We’ve all experienced the pain of being stuck with difficult group members, and if you’re watching this video I’m guessing you know exactly what I mean. Let’s go over the different species we’re dealing with. ‘Self-Appointed Bosses’ are the most difficult of them all. They love telling others what to do without doing much themselves. Team members with ‘Bad Vibes’ are the biggest downers. They always shoot down your ideas without coming up with any solutions of their own. ‘Deadweights’ are just here for the free ride. They’ll skip meetings without any notice and when you try to track them down, they’ll ghost you like a Tinder date. ‘Procrastinators’ are capable of great work, but man, they’re the reason that you’re up at 11:58 p.m. praying that your assignment gets submitted on time. During meetings, ‘Ramblers’ will go on and on about what they ate for lunch, what they did a band camp, and what their favourite bubble tea is. Basically, everything except the group project. Then there’s the poor souls who are ‘Always Confused’. Even when they try to do their best, they can’t deliver good work. Now that we’ve covered the different types of difficult team members, let’s talk about ways to deal with them. Before you start tackling your project, I recommend having a casual hangout with your team members first. You may be tempted to skip this step, but it really helps build mutual trust and respect within the team. Once you’re ready to get down to business, create a group contract. The contract outlines things like ground rules, response time and expectations. Additionally, you may want to set up an ongoing meeting time and include that in the contract. This way everyone can plan their schedules around it, so there’s no excuse not to attend. You can also take turns bringing snacks to team meetings. It can really help boost attendance, reduce tardiness, and just make the experience better overall. It really makes a difference when you divide tasks based on everyone’s strengths and interests. For example, someone who’s great at design can make a sleek PowerPoint, while someone who is a great writer can edit the report. Make sure to delegate the most important part to someone who’s reliable. Maybe not the procrastinator. Since group projects can be a long and gruelling process, I found it helpful to set mini milestones and rewards along the way. This keeps everyone motivated and on track. In the past, there were times where I took on too much in a group project and over-contributed, which caused others to contribute less. Since then I’ve learned to give others space to contribute, just to have everyone more included. Another thing that I found helpful is to have mini group meetings to accomplish specific tasks. If two people are working on the same part, they can meet up separately to get things done more efficiently. This strategy can help get more out of every group member. If there is dysfunction, you need to be prepared to address it. Throughout the whole project you should document all communications on contributions from each group member. You can assign everyone a colour so it’s clear who wrote what and who contributed. Once you’ve identified a problem member, ask yourself whether there are factors within the group that are causing the team member not to deliver. This gives you a chance to resolve the root of the problem before you start pointing fingers. Try using ‘we language’ and speak to the issue, not the person. Lastly, if you need to, there’s no shame in talking to your professor. This is where it’s handy to have documentation to back you up. It really does get better with time and if you ever feel frustrated, just know that you are not alone. And if you need to vent about a group member, feel free to do it in the comment section below. Good luck with your future projects!