GGGOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL! The FIFA World Cup is underway, and whether you’re a soccer fan or not, it’s hard to deny the excitement brought on by watching a match. The way players interact with one another, the common goal they’re trying to reach, and the energy of the fans are all major reasons why the sport is enjoyed by billions of people around the world.
Although finance and accounting work isn’t something the public is watching intently like a professional soccer match, there are several lessons from the sports world that can be learned and applied to the building of a strong, confident, and winning finance and accounting team.
It’s About the Whole Team, Not Just the Star Players
Successful soccer teams are built on the understanding that, while there may be more popular or more highly skilled team members, it’s important to focus on how the team works as a whole. Working with the strengths of each player helps determine where on the field they should be and what position will best suit them.
This can easily be applied to the finance and accounting world. Having a diverse team that offers a variety of strengths is an asset, and being able to leverage these different strengths to complete various tasks and reach certain goals will serve the company much better than simply focusing on one or two people who are considered stronger team members.
When everyone is given an equal opportunity to shine, it creates a more supportive, team-like atmosphere.
On the pitch, putting all of the effort into training and developing one or two star players could backfire if they all of a sudden are injured or are unable to play. Coaches are then left with a team that perhaps hasn’t been given the same attention as the star players, and the result could likely be a team that simply doesn’t know how to work together well.
This is a scenario that could very easily occur in any finance and accounting team that hasn’t been fully developed. If one or two finance and accounting team members are considered more important and have had the majority of development opportunities, should they choose to leave or have to take time off for personal reasons, the rest of the team might not have the tools necessary to pick up the slack.
Focusing on all team members equally, and taking advantage of their diverse needs and skills, ensures you have a more flexible team that can work as one, even if one or two members are missing or aren’t performing their best.
Read: Hungry for more sports examples? Check out “How to Build a Finance Dream Team” for some comparisons between an NHL hockey team and a finance and accounting team.
Practice Makes Perfect
This well-known phrase speaks to all kinds of teams, and can benefit soccer teams and finance teams alike. Individual team members need to practice their skills to ensure they’re sharp, but it’s also important for teams to practice working together. Building communication skills, expanding knowledge of programs and processes, and learning how to deal with both losses and wins are just some of the things teams must learn to do together.
Practice requires discipline. Just as soccer players must commit to a training regimen, finance and accounting team members must be willing to do what it takes to reach the team’s goals. That could mean carrying out certain tasks over and over until the results are where they need to be, or working to establish processes and procedures that will increase efficiency, for example.
Adaptability is also an important aspect of practicing. A soccer team might practice certain strategies consistently and know them perfectly off of the pitch, but once they’re really in the game, what happens when the strategies don’t work as planned? In the finance world, when a team thinks it’s solidified a process or timeline, and then something goes awry, it means everyone needs to go back to step one and identify a new plan of attack.
Read: “5 Factors That Separate Great Teams From Good Ones” to learn what else you can do to make your team shine.
Everyone Needs to be Accountable
Pointing fingers when facing a loss doesn’t help to solve anything, whether you’re a soccer team or a group of finance and accounting professionals. Instead, banding together and coming up with solutions to problems will help the team move forward and hopefully succeed the next time around.
When everyone on a team accepts that they are all equally responsible for the team’s successes and failures, it means that when one team member falters, their teammates will be there to help them back up. Members of successful teams rely on each other, and also understand that they must be willing to reciprocate the respect and support offered by their teammates.
Part of feeling accountable to a team is being committed to the overall goal or vision. Soccer teams want to win games and go on to win entire championships. Finance and accounting teams want to work effectively and efficiently, meet deadlines, and reach targets that have been set out for them.
Read: “Tips from Toronto Recruiters – Being a Team Player” for more insight on what characteristics help members contribute best to teams.
Communication Drives Success
Out on the pitch, soccer players need to know what their teammates are doing. No one can read minds, so communicating clearly is important when working towards a shared goal. Having open communication lines and learning how best to communicate with one another allows for mutual understanding and prevents any surprises that could cost a team their win.
In a finance and accounting office, communication is essential to ensuring mistakes are avoided and that everyone is doing their part to reach the team’s goals. Members of successful finance and accounting teams understand that following up with others is part of good communication practices rather than a micro-management issue, and that keeping each other informed is crucial to keeping projects on track.
- Each team member has something to bring to the table.
- Avoid focusing on one or two team members only, at the detriment of others.
- Team members should be willing to fill in for one another.
- Take advantage of each team member’s unique skills.
- Teams need to practice constantly to be their best and learn from mistakes.
- An adaptable team uses what they learn from losses to earn future wins.
- Everyone on a team must be held accountable for successes and failures.
- Commitment to a common goal helps team members feel accountable.
- Communication is important in avoiding mistakes and knowing what to do next.
- Successful teams strive to communicate as much as possible.
- Team members must learn how best to communicate with one another.
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