oh, the weather outside is frightful…

It’s no longer 70 degrees like it was on December 1st and it gets dark around 5:00pm, which means that group project time is definitely upon us. Each semester, business students are hit with the harsh reality that they have two or three or even four group projects due that they need to complete.

The business school loves to assign group projects so we learn skills necessary for the ‘real world’. Each student dreads these projects as they only people that they help are the free-loaders who don’t do any work and still get a good grade based on other people’s efforts. The projects require trust as you lose control of your destiny – or at least your grade.

The group dynamics are always the same:

THE ALL-STAR– This person steps up and takes charge, setting deadlines, collecting each person’s part and making sure that the project gets done.

THE ASSISTER– This person helps out the all-star and while not the leader of the group, takes on some of the additional responsibility to make sure the project is compiled and handed in.

THE SLACKERS– These are the people that will eventually get the project done, and usually done well, but don’t do their parts until the very last moment. These are the people that got good grades in high school without trying hard and consequently don’t have the study skills or the desire to work hard in college.

THE DEADWEIGHTS– Unfortunately, these are the people that handicap the whole group. These people don’t show up to meeting, don’t get their parts done and burden the rest of the group members to make up the work that they should be doing. These people are also known as the freeloaders.

This past week, I had two project due and they couldn’t have been more different. The first one, for my Marketing Research class, was HORRIBLE. I can’t even put it into words. The night before it was due, we realized that really none of it was done. The worst part is that we had met everyday the week leading up to the due date. One girl didn’t show up and we had to call her fr her to come out and help us… Then she proceeded to mope and went home at 10pm. We stayed at the computer lab until 3:00am trying to put it together… and then I volunteered to proofread it and put it together, as well as creating the powerpoint for our presentation the next day. Little did I know what was in store for me… I got home and attempted to condense a 26 page report into one that was only 12 pages. I stayed up all night so that it would be ready early in the morning for another group member to go to kinko’s and get it bound (that’s how we do it here at RHSmith). In the end it was 43 pages total, including the appendices and exhibits. I get a phone call from the group member 20 minutes the presentation asking if someone could pick him up because he was still at kinko’s getting the project put together. Then, apparently, there was a small mistake on the last slide of the powerpoint (i said that all our questions were ordinal-scaled, when, in fact, some where interval-scaled). A group member pointed out the mistake to me and said that at least I only had one mistake. ARE YOU KIDDING? I stayed up all night doing additional work because people didn’t pull their weight and then they have the audacity to say something to me. Seriously?!

Then, I had a group project due the next day. We met the night before to practice our presentation because, while I had created the template for the powerpoint slides, everyone submitted their own parts. The meeting lasted a mere half hour. Everyone had already handed in their written parts except me (since all my attention and energy had been focused on the MR project mentioned above). I sent my part in at 11pm and that signaled the completion of our project. The person responsible for putting it together emailed us the final copy at around midnight. It was the easiest group project I’ve ever had to do in terms of people getting their work in. What a difference it can make when people do their part!

And the worst part is, that once the project has been finished, it still has to be presented – which is fine until the Q&A session. There’s ALWAYS that one person that just has to call the group out on something! In both my classes, someone asked us obnoxious questions. SERIOUSLY?! People are ridiculous.