Learning to Love Working in Groups

If I had to describe myself, “independent”, would be one of the first words I would choose. Group work has always been hard. I value efficiency. I go to bed early (9pm, anyone?), but I’m ready to go at 5am; this is in contrast to the majority of my peers, who are night owls. I’m highly introverted and am exhausted at the end of a full day of pair-programming, no matter how well it went. My workflow relies on a rapid and iterative feedback loop — if something doesn’t work, I try something else and add to what I know about the problem, where others stop and think for minutes at a time before trying the next thing. One approach is not inherently better than another, but my effectiveness is measurably higher with one than the other.

Predictably, I struggled with the group projects during module 1. The workload never felt even, I was more exhausted at the end of the day than I ever was when working independently, I found myself carrying the stress of my partners as well as my own.

Things began to shift during module 2. It was a combination of factors. We all got better at having DTR (define the relationship) conversations from the outset, in which we more honestly communicated our needs — from our pairing preferences to our technical strengths and weaknesses to, just as importantly, our sleep schedules. The projects grew, which actually helped more than it hurt — it meant we often paired but there were also pieces that we could each work on independently and then bring back together, whereas during M1, each piece had been so dependent on the last, that there was no room for a “divide and conquer” approach.

And somewhere along the way, I began to enjoy it. I had thought partners, people I could bounce ideas or bugs off of. I was able to fill in some of the technical gaps my partner’s had, and they were able to fill mine. They were able to call me out when I was pushing too hard and not leaving enough time to play, and I was able to call them out when we lost focus for too long. We were creating products that were better than any of us could have produced independently. I was having fun.

Moving into module 3 next week, knowing we’re kicking it off with a two week group project, I find I’m looking forward to it. This is group work as it should be.

Senior Software Engineer | www.adriennedomingus.com

Senior Software Engineer | www.adriennedomingus.com