her part; you’ve rehearsed this a million times and you all trust each other to deliver the best presentation of your lives. Facing the judges, you begin the introduction:

“Hello, I’m Will Zhang. These are my colleagues…”

Any business program at a college or university revolves around being assigned a group and hoping it evolves into a team. Group members have their own personal interests in mind. Things may get done, but personal achievements overshadow the efforts of the group as a whole. Groups often complain about members who can’t be fully trusted, aren’t “pulling their weight”, and have to be micromanaged.

Occasionally, with the right mix of leadership, group cohesion and trust, the group slowly changes into a team. A group becomes a team when individual potential falls short of combined potential. When members work so well together that the end product is something everyone agrees is greater than something any individual could produce, you’ve made it. Team members know that they can rely on each other and need not worry about tasks being left undone. Here are 4 quick tips to facilitate team-creation.

  • “You can’t always get what you want”

Groups are often picked at random – you have to work with what you’re given. Don’t waste time thinking about what “could have been”… if only “Josh were on our team,” or if “Sarah would actually do her work and stop texting under her desk during meetings.”

  • “Start with the man in the mirror”

Maybe the problem isn’t just Sarah’s texting habits. Maybe staying up until 2 A.M. every night watching Friends reruns on the Internet isn’t the healthiest habit. Make sure you’re doing your best before criticizing others.

  • “Let’s talk about trust; let’s talk about love”

Have open and frank discussions with your group about work distribution and shared contribution. If someone starts slacking, it is everyone else’s responsibility to make sure that the slacker stops slacking! It isn’t really fair that Sarah doesn’t respond to any emails and doesn’t pay attention in meetings. If you don’t tell Sarah to step it up, she may not think she has to.

  • “Get out, right now. It’s the end of you and me”

Sometimes, when it comes down to it, some people just will not cooperate even after the best recovery efforts. If one person is holding the group back from becoming a team, it’s time to consult a higher authority about dropping an unresponsive member. This is definitely a last resort, and really should only be implemented if NOTHING else has worked.

Hope these tips help!

-Will Zhang


Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About William Zhang

Will is currently a junior at Skidmore College, where he studies Business and French. He’s almost always in the mood for a burrito from Chipotle, especially after wandering around town taking photos. (Blog: illzhang.tumblr.com)

Will enjoys learning languages and travel—after recently studying in Paris, he’s off to Tokyo in March (but currently resides in quiet Newton, MA).

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