MBA revolves around PPTs, Group projects, group assignments, etc. A large chunk of the marks one receives depends upon the group that s/he works with. If all the members in a group contribute to the best of their abilities, the results will definitely come out well. However, this is not the case with most groups.
The effectiveness of a group depends upon the type of group members and their typical behaviours. In my experience, all the group members can be classified into one of the following types:
- The one man/woman army
These are the ones who carry the group by themselves. Their group is as strong as this particular person. S/he is so good at their own work that they do not leave their grades in the hands of others. They take it all up themselves and finish the task before anyone even realizes it. The other group members are lucky if they have such an anchor in their group. Such people are in demand whenever a new group needs to be formed for any subject.
- The ‘Egalitarians’
These are the ones who believe that everybody should do an equal amount of work. If someone asks them to do a little more work than their assigned quota, it disturbs them. Soon, you can find them venting about the other person whose quota they had to cover for.
These people have the skills required to do the job, and can be a good fit in a team.
- The support staff
After the above two groups of hard workers, comes this set of people who give their full support to the project. They literally just ‘support’ the group, they don’t do any work. At max, they will make the cover page or the index page. It would be suicidal to ask them to do any work. A one-page report may end up in just 150-200 words. The group scores low in the component and only realises the damage after the grades are out.
The best part about this bunch of people is that they will be present for all the group meetings and discussions. They may contribute to idea generation or solving the case, but will be nowhere to be seen while doing the donkey work of making the report or writing things down.
- Free Riders
Every group has a free rider. These are the ones who do not even have an idea if there is a submission at the end of the day. Sometimes, they do not even know their group members till the end of the term.
At XLRI, these people are collectively known as FRAX (Free Riders Association at XLRI). These people can be easily identified on campus. These are the ones who can be seen in college canteen or other eateries on campus between 8 pm and 11:59:59 pm, when the rest of the group members are doing the group activity.
This set of people are sharp and clever. Whenever a new group is to be formed, they know who to target and form a group with. Generally, they target people who they know will get the job done at the end of the day, without minimum interference by themselves.
There is a subset of this group of people also. These are the ones who free ride under your nose. They make you do all the hard work, while looming around in your room, watching something or the other on their phone. They are very much present in the group, but do nothing. They know how to free ride without being called a free rider.
My biggest learning at b-school has been learning to deal with different kinds of people. At the end of the day, work needs to be done and will get done somehow or the other. But handling and managing different team members is an experience and may be helpful in the long run.