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What are your favorite team building exercises?

I am in the process of transitioning from my current position of corporate accountant to accounting manager within another area our company. I will initially have four direct reports. I want to ensure the team is strong in their accounting duties, as well as relationally while they are at work. What are some creative team building games that you've seen work? What about some to stay away from?


Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Webinars
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Webinars) |

Stay away from structured, out of a book, and at the office endeavors. Find out what your team does for fun outside the office, and let them bond doing it. I have had great experiences bowling, playing miniature golf, and even with a long fondue type meal. Also, just taking the team out for lunch as a surprise with no warning always scores big points.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Set the tone-not as a drill sergeant or micro manager, but as a human being and team leader. You do all need to work in line with the company vision and strategy, so ask them to articulate what they understand that to be and how they add value to its creation/execution. Get alignment across the team.

Establish/agree on personal values, what to do if someone needs help/makes a mistake, etc. Be fair, equitable, set boundaries, make sure mutual trust is a given.

Then get out the way- a good manager creates an environment where his/her team can really do well and enjoy their work. :)

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

Be open to their daycare and healthcare issues. If they need a little time off to take Johnny to the doctor, let them go. If you are supportive of their needs they will be supportive of yours.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Completely agree. That's one thing about the company that has been very helpful. My supervisor has been excellent about things like that.

Amy Berry
Title: Controller
Company: Guardian Real Estate Services LLC
(Controller, Guardian Real Estate Services LLC) |

I agree with Ernie to get out of the office. That's where people become themselves especially if they are enjoying themselves. One idea is the Escape Room/Game (if there is one near you). It is a great team building event. Everyone has to work together to figure out the clues to "escape" the room... and it's fun! It's only an hour but I guarantee they'll be talking about it for days.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

That's a great idea. There are a few around me in Knoxville. I've heard great things about them from folks I know.

Stewart Linder
Title: Global Controller
Company: AxiomSL
(Global Controller, AxiomSL) |

HI Randy. I totally agree with you. What happens when the person takes the time off, but is not willing to put in extra time when needed?

Jaime Campbell
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Tier One Services, LLC
(Chief Financial Officer, Tier One Services, LLC) |

When I worked in a CPA firm they let the team vote from a list of choices. The list became a shortlist and then everyone conferred again - easy with a relatively small number of people - and then it became a tradition. It happened to be bowling.

Personally, I didn't care for anything recreational, but I understood what they were trying to do and went along with it. I prefer to bond with people over collaborative projects and sommething that adds real value to my life and career, and for me, recreation is just not it.

Like many accountants, I relish what is functional and reject fluff.

So taking the great advice from above coupled with gathering ideas from your team could be a winning combo.

Rosalio Ulloa
Title: President/CEO
Company: ProAmerica Advisors, Inc.-www.ProAmerica..
(President/CEO, ProAmerica Advisors, Inc.-www.ProAmericaAdvisors.c) |

I agree with everyone post, however before you implement any changes, take the time to get to know your team (listen & observe). Since you initially will have four direct reporting team members, I always found that inviting each one individually either for coffee or lunch was a great way to personally get to know them. Then when planning your team building games, make sure to include them in the planning.

As Jaime mentioned, not everyone may care for anything recreational. However if you include your entire team in the planning of the game/outing, they will feel appreciated and part of the team.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

Hi Stewart,

If in return they don't put in the time when needed they either don't advance or they get fired. Flexibility goes a long way but people still need to get the job done.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Even without "exercises", I have found that keeping the workplace atmosphere "light" and at the same time accomplishing goals impacts heavily on team relationships, effectiveness or efficiency.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I've never understood organizations that run on artificial deadlines that aren't prioritized in the first place.

That leads to both constant fire fighting and those not fire fighting running around like chickens without their heads. Both activities are completely unproductive!

Proformative courses by Wayne Spivak:

  • Before You Buy That Accounting, ERP, or CRM System...
  • War Stories - Enterprise System Implementation Wars
  • Business Process Mapping: A Prelude to System & Process GAP Analysis
  • GAP Analysis: A Practical Approach

  • ArLyne Diamond
    Title: Owner - President
    Company: Diamond Associates
    LinkedIn Profile
    (Owner - President, Diamond Associates) |

    Having conducted dozens - if not hundreds of workshops for business/corporate and government employees, I am certain that most hate team building exercised that do not seem relevant to the task at hand. So, fun and cute exercises are enjoyed by those who are happy wasting time, but are resented by those valuing the time the give to the workshop or meeting.

    Thus, team building exercises should be relevant - the questions should have face validity for the participants.

    Sometimes I create a puzzle - with each of the pieces respresenting some aspect of the company - or the problems to be solved. Participants need to put the puzzle together to make a whole - which makes a valuable point about contribution to the bottom line.

    Other times, I have them talk about themselves in ways they haven't done before so people can get to know each other better and thus develop trust.

    In other words - I design my exercises to fit the situation - and to NOT waste time.

    Darryl Delwo, CPA, CMA
    Title: Controller
    Company: Sulvaris Inc
    (Controller, Sulvaris Inc) |

    The one exercise I have found to be enlightening is having a charity/team building event, see below for example.

    Go to a local bike shop and get a number of packaged (boxed) bikes for primary/middle school aged children. Prior to the event (without everyone knowing), open the boxes and exchange some of the hardware between the boxes, so that the individual bikes cannot be completed, without negotiating with other individual(s)/team(s) for their resources/hardware. The only instructions I initially provide is that "all components to complete the assembly of the bikes are included in the boxes". You can make this event substantially harder by separating each group so that they cannot see or hear what the others are doing.

    Individuals come out of this exercise learning (even if they are not mechanically inclined): 1) ability to analytically think; 2) ability to read and understand instructions; 3) response time on recognizing issues; 4) negotiation skills (this usually comes out part way through this event when all team(s) find out that there is hardware missing from their particular box, which is found in a competing teams box); 5) collaboration; and 6) competition. All of these attributes should be key components for your team. By completing this task you can visually determine who struggles, and who can walk through this with relative ease, from which you can create further individual development. Most of all, I look for those that can be leaders.

    Once the event is completed and all bikes are built, we donate them to local charity, which happens to be the Children's Hospital.

    I typically find team building events which are focused on the functional work the team does, usually leads to lower participation levels, vs an event tied to a bigger cause. An event such as the above usually has great response due to their individual competitiveness.


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