So this past week I returned back to the east-coast to start my MBA program, but I was a little exhausted after driving for 1000 (!) miles. Although the fact that me and my girlfriend did it without tearing eachothers hair out is quite impressive. 15 states, 4 days, and 36 cups of coffee later, im sitting here back in my MBA program fresh from my road trip, when i hear the words that every MBA student secretley dreads. No its not a quiz or a test of some sort, this is something far, far worse...
"OK class, you have a group project, so were all going to say a little something about ourselves and start forming teams of 4."
It was my first day of class (Marketing), I just got back from a very exhausting road trip, it was pouring rain outside, I might have a flu, and now all of a sudden im thrown in front of a class of 37 people who I dont know and im supposed to put on a cheery smile and talk about how I would make a great addition to a group?!?! Seriously?!?
Any of you who are in an MBA program know that group work can be one of the most stressful activities for an MBA student. Actually I thought of a great analogy. Group work on the first day of class is sort of like a blind date. With 3 people. At once. Who have the power to fail you.
I know groups who have actually become very good friends, and end up perfoming very successful group projects...and i have seen groups melt down faster than Mariah Carey at the release of Glitter. So ive decided to use this opportunity to give you some tips on picking a successful group in an MBA program...
1. Location, Location, Location. What does this mean? More often than not people will form groups based on where they are sitting. See someone you know will perform up to par because youve worked with them before? Sit next to them. Conversely, if you know people who have bombed group projects before STAY AWAY. I know, you guys had accounting and next to each other one time last semester and you bonded over the stupidity of transaction analysis, but you are going to be working with this person for the next 16 weeks. The last thing you want is someone you joined a group with because you had some obscure bond with dragging down the whole group.
2. Dont be shy. If you know you see someone you definitely want to work with, PULL THE TRIGGER. Just approach them. Toss out any fear of rejection, the worst that they can say is that they are already in a group. If you have a break during class, strike up a conversation with them, and when class is over just casually say "Hey are you interested in joining a group?". One less thing you have to worry about now...except actually doing the work!
3. Dont wait. Do you want to be the person stuck with the group of people who were too afraid to approach other groups? How do you think your first group presentation will go if you have 3 introverts who didnt want to be in a group in the first place go up to the podium?
4. Girl:Guy Ratio. Also very important. No offense ladies but every time i see a group of 4 girls i already know that its game over...cat fights, US magazine, and debates over which shade of sephora eyeshadow is the prettiest are usually that groups downfall. Same with a group of guys...usually theyll spend the majority of their group sessions high fiving and talking about how hot Tiger Woods mistress #13 is. Try to keep it as close to 50:50 as you can.
5. Google Docs. Need to collaborate word and excel documents in the group? Make everyone get a gmail account and start collaborating through google docs. Who wants to deal with endless back and forth attachments?
Hopefully ive helped you guys with some solid tips. Until next posting...