Group Work: The Basics

Group Work: The Basics

As media students you will eventually be entering industries that all place high priority on their employees’ ability to work well in and contribute to a team. Employers are looking for graduates who can bring new or different strengths to their existing teams. 

SKILLS NEEDED FOR GROUP WORK

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Group work requires the consistent application of certain skills in order for the process to run smoothly, and to allow for different people, with different attributes and personalities to work together effectively.

Communication & Listening Skills

Effective group work requires participants to practice both good communication & listening skills.

We’ve all at one point or another switched off when someone was taking, or interrupted someone because we just had to share our thoughts right. That. Instant. It’s fine to allow your communication and/or listening skills to slip in casual, social environments, but when it comes to high stakes situations, such as working on a group assignment, or with a team on a multi-million Rand campaign, these skills can be make or break, not just for you but the whole group.

TIPS FOR IMPROVING COMMUNICATION SKILLS

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  • Speak ‘in’ the group and not ‘at’ the group – speaking at someone comes across as domineering & not open to response
  • Speak to the whole group and not just your friends in the group
  • Contribute to the discussion, don’t dominate
  • Ask questions but don’t be argumentative
  • Encourage the group to stick to the topic and not waste time
  • Build on other’s ideas eg “That’s a good point, because it will…”
  • Use ‘open’ language eg “what do you guys think?” vs “I think we should” – people are more likely to listen and consider suggestions put forward in an open manner
  • Acknowledge your errors and apologise – by owning and apologising for your mistakes minor issues will remain just that
  • Be considerate of other’s feelings – think before you speak
  • Summarise what the group has agreed on to be executed by the next meeting – this ensures that everyone is on the same page

TIPS FOR IMPROVING LISTENING SKILLS

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  • A lot of the time we don’t listen with the intent to understand or hear what the other person is saying instead we listen with the intent to reply. For effective group communication you need to concentrate on what the other person is saying, rather than thinking about what you want to say in response
  • Don’t interrupt others – everyone should be allowed the time and space to have their say or make their contribution without interruption
  • Focus on the content of what the person is saying, and then build on it or link it to other ideas

 

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