No one likes forced fun, but away days are a great team building opportunity for your finance team. There may be some groans when you suggest a day out, but it’s the perfect chance for you all to escape the office and let your hair down.
I’d always recommend starting the day with something business-related that’s engaging but people will also learn something from. Then in the afternoon, you can move on to a fun out-of-office activity to wind down.
If you’re feeling uninspired or struggling to think of ideas, I’ve done the hard work for you! This article gives you some ideas for morning ‘business-related’ activities and some ideas for fun and accessible activities you can do with your whole team afterwards.
What’s the point of a finance away day?
The purpose of away days is usually to bring people together. Benefits of team bonding activities include improved communication skills, a sense of team spirit and increased productivity. As a finance leader/manager it’s your job to instigate these things!
A few quick tips from me before we dive in. Of course, the first one is to set a budget. The second, establish your activity goals and objectives… Think, what would you like the result of the away day to be? Is it to get your team talking to each other, or lift the team spirit? Whatever it is, communicate it from the beginning.
How to start your away day
Start by giving a short business update on things that have gone well since your last away day/quarter. This is the perfect opportunity to recognise what’s gone well, but also to discuss what could be improved next quarter.
You could then go on to talk about the team’s vision, goals and objectives. Purpose is so important, so this is a good conversation to have to remind everyone exactly why they get up in the morning and keep coming to work!
A ‘pain points and solutions’ activity
Problem solving is an invaluable trait for any person to have, especially in the finance team! This activity will help your team to hone this skill together.
Split people into smaller groups and ask them to think of some pain points within the department or frustrations they have in the day-to-day. Getting everyone’s thoughts about things that could improve is essential, as there might be things you don’t get to see as a manager that are really frustrating your team.
Once each team has a list, get them to come up with solutions to each of their pain points. This encourages people to think outside of the box with more of a growth mindset.
Then, give each team time to present back to the wider group on what they’ve come up with. Finally, a full team discussion is a good way to close the activity. Don’t forget to keep each piece of feedback and report back to your team at the next away day (or before) so they can see you’ve taken their suggestions into account.
Those of you familiar with my blog or my newsletter will know I regularly share recommended resources. One of my favourites that’s great for a team building activity is Don Clifton’s Strengthsfinder.
The Strengthsfinder assessment gives you a tool to uncover and assess the top five strengths that your team have as individuals, and as a whole group. For individuals, it’s a confidence builder and highlights the strengths they can bring to their role. For the wider team, you can talk about how everyone can bring their own strengths together to achieve bigger and better things.
Of course, it’s also helpful from your perspective as a manager, as it shows you where your team excels and where they might need extra training or support.
What’s your personality profile?
Personality profiling has become more popular in recent years because of the understanding it gives people about themselves and each other. And of course the positive knock-on effects this has for working together effectively.
Before the session, get your team to do a personality profile exercise. Platforms such as Insights Discovery (keep an eye out for more from me on this soon!!) are good for this. Ask each person to read through their results before the away day.
On the day, you can run activities that encourage everyone to talk about how they like to work, based on their personality profile. You can cover elements such as preferred communication style, what motivates them and the conditions that they feel they work best in. The possibilities are endless here, so it might help to get an external consultant to run this exercise for you.
Now for the fun follow-up activities
Now, here are 8 awesome ideas for a finance away day afternoon, once the serious business is out of the way!
A scavenger hunt is an opportunity to split your team into smaller groups or pairs and send them out into the world. The benefit of this one is that it will force people to talk to each other who might not normally. Test their puzzle and riddle-solving skills by creating a hunt around your local area. Just make sure you’re giving them a worthy prize!
A painting class can reveal your team’s artistic side – you never know, you might have a hidden Picasso among you! It could be painting a pot, painting on canvas, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, a pottery making or glass blowing class. There are plenty of companies out there that will sort the whole day for you, all you need to do is turn up.
Test out your team’s culinary skills with a cooking class. This is a finance away day treat, and you get to eat what you cook – bonus! During cooking, your team will have plenty of time to make conversation and get to know each other in a non-work context. Plus, cooking has been shown to relieve stress. So, if you’ve had a particularly busy period at work recently, a change of pace may be welcomed.
This is a good activity to do in autumn/winter with your team. It gets you all out in the fresh air (weather permitting), you can learn a bit more about the city you live in and have some fun along the way. The ghost stories you hear will give you some good conversation starters, that’s for sure, so you won’t be short of things to say at dinner afterwards!
Volunteer for a good cause
Giving up your time to help a good cause is excellent for team bonding. Ask if there are any local charities that are important to anyone in your team, and if it’s possible, organise to offer your time to volunteer for them. You could also look at doing things like a litter pick around your local community, plant trees (with the landowners permission!) or take food to a food bank, for example.
An oldie but a goldie, bowling is a classic team social activity. You could split your finance team into groups and may the best team win! This activity is perfect if the weather is being unpredictable, too. Of course, ramps can be used for those who aren’t as confident with bowling!
Go to the beach
There’s nothing quite like breathing in the fresh sea air to blow away the cobwebs! It’s a complete change of scenery from the office, and an even better treat if most of your team don’t live particularly close to a beach or can’t get there normally. There are plenty of fun beach-based activities you could come up with to keep everyone entertained too.
If you’re in the UK, visit a National Trust property
Get cultured and visit a National Trust property! There are so many different National Trust sites all around the UK that offer something different. Do some research on the closest ones to your office and get the team to choose their favourite. You can often book tours around these sites too, which takes the pressure off you having to organise everything yourself.
Build the foundations of a strong team
There are plenty of fun team-building activities that you can do to get the best out of your team. A lot of which I haven’t mentioned in this article! Any of the activities above can help build a firm foundation of trust and communication within your finance team. Remember to keep them as accessible as possible, catering to any accessibility, religious or dietary requirements.
Now I’ve given you some awesome finance away day ideas, go out and show your team a great time!
Interested in developing your finance leadership skills?
If you want to be a better leader tomorrow than you are today, why not get in touch and book a 30-minute discovery call? From here I can help you build a bespoke training programme that works for both you and your team.