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This week my management course begins its exploration into group dynamics--which means group projects. I admit I was dreading the process of forming groups in class. Should I select partners by common topic interests or based on familiarity? I ultimately decided that it would be easiest to connect with students who wanted to research the same topic as I did. However, my preferred topic proved undesirable to every one of my classmates as I was the lone student to raise my hand with interest. When it was clear my plan would not pan out, I opted to work with students based on familiarity via proximity and, fortunately, I ended up in a great trio of ladies.

Negotiating Our Topic Selection
It seemed that everyone in our group had different topic preferences and I, in particular, was the odd woman out. Later I discovered I was partnered with two NFs (an ENFJ and an INFJ) which explains why their top selections were people-oriented topics like "how to manage volunteers" or "how to manage people more experienced in tenure than you" while my top selections included individual/task-oriented topics like "managing your time" or "how to write a job description"...typical INTJ interests. By this point I knew was not going to get to research a topic I wanted so I was going to have to compromise. Because I had read that the INTJ personality type tends to struggle with emotions, I was open to my teammates' preference for "how to improve your team's emotional intelligence" as our research topic. While I don't personally consider myself emotionally unintelligent as an INTJ, I do think that it will be an interesting and valuable learning experience to research the role that emotional intelligence plays in team-building, especially as it pertains to boosting individual performance.

Establishing Group Expectations
Drafting a project plan and establishing group norms was incredibly quick and easy for our team of Js since, as Judgers, we value structured schedules, organization and planning. In fact, our group was the second finished drafting our plan, only minutes behind the first group, and we had accounted for every deadline and detail so thoroughly that our professor had no revisions for us. I have never been required to discuss group norms--let alone to write down the consensually agreed upon terms--in a group project before but I found it to be a useful exercise in clearly defining each member's contribution to the team based on their individual strengths as well as clarifying communication preferences beforehand. Honestly, I think that it should be a cultural norm in the U.S. (at the very least) that every team should be required to discuss group expectations and put them down on paper before progressing to the work at hand. It's certainly a practice I intend to carry on when I re-enter the workforce post graduation.

Overall, I think that our team's individual responsibilities are well suited to our personal strengths. The ENFJ volunteered to be team leader and will be responsible for initiating team meetings and progress check-ins with the group. The INFJ will create a style guide for our report and is responsible for integrating all of our work into one cohesive document. And I, the INTJ, will be responsible for ensuring that our report is formatted properly as well as designing the presentation slides. We will all be involved in the research process, and since we are all skilled editors proofreading will also be a shared responsibility. I'm excited to work with such an amiable team of ladies. I look forward to reporting our research and suggested best practices for improving a team's emotional intelligence in a future post.  

#1 - Individual Differences: Understanding Myself and Others (MBTI Types + Keirsey Temperaments)
#2 - Communicating Verbally with Others
#3 - Hiring and Firing: Difficult Conversations
#4 - Group Dynamics: Establishing Expectations

NEXT TOPIC: #5 - Conflict Resolution and Management Styles