How to Put the 'Fun' in 'High Functioning'

Kristen Rampe
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After my webinar on building a high-functioning team, I received a lot of feedback from participants saying thank-you for the reminder to have fun.

This really caught me off guard! How in the world did we end up so focused on our goals (also a part of building a great team) that we completely let go of the fun part? Now, I know some teams have this nailed: usually the ones featured in hip glossy magazines, with foosball tables on every floor and ball-pit conference rooms. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who work in an average office, or whose company name no one may recognize, let alone be jealous of?

I wish I had an answer on how it slipped away, but rather than dwelling in the past, let's start with today. Here's the deal: Don't lose sight of the importance of fun in building an exceptional team. A team is made up of people, and if the only things those people do is work hard, get more work on their desk, collect a paycheck, and go on their own vacations, your team is destined for mediocrity.

Here are some other ideas from real organizations to get you started:

  • A firm with no real office (but 20 employees) meets for a nice lunch every week.
  • An internal team plays pranks on each other whenever someone is out of the office for a few days or longer.
  • A large firm gives employees a day off each summer to participate in all-day fun with activities such as  horseback riding, kayaking, golf, spa treatments. Each person can choose his or her own itinerary, and they all end at the same place for a late lunch and group activities.
  • A division at a mid-size firm gives out mock-awards to team members highlighting their contributions to the organization beyond typical metrics (e.g., Most Gallons of Coffee Consumed, Most Creative Task Delegated to an Intern, Perfect Attendance at Free Meals).

If you do have some fun-itiatives in your office, give yourself a big pat on the back! Your team has it good, and you are getting benefits from this. Be sure you have enough though: if your idea of checking the "fun" box on your to-do list involves an ill-attended annual picnic, think again.

Try assigning an individual (the "Minister of Fun") or small committee (the "Culture Club") to own the fun side of building a great team. Give them a budget and your genuine, ongoing support, and you'll be on your way to team success.

Lastly, please be sure to pass this article around so I can receive new feedback the next time I run this workshop, knowing that we all have put some more "fun" in high-functioning teams between now and then.

Hear the replay of Building a High-Functioning Team. No time? Check out the Tip Sheet.

About the author:

Kristen Rampe is a CPA who loves helping other CPAs develop great teams and great customers. She provides consulting and customized, in-house CPE to professional service firms in the areas of client service, communication and team building. Check out her blog for great ideas on how to improve your practice!

Related article:

How to Throw a Party—Accounting Style


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