I love teamwork, don’t you? Well, perhaps not so much.
If you have ever had a …shall we call the person a “Non-productive Member,” then you are probably thinking I have rocks in my brain right about now.
Bad teams, good teams: Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and worn the hat.
Some of my students have a project due tomorrow. Some of the team members have not yet done their part for the assignment. What’s a good group to do?
First the don’t list: Don’t wait until the last minute to complete the project yourselves. Set the due date for members to have their parts ready to add into the team paper several days before the instructor wants the project. That way, you will know ahead of time if you have to “fire” the no-load and do that part of the paper yourselves.
Don’t be afraid to tell the instructor if someone is a goof-off. Do not wait until the last minute to tell her (or him). If you wait until the Lazy Loader has his or her name on the paper and you turn it in, then I have to give the person who did nothing a grade as if he or she did something. That’s not fair to you and it gives the person the idea (apparently correctly) that he or she can goof off and get an A.
Do not feel sorry for a sob story. Yes, things happen and they are sometimes pretty sorry-sounding. If I, as an instructor, have heard that the person has had a death in the family followed by a flooded basement followed by a spouse losing his or her job followed by a broken leg, root canal problems, and a herniated disk, then I will have pity and ask you to do the same. If someone has a hang nail, then the pity party is over.
Now the Do list: Do keep your instructor in the loop. I cannot help if I do not know what is going on. Allow me to qualify that statement: Do not email the professor, demanding the person be dumped off the team just because he or she has not answered the 27 emails you have sent him or her in the last fifteen minutes. Do not fire the person without a reasonable time for that person to become active.
What is a “reasonable time?” If your project has a due date in four weeks, then one and a half weeks in without any action from the Lazy Loader means that we might have a problem. Two weeks in, and you definitely have cause for concern. It’s time to email the professor. I will send an email and, if there is no reply, I will move the person to a team where he or she will have to complete the project alone.
Teamwork can be very rewarding, I have known teams that became the best of friends, purposely taking future classes together in the hopes that they could work together again. Teamwork can be a dream, with the right people. With the wrong folks co-joined at the hip, it can be a nightmare.