17th August 2023

Stop with the boring offsites!

My 3 interesting things for you this month…

1. Stop with the boring offsites!

Of all the content I’ve put out over the last few years, there is one that stands out as having done better than we ever would have expected (based on Google data). That is: finance team away day ideas.

August is usually a bit quieter, which makes it a great time to plan offsites!

So what makes a good finance team offsite?

My original finance team away day ideas article gives you inspiration on fun stuff, but let’s talk about the trickier question: a team activity that’s both interesting and useful.

My favourites:

1. Run a Strengths Finder Session

This is a great idea for new teams or teams that work remotely. Get to know each other’s strengths and how you can use them as a team. Best part: it’s only £20 / $20 per head, one of the best value team activities out there. Email me for a workbook to run the day (no cost!).

2. Discovery Insights

If you have a bigger budget, do Discovery Insights (think more like £200 per head). Team profiles that show the team’s preference on how each person likes to work. Again, great for understanding ourselves and each other better. (You’ll need a facilitator for this day, which I can do. Let me know if you want to discuss).

3. Finance Hackathon

No budget needed, just ideas and energy! Get the team together to solve some finance problems. Everyone submits ideas, votes on the top 3 and splits into teams to spend a morning, or ideally 1-2 days solving. This comes from the world of software engineering, but translates amazingly well to finance. I have seen incredible results over the years. From fixing broken processes to brand new reporting tools, even standardised PowerPoint templates!!

Have fun!

2. Crowdsource your onboarding

A great ‘team hygiene’ job during the quieter summer months is to improve your onboarding process. This is the job that we all (on average) dislike the most! But it has the highest impact for getting high performing teams up to speed.

The key to this is to spread the work and make it easy – using shared note-taking software such as OneNote or Notion.

You can include things you need to do the day job, but also useful IT and HR tips. Not forgetting things like where to find the stationery and who are great people to meet with!

Here are the simple steps:

  1.  Get together with the team for an hour or so with the purpose of gathering all your best onboarding ideas
  2.  Brainstorm and create shared onboarding document in OneNote and post in Teams
  3.  Team encouraged and recognised to build the habit of small and regular updates
  4.  New starter joins and uses onboarding document
  5.  At 90+ days, new starter reflects on what was missing and updates with what they would have liked
  6.  Review quarterly to ensure the document is up to date

This should reduce the burden of onboarding on any 1 individual, but massively improve the outcomes. Let me know if you want to discuss further.

3. My recommended holiday reads

This is all any newsletters talk about this month but for good reason! We need to take a break, but we still want to do something a bit useful.

Here are the 3 best books I’m recommending to people right now (I appreciate I mention one every month, but this is specifically for holiday reading). I like listening to them on audible.

1. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

This book is simultaneously super interesting and super useful. It’s all about how to negotiate (even if you hate negotiating). Chris mixes up FBI negotiator tales with principles that are easy to apply. My favourite thing: you can use this in your personal life as well as your professional life.

2. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Strategy is REALLY hard to define. I know because I try it all the time on my strategy workshops and it’s not easy!! Richard makes this much easier to do through some simple principles, and excellent case studies. Super interesting read, one that everyone I recommended it to came back and said ‘that was great’.

3. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman.

I was recommended this book last year before I went on holiday. It felt a bit heavier than the above 2 books, but it was worth it! This book makes a great case for shortening your to-do list, slowing down, and focusing. For me, on holiday is the only real time to read this book. It’s too hard to really think through the principles when you’re in the hustle of a normal month.

Let me know how you get on!

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Oliver Deacon

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