Have you ever been part of a team in your workplace that lacked a clear direction? Was it frustrating? So what is a team charter?
A team charter is a written document that clarifies the exact purpose of the team. it establishes roles and rules of engagement. It also identifies a goal (or set of goals) to achieve a specific outcome within a timeframe. It is a blueprint that literally keeps everyone on the same page.
With a team charter, you can eliminate many frustrations associated with complex team projects.
HOW TO CREATE A TEAM CHARTER
Here is a guide to creating an effective team charter:
1. GATHER YOUR TEAM TO KICK OFF THE PROJECT AND ESTABLISH THE TEAM CHARTER
As a team leader, the first action in creating a team charter is to schedule a team meeting to kick off the project. In the initial meeting, each member of the group should introduce themselves. Describe their position with the organization and anticipated contribution to the project. If members don’t know each other, do an icebreaker. Or, team-building activity to help members become acquainted with each other. This facilitates a positive group dynamic.
2. CLARIFY THE PURPOSE OF THE TEAM
It is important to clearly articulate the purpose of the team. Why is this team important? What exactly is the desired outcome? For example, is your team launching a new product? Are you updating your company’s website? Are you implementing a new policy or procedure? By clearly stating the purpose of the team, you will get group buy-in and support.
3. MAKE SURE TEAM MEMBERS ARE CLEAR ON THEIR SPECIFIC TASKS
Clarify tasks and procedures. Each team member should have a clear task. They should understand exactly what is expected of them. Some roles may be interdependent on others. Identify individuals that will be working together. What are the deliverables? Incorporate this into the team charter. It will help you avoid headaches and confusion down the road.
4. ESTABLISH THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Establishing the rules of engagement for your team will boost efficiency and effectiveness. This will help your team work together. Besides, keep everyone focused on their tasks and anticipated outcomes. Also, some of the items to address include meeting logistics (when the group will meet and how long). The process for resolving conflicts and when to provide status updates. And, how to prioritize tasks.
An important part of your team’s rules of engagement is communication. What needs to be communicated? When? To whom? How will feedback be collected? How often will check-ins take place? Who needs to receive status updates? Answering these questions will keep the project running smoothly.
5. IDENTIFY A DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
The confusion arises when individuals do not understand the decision-making process. All team members need to understand their authority to make decisions on behalf of the group. Which decisions need a manager to sign off? Which decisions can be reached via email versus in-person? Establish boundaries.
6. IDENTIFY RESOURCES NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT
Think about the resources that need undertaking to complete the project. This includes financial resources and human resources. Where will the money come from? What is the budget? Who approves spending? Who is involved, and how much time will it take?
7. AGREE ON A TIMETABLE
Every project needs a clear beginning and end. Large projects may be broken into phases. What is the timetable for completion for each phase or milestone of the project? Make sure everyone knows who handles each step towards the group’s objectives.
8. ESTABLISH ACCOUNTABILITY
Define roles and responsibilities. By assigning tasks comes the need to establish accountability. To whom is the team accountable? Who needs to be notified if plans go awry? Everyone on the team needs to be aware. Not only of their individual responsibilities but also of the lines of authority. What goals can be verified as the project progresses?
9. WRITE DOWN AND DISSEMINATE THE TEAM CHARTER
A team charter needs to be written down. All of the elements above should be part of the document. Share your initial draft with your team and ask for their feedback. Once everyone on the team has had a chance to review. And also provide input, disseminate the charter to all stakeholders.
10. UPDATE THE TEAM CHARTER AS NEEDED
An effective team charter is a living document. When unforeseen events occur, go back and edit the team charter as needed. Keep it up to date and communicate. Be explicit about the reporting lines of authority, roles, and responsibilities. Also, the timeline for completion.
As a team leader, part of your job is to keep your team motivated and on track. A team charter is an important tool that will enable you to get group buy-in and increase engagement. It fosters shared leadership, and minimize confusion.