If you have not had the wonderful pleasure of working on a small group project where your grade relies, in part, on the effort put forth by the rest of your classmates, you have no idea how fortunate you are.  For the rest of you (who are likely a majority), you know the painful process I’m talking about.

Working in a small group on any sort of project isn’t easy, and you are likely to encounter people in your group who either care more or less about the grade than you do (or both).

In this post, I’m going to go over some of the common types of people you’ll work with in a small group environment and give you some tips on how to deal with them.

These profiles may not cover every type, and you can likely fit yourself into one or more of these personalities, but knowing how other people operate and the reasons behind their actions can help you to better work with them so you can all get the grade you want.

group project members

Type 1: “I don’t even know why I’m here.”

Channing Tatum

There is one of these in almost every class, but not many make it to the end when it is usually project time.  However, you could easily get stuck with someone who just doesn’t care about anything.

They won’t show up to group meetings, they won’t meet deadlines or get their work done, and there is not much you can do to convince them to change their ways.  When you realize you have one of these people in your group (the sooner the better), your best option is to simply tell your professor so they can deal with the student and likely remove them from your group and not hold it against you.

Type 2: “I care way too much about this project.”

cares too much guy

This one isn’t so bad because at least they care and you know you can count on them.  This type of person is more annoying than anything, because they are probably going to send you ten emails a day about the project, constantly bug you on Facebook, and text you non-stop.

What do you do though?  Well, try talking to the person to explain that you know what you are doing and that they don’t need to constantly remind you about it.

Full Disclosure: I can easily become this type of person in a group situation. You have been warned!

Type 3: “I’ll get it done… eventually.”

Lazy College Senior

They care, unlike #1, but not as much as they care about getting drunk on Thursday (and every other) night and if there’s a game on, count them out on being at your after-class group meeting.  They’ll be the ones you wait on to turn in the assignment because they haven’t emailed you their information yet.

Fixing this one should be relatively simple, depending on how committed this person is to procrastination.  Just set clear and definite deadlines and “checkpoints” (and meetings that aren’t during typical game times or booze nights).

If the person doesn’t make the deadline or fails at a checkpoint, talk to your professor. You don’t have to be a snitch, but you do need to pass the class.

Type 4: “I don’t understand a thing about this class.”

confused college guy

They care, they try, and they attempt to meet the deadline.  But the problem comes in when you get their information and see that it makes no sense because even if they think they understand the material, they really have no clue.

It may be completely off base and you might end up fixing their work so the rest of your group isn’t embarrassed. A good solution, however, is to try to teach them and nicely correct their mistakes so they can learn, help the group, and keep them from failing the class as well.

Knowing these types of people won’t only help you when working on a small group project for class, but they’ll also help you when you are working in any certain of group environment – even in the workplace.

While you may not have to deal with people who don’t care at all, you will likely encounter those that don’t understand things, those that care way too much, and even those that put off deadlines until the very last possible second.  All it takes is a little effort on your part and knowing how to recognize how these people prefer to work and you can get through these group work styles with as little stress and as few problems as possible.

Which one of these four types fit your work style?  What other types of people have you encountered in group work environments?