Being a recent graduate from Duquesne in early May 2021 and starting the MBA-SBP program at the end of May 2021, I felt that I was very prepared to take on the next level of schooling. The summer semester proved to be much more intense and group work focused than I had anticipated. In every class there was at least one group project and responsibilities were much more complex. With most of my cohort members being primarily online for the summer semester, almost all of the interactions that I had with my group members were via text, email, or Zoom.
The online/hybrid format of the summer semester had its positives and negatives, but it made group work trickier to navigate. Everyone had very different schedules, learning styles, and preferences that needed to be worked around to work together effectively. Frustrations would arise across groups and classes as available times did not align, proactive vs. procrastination preferences were not shared, and desired times of the day to meet did not line up. These are common issues that existed in undergraduate groups as well, but the online nature of the courses and difficulty of the assignments led to the issues being magnified.
Ultimately, these issues need to be overcome to successfully complete group tasks and assignments. As teams, we all share the same goal of learning, producing an output that we are proud of, and earning a good grade for our efforts. It is important to realize that although the way we all do things is different, no one is wrong. Respecting one another’s preferences, outside obligations, and time played a major role in coming to much-needed compromises.
One of the key aspects of prep work at the beginning of the semester was development of a team contract. The team contract outlined best times and forms of communication to reach team members. It also listed actions that the team wished to practice or avoid while working together. Throughout the semester teams can refer back to the agreed upon contract and it served as a guide. Creating the contract eliminated any sort of misunderstanding and laid out expectations. It was an extremely helpful resource given the nature of the program.
Upon reaching compromise, practicing respect, and adhering to the team contract, teams can work together effectively and cohesively. Having a positive team dynamic and support of team members is essential for constructive interactions and a thorough consulting solution. Working through these issues successfully early in the program was good practice for the following semesters and working in the corporate world.