Most of the projects that I encountered during my masters are group work, which makes sense because obviously, the intentions are to familiarise students with team working as in real business settings. Reflecting on that, I would like to share a bit of my group-projects experience and insights that I got from the Organisational Psychology lecture on Teamwork as one of the courses of MSc Management.
On the majority of the projects, we are usually allowed to choose our own team members. It is kind of helpful if you form a team with people with one goal or mission that you can get along with to get things done. Based on the lecture, there are two types of teams: real and pseudo. Real team members able to work closely towards shared objective and communicate effectively while in a pseudo team, goals are usually unclear and effective interdependent work is hard to be done. Undeniably, effective communication and solid teamwork effort play significant importance on the outcome, especially in a group project.
Nonetheless, team members with shared goals are not necessarily people who are very similar to you. In fact, research done by Bowers et al. (2000) suggests diversity brings a positive contribution for complex group-assignments since the different perspectives between members induce creativity and widen knowledge. Having a balanced mix between both genders in a team also proven to bring positive impacts in team well-being and performances (Wegge et at., 2008). Due to that, it is a good idea to diversify your circles, join a different group of people in different assignments and try to get along with everyone.
In team working, sometimes conflict is a thing that cannot be avoided. However, as research suggests (Jehn, 1995; De Dreu & Weingart, 2003) conflict does not always bring negative effect. In fact, task-conflict without relationship-conflict can increase performance as it may generate innovation. Thus, when conflict arises between team members, everyone is encouraged not to take it personally and keep the focus on solving the problems rather than attacking individuals.
To wrap up, I personally think that all the group projects that I have done so far give a significant contribution to my soft-skill development in team working. By learning to have a shared goal and work on that together in a highly diversified team-member whilst learning to face conflicts objectively, I am sure that all MSc Management students are well prepared for their future careers not just as individuals but also as a solid team.