Icebreakers That Really Work! 


    In today’s ever-changing industry, CPAs must develop and implement people skills, and prove they can work well and get along with others. Spending a lot of time interacting with a computer screen has hit the back burner. Instead, firms and companies expect their employees to work in teams toward a common goal.

    For the gregarious, outgoing CPA, working in teams is great, but what if you’re more reserved or shy?

    One way to ease the tension and change the mood is to implement an icebreaker. On the surface, an icebreaker may seem one dimensional, but put into action, it can transform your motivation and lead to an insight into the lives of those you’re working with on your team or in your department. On top of that, an icebreaker will make people more comfortable, and more willing to be creative, come up with ideas and solutions, and share their visions.

    Icebreakers are great to use at work or just about anywhere else when you have to work with people you don’t know very well.

    True of False. This is an old game, but fun and eye-opening. Have each person come up with three things about themselves. Two have to be true and one is false. The people in your group guess which one is false, and the correct guesser goes next. You’ll be amazed with some of the fun facts that are revealed!

    I’ve Never Done. A similar and sometimes more revealing game can be found in this gem. Going around in a circle, each participant says something he or she has never done. If a person has done something that is mentioned, that person must give the speaker a piece of candy.

    Standing Poker. This is a more offbeat and modern icebreaker. It may take 10 or 15 minutes, but can really get the production vibes going. The way it works is that you have one or more decks of cards ready, handing each person when entering the room. The assignment is to team up with other people in the room to make the best poker hand. Give the winner a small prize.

    Guess the Person. If you like game shows and enjoy a good laugh, this is the icebreaker for you. In groups, team members have to “guess the person.” There are three rounds of clues. The first is based on a description, the second is uttering a single word, and for the third round, you must act out the person without speaking. Add up the scores at the end to see who is victorious. It may take some time, but it’s well worth it!

    Desert Island. The last icebreaker takes you off the grid for a year. In this time, you have been exiled to a deserted island, and are only allowed the essentials and three other things. The specifics of those three things can be a range of choices or topics, but in this case, let’s say that they have to include one piece of music, one book and one luxury item you can carry with you (not a boat). Allow several minutes for everyone to come up with their selections and then have them share them with the rest of the group.

    Create Your Own Fun
    While icebreakers are a great way to bring people together, they must be performed with a greater goal in mind. Generally use one and go for 20 to 30 minutes, tops. This will wrap it up during a time everyone is hopefully still enjoying it and allow you to transition to the real reason you met.

    Another integral part is to be enthusiastic and open minded. This isn’t the time to get bogged down in stressing about work; instead, you’re getting to know your colleagues and staff. In doing so, you will find that these activities will make you better communicators, develop better relationships, and most importantly, help make you better team members.

    What is your favorite icebreaker and why is it effective? Email your comments to youngcpanetwork@aicpa.org.




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