micromanaging is not managing

I’ve never really understood group projects.

For me, school group projects always end up falling into 3 groups:

  1. I end up doing most of the work myself
  2. I end up redoing most of the work that’s been done by others
  3. I stay hands off and end up disappointed in some parts of the project.

I think my reasons for these are straightforward:

  1. I don’t always feel my teammates have the same end goals for the project as I do - I’ll spend extra time to push closer to 100% rather than being okay with than just completed, like proof-reading or re-structuring code
  2. I’m not always okay with the end product of the project, so I’ll spend extra time to review and rewrite everything like a perfectionist would
  3. I try to avoid being like 1) and 2) by being more isolated, but I often end up being disappointed by the product.

I don’t think that’s how group projects should work, and I’m caught between whether it’s my must-do-everything-100% attitude, or an inability to work in a group.

I think the point of group projects is the idea that all members should have their own stake in the success of the project, and all members should be able to trust that each member will try to make the best decision available to them. That’s a very idealistic scenario because for school work and often times in real life, your team may not share the same goals or skills, which makes it more awkward to work together, and that’s where I keep hitting a wall.

I really admire the people who have to patience to continue working together even when they notice a lot of things wrong. For me at least, it feels a lot easier to just take over and do it myself, which helps the project, but hurts the group dynamic. And worse off, I know it’s wrong because as I understand logically that working in groups should be more effective than working alone. Two people should be able to get twice the work done as one, but if one is always hanging over the other, then that ideal isn’t achieved. It’s difficult.

I guess it feels easier to take over someone else’s responsibilities because it feels safer. And then, it just boils down to control. Being in control of everything makes you feel safe. While letting people make their own choices means you take a risk and give up some control. Sometimes that leads to poor results and wasted effort, but sometimes you end up with something even better than you could have done by yourself.

It’s that dynamic of taking and giving up control that makes group projects so stressful for me, and I feel like it’s super important to think about every time I’m working in a group. We should strive to not only make ourselves better, but the people around us at the same time as well.


Contact me at lai.victor.vl@gmail.com.