Working in a team can be both rewarding and tricky. Ensuring that everyone in the team is working towards a common goal, collaborating and communicating progress, and delivering results is crucial for the team leader. However, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of focusing only on the deliverables and deadlines, forgetting about the people you are working with and managing.
What’s more? In today’s situation, teams are often comprised of people living in different parts of the world as work is done remotely and entire workplaces have shifted online. This means that your team may be working in different time zones, situations, and work environments. So how do you make sure that everyone is on the same page?
Enter the Team Charter. Let us introduce to you this great and often under-used tool for team management.
WHAT IS A TEAM CHARTER?
A team charter is a document that anchors the team on its composition, its purpose, the scope of their work, the timelines & deliverables, the methods, resources available, and the reporting/governance lines for a team. It is usually created using each team member’s inputs and is a reference resource to keep everyone on the same page. It can also be used to orient new hires towards the common goals and targets of the team. By stating clearly the guiding principles of a team, a Team Charter effectively avoids miscommunications, duplications, and confusions within a team.
WHY DO YOU NEED A TEAM CHARTER?
There are several situations in which you may need a team charter. Even if you are a well-established team working together for a while, having a document that exactly articulates the future and expectations of your team members can only be useful.
If you are in a cross-functional team, it is often difficult to keep everyone on the same page and work with the same ideas of prioritization and scope. Having a charter that states the team’s objectives keeps everyone in a cross-functional team on track, for example, the marketing, development, research, and administrative arms of the team.
CREATING AN EFFECTIVE TEAM CHARTER
Creating an effective Team Charter requires three main components –
To create a charter that highlights the above three components, here is a step-by-step breakdown of the process of creating a successful team charter.
Step 1: Team Background And Composition
The first step of any good team charter will be mapping out the context of that team. This means identifying team members as well as the team leader. This can be modified per the team’s structure, which can differ if it’s a cross-functional team. Once the team has been clearly identified, it’s important to clarify each member’s position and contributions to the team. These include their skills, specializations, past work, and expectations from the team and the organization. This is integral to the workings of a well-managed team as it considers the skills and expectations of each team member. This also includes explicitly stating the strengths and assets of the team.
To compensate for the team’s weaknesses, the charter should lay out what resources and extended team members might be available so the team as a whole is fully equipped to achieve its objectives.
Step 2: Team Purpose And Outcomes
Step 2 is to clarify the purpose of the team. This can be called the ‘Team Mission’ for more inspiration to help define the team’s vision and objectives. This is also the main guiding light for the entire team, as this is what each member needs to work towards. It is also in line with stakeholder’s and client expectations. Having a clear but succinct purpose statement can help team members work together for a common goal and eliminate some potential confusion that can occur with miscommunication of targets and end goals.
In this light, the team leader should make the purpose and outcomes as explicit as possible by adding measurability and timeframes. Here is where a team manager needs to decide, after discussing with the team, the deadlines and milestones they are setting for the team. This helps the team have milestones to work towards and get a sense of progress.
In this step, the team lead should also delineate what the team will and will not do, i.e., define the scope of the team activities.
Step 3: Team Norms, Governance, And Reporting
Finally, this step is used to answer a very significant question pertinent to team management – “How will this teamwork?”. This is where clear and carefully planned operational norms are decided upon. So, plan out your team’s functioning and ensure that each team member understands the processes that the team will follow for a project.
This includes mechanisms to communicate progress, steer through hurdles, and review milestones or course corrections. The frequency, formats, and participation of meetings are decided in this step. Team members agree on the methodology they would follow, e.g., Agile, Waterfall, Kanban, etc., and the technology they would use: e.g., JIRA, MS Teams channels. In this step, team members agree on the cultural norms they would follow, e.g., responsiveness commitments, conflict resolution approaches, etc.
Making a Team Charter from scratch is not as easy as it may sound. Of course, following the steps provided above will give you a basic understanding of what goes into a Team Charter. However, an easier and far more effective way to make a Team Charter is to use a template created specifically for Team Charters. SlideUpLift provides you with expertly built and visually engaging Team Charter templates that allow you to create your charter without having to start from scratch. Check out their Team Charter templates from their extensive collection of business-ready presentation templates for all your professional needs!
TEMPLATES FOR TEAM CHARTER
Source: Team Charter Template by SlideUpLift
Source: Charter Example for Teams by SlideUpLift
Source: Project Team Charter by SlideUpLift