As the saying goes, ‘what’s in a name’?
Well when it comes to creating effective and engaged teams, rather a lot actually! Your team name has an impact on both your team and the teams around you. It: - Creates a first impression
- What function your team fulfills (if you pick a related name)
- Gives your team an identity
- Helps team members to become accountable
- Supports team bonding
- Creates friendly competition
Let’s take a brief look at each of these in turn.
Creating a first impression
First impressions are extremely important in business. What do you want your team name to portray? Experience? Creativity? Reliability? The right, or perhaps more importantly, the wrong name can make or break the first impression that your team makes. It can help to form opinions about the abilities and capabilities before people know anything about you. For example, the team name ‘Young Guns’ could make your team appear youthful, inexperienced and impulsive. Alternatively, ‘Old Hats’ may suggest that your team is mature, but dull and set in their ways. Plenty of thought needs to be given to the very first impression that your team name gives others.
What you do
A great team name can also tell others what function your team fulfills. It is important to remember that teams tend to last longer than tasks and are able to diversify and take on new roles, and so extremely specific team names may not be a great idea. Instead think about any general or key functions that you have, and try and come up with a name around that theme. For example:
If your team is largely focused on firewalls you could suggest names along the theme of fire such as: ‘The Fire Brigade’, ‘Team Inferno’ or ‘Blazing Squad’. If you are part of a trouble-shooting team then names such as ‘Delta Force’, ‘Team Alpha Bravo’ and ‘Special Ops’ help to identify you as a task force that are tactical, strategic problem-solvers.
If your team function is based around innovation then names such as ‘The Imaginators’, ‘Artisans’ and ‘The Think Tank’ will reflect what you do to others around you. Suitability of function-based names isn’t for every team, so if it doesn’t work, don’t force it.
Gives your team an identity
When you first build a team, you are bringing together multiple and sometimes very different individual identities. A successful team needs to learn to let go of their personal identities and instead adopt a single identity of shared values and expectations. This helps the team members to work better with one another, understand what to expect from one another, and feel supported in their tasks. A shared identity will also help to set the vision or direction of the project, ensuring that all team members are engaged and pulling in the same direction.
Helps team members become accountable
True accountability is a choice. It is a person saying that they will make a commitment and do everything in their power to see it through. A team name is proven to help members take ownership of their tasks. They want their team to perform and achieve great things and as such, it becomes far easier for them to make themselves accountable for their own tasks and those of the rest of the team as a whole.
If your business is using Agile working then accountability will be a core value within your teams, and incorporating a team name will solidify the desire of your employees to fulfill their commitments and strive for success.
Supports team bonding
A mix of personalities within your team means that it may not naturally gel. However, for reasons unknown to the human psyche, belonging to a named team somehow makes it more real and more important in our eyes. It pulls people together, instilling a “we” instead of a “me” culture. Team members are more likely to make the effort to get along and find common ground between them.
This means that they are also more inclined to communicate well, share knowledge and feedback, and give one another support in order to reach their collective goal.
Creates friendly competition
There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition in the workplace. Whether it is qualitative, quantitative or time-boxed targets, pitting teams against one another can boost engagement and productivity, provided it is well managed and does not compromise on the quality of the final product. Some organizations choose to incorporate team competition into the social side of their business, rather than let it affect the day to day running. Quiz evenings, karaoke nights and other social activities can also become fun team bonding events.
Naming your team is one sure way of driving a great working culture, boosting engagement and ensuring the long term success of your projects, whatever they may be.