Where do most strategies fall short? With people. Getting everyone on the same page and making sure that each individual knows what’s expected of them isn’t easy.
This is what a team charter is for.
A team charter is an ever-evolving document that outlines the goals, challenges, responsibilities, and resources available to each team member and the group as a whole.
Not to be confused with a project charter (which outlines what an initiative is going to achieve), the team charter outlines what each individual and team should achieve and how they can achieve it. It also documents items often mistaken for common knowledge or common sense, for example: ‘how to communicate,’ ‘when and how to escalate an issue,’ and ‘how to navigate a disagreement.’
We say this loud and clear: A team charter is crucial to the success of an initiative. Your strategy won’t be realized unless everyone knows what their role in it is. So it’s worth taking the time upfront to work it out.
If your attention has been grabbed, excellent. Read on for:
- The benefits of a team charter
- What’s in a team charter?
- Instructions on how to create a team charter
- How to use a team charter
- Team charter examples and templates
The benefits of a team charter
A team charter encourages collaboration, driving deeper connections between colleagues and teams.
With clarity around roles and responsibilities, ‘passing the buck’ is difficult. It’s easy to hold individuals and teams accountable, and (equally) it’s easy to give credit where it’s due.
A sense of purpose
A team charter outlines how each contribution is relevant to the wider strategy, helping people feel a sense of purpose and like they are an important part of the journey to success.
The team charter reduces confusion, chaos, and unvoiced assumptions. It keeps your team cohesive, which means a more streamlined route to success.
What’s in a team charter?
A team charter should document the following:
- Purpose: the team’s mission and objectives
- Roles and responsibilities: who does what?
- Budget and resources: what do you have and what do you need?
- Work processes: what steps are necessary for project completion?
- Decision making: what do we do if (blank) happens?
- Communication norms: what are the most efficient and effective ways of keeping everyone informed?
- Rules and conflict resolution: how can you make sure you all play nicely together?
How to create a team charter
Creating an effective team charter is a collaborative process and should include the input of all team members, not just the top team or upper management. So, the first step is to hold a meeting to discuss each of the items that need to be documented. It’s important that these meetings are designed to capture feedback from everyone (careful – that means everyone, not just the loud and proud extroverts). The benefit of this is twofold: people will feel more bought into a plan that they’ve helped to construct, and the plan will be more robust because it was created from diverse perspectives.
Team charters work best when all team members collectively agree to adhere to it and to hold each other accountable.
Once you’ve captured everyone’s input, you’ll need to refine the ideas (perhaps making some strategic decisions on items that the team didn’t completely agree on) and get them down in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-access document.
Finally, make sure that everyone knows how to access the document and that everyone reads it. You could go through it in an all-team meeting, ask managers to put it on people’s to-do lists, or print it out and stick it up all over the office. Whatever will be most effective! Our favorite trick is to ask everyone to sign the document once they’ve read it – it’s a symbolic gesture that they agree with the charter and are bought into following it.
How do I use a team charter to keep my team on track?
Review the document regularly
Don’t leave your charter to get dusty on a digital shelf. Make sure it is something that your team comes back to regularly – like a base camp.
Modify the team charter as needed
Treat it like a living document that can always be changed and improved. It should grow and evolve alongside your team.
Use the team charter to onboard new employees
A document as important as this should become part of your onboarding process. It will
bring new team members up to speed, and force old members to re-engage with the promises that are made in it.
Team charter examples
Every company and team is different, so each team charter will be different. Below we outline the skeleton of a team charter, but it’s up to you to make it fit your specific needs.
Make this a succinct summary of what the team wants to achieve in relation to the overall strategy.
Purpose and Objectives
Springboard off the mission to define particular objectives and goals.
Include the names and job titles or roles of each member of the team. Use this to outline each team member’s responsibilities and how they will contribute to achieving the mission.
Assets and Resources
From budget to assets, use this section to document everything the team will need (and need to know) to do their job successfully.
How will meetings be run? How will you conduct discussions? What is the decision-making process? What happens if you have dissenters or if people disagree on something?
How will your team work toward achieving the goal and mission? How many hours or days should be devoted to certain tasks? Who does each team member report to? What are the deliverables?
What are the best, most appropriate, or most efficient ways for team members to communicate individually and as a whole? How will you resolve conflicts or disagreements? How do you handle unmet expectations?
More team charter templates that we recommend stealing from:
Need Help Getting Started?
You get it. A team charter is crucial to your strategic success. Let one of our experts support you in creating one and following through on it.
Book a call today, and we’ll explore how we can help you build a team that’s working efficiently, collaboratively, and energetically toward your strategic vision.