Articles from Cass Knowledge

The positive pitfalls of group work

Working in a group is by no means an easy feat, but it is an incredibly rewarding one nonetheless. There are multiple factors to consider, such as individual weaknesses and strengths, meeting times, goals and deadlines.

To give a brief overview of the first term, we have five modules to get through: ‘Marketing Fundamentals’, ‘Marketing Strategy and Practice’, ‘Creativity. Innovation. Design’, ‘Essentials of Accounting and Finance’ and ‘Market Research’.

The majority of our work has been group assignments. For instance, in the second module, we have to participate in a business simulation for which you have to imagine that your team have been recruited as Marketing Managers for a division of a large diversified firm.

For this project, our group sat down and discussed our goals for the coming months. We aimed for a distinction grade by Christmas and decided to meet twice a week to discuss our workload. Little did we know by week two of term that this idea would result in us meeting five days a week, to such an extent that I was considering bringing a sleeping bag and a flask of tea! Having said that, every group works differently, but for us we excelled by working together in a study room as opposed to working individually.

As the weeks continued and the workload became more intense, I began to notice my own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of my fellow teammates. What I can honestly advise everyone to do is to discuss these factors before you begin your work. I have observed two ‘positive pitfalls’ that groups can encounter and how they should be tackled:

There should be no shame in discussing what you aren’t good at. Many times I have found that in groups it is easier to brush your weaknesses under the carpet. But if you see someone struggling in your group, you need to discuss it. In my group, we noticed an issue that had the potential of affecting our group work in the future, so we sat down straight away and confronted the issue head on and the result was incredibly positive.

It is always important to treat problems and group members with a level of professionalism and respect. The only way to improve is to discuss it together as a team. A group assignment should be no different to that of a professional workspace. We are all here to work hard and perform well, so if you see an anchor weighing down your performance, you will naturally try to reel it in. However, it’s the way in which you do this that can be make or break for a group.

Approaching Term 2, I look back at the highs and lows of our teamwork. For the most part they have been positive, but the challenges we faced should also be viewed in a positive light. Our team adapted to these issues and we ended up achieving our aims. At the end of the day, a master’s degree is there to push you beyond your undergraduate skillset. I’m incredibly grateful for this experience as I have learnt a lot about myself and teamworking.

Nicholas McCarthy, MSc in Marketing Strategy and Innovation (2019)