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How To Boost Your Financial Management Team After The Big Financial Year-End

As seen in the Entrepreneur Magazine.

Is your finance team wilting after a grueling financial year end? Here are some great ideas to help them bounce back.

Your finance team has put in long, back-breaking hours lately to ensure your business could close off the financial year. Aside from saying ‘thanks a lot’ here are some great ideas to breathe some fresh life into them, reconnect them with each other and with the business, and let them have some much-needed fun in the process.

Before we start, let’s clear up some misconceptions around team building events. When you think of team building, you probably think of awkwardly passing an orange squeezed between your chin and your neck at school, or awkwardly falling backwards into the arms of an embarrassed colleague at work.

This is why most people shy away at the thought of doing team building, because they fear embarrassment, or even worse, wasting their time. The source of the problem is that most HR departments and management view team building days as an activity-based agenda that will have a productivity-based ROI. Almost like a once-off fix – play games equals 12% increased productivity. However, they are mistaken.

According to the University of California: Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another, and respect one another’s individual differences.

So, we understand now that team building is:

  • A regularly recurring thing, not just a once-off activity
  • A combination of work, leisure, collaboration, problem solving and projects
  • Can be anything from a small picnic at work, to a weekend retreat.

When done well, team building is shown to make employees more co-operative, collaborative and, generally, more engaged in their work. According to Gallup’s findings on employee engagement in America, only 34.1% were engaged – which means a shockingly high percentage (nearly 70%) just couldn’t care less about their work.

While team building has its flaws, it is still one of the best ways to drive employee engagement. With that in mind, here are some great ideas to improve your finance team’s engagement for the remainder of 2019.

1. Accounting game show

Use a popular game show format to share and quizz information in an engaging format.

1. Split the department into teams.
2. Use questions that the team can use in their everyday work. You can even throw in interesting facts about employees (with their permission of course), particularly positive stories about their finance careers or accomplishments.

2. Idea-sharing lunches

Dial it down a notch and take the team out to a restaurant of their choice, or – if you are choosing – to a place that serves good food, for a casual staff lunch.

Use this time as a general catch-up session as well as a platform for creative conversation. You can also use this time to have a SME (subject matter expert) share some insights into relevant topics that will empower the team, but this should not be the sole purpose of what is meant to be a relaxing lunch.

3. Shape it up

In this fun exercise team members need to arrange themselves to form shapes as they are called out.

  1. Divide the team into groups of 10 members.
  2. A game coordinator shouts out a shape (for example, a diamond) and the teams must form the shape quickly within a limited time frame (eg 5 seconds).

Begin with simple shapes get everyone comfortable, then start calling for more complex shapes like “an oval on top of a rectangle” or “square inside a triangle.” Communication and cooperation are vital here to successfully form the shapes.

Ofcourse, the team that forms the shape first wins. The larger the group the more challenging the game is.

4. Guess the word

This tried and trusted game is where team members must guess a word that is pinned on a hat that they are wearing and cannot see, while the other members of the team try to explain it to them without saying the word.

  1. Bring a hat or cap, slips of paper, tape, marker.
  2. Write several mystery words on slips of paper, each word big enough to be read from two meters away.
  3. Split the teams into two.
  4. Start with the first team. One member wears the cap with the word taped onto the front.
  5. The one wearing the cap must guess the word by asking a series of questions within a minute.

The ones who know the word can only answer yes, no or maybe.The one wearing the cap must be able to deduce the word within the allotted time.

The team that gets to answer a mystery word fastest wins. Mystery words can be related to the company’s business, staff or completely random items.

5. Game of possibilities

Laughter, bonding and problem solving are all part of the team building experience. This game is ideal for both.

But first, it’s the rules of this game that make it fun! They are:

  • The person may not speak while making his or her demonstration
  • The person must stand while demonstrating
  • The demonstration must be original

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give a paperclip to groups of 5 to 10 participants.
  2. A person from each group takes turns to demonstrate a novel way to use the paperclip that has nothing to do with its intended purpose.

As you can see, this game can be used with other office items as well, instead of a paperclip (e.g., pen, water bottle, telephone, etc). Hopefully, your team will think up new and unusual uses for everyday objects and translate this experience to creating new ways to solve problems, use resources or motivate a team.

6. Campfire stories

This classic activity inspires storytelling and improves team bonding. Storytelling is at the heart of the community experience, and can get a large group to loosen up and share their experiences, and know each other a little better. Here’s how:

  1. Gather teams of 6 – 20 participants into a circle.
  2. Use a set of trigger words to kickstart a storytelling session, words like “first day”, “work travel”, “partnership”, “side project”, etc. Add these to sticky notes.
  3. Divide a whiteboard into two sections and stick all the sticky notes from above on one side of the whiteboard.
  4. Invite a participant to choose one trigger word from the sticky notes and use it to share an experience. They then stick their sticky note on the other side of the whiteboard.
  5. As the participant is sharing his/her story, ask the others to note words that remind them of similar work-related stories. Add these words to sticky notes and paste them on the whiteboard.
  6. Repeat this process until you have a “wall of words” with interconnected stories.

Always have a clear ‘why’

Whether you take your team away for a retreat, or simply do an on-site breakaway, be sure to have a clear understanding as to why you are doing this, and what goals you want to achieve through these activities. Otherwise you might fall into the ‘doing activities simply for the sake of activities’ trap. Remember, it’s always about making your team feel more connected to each other, and to the business.

You could consider involving some team members in the planning process, and over time, you’ll find which strategies are the best fit with your team. Schedule team-building exercises on a regular basis to maintain a more content and productive team. These activities will become a part of your office culture, and can help to promote retention.