A Team Charter is necessary to ensure that every member of the team is on the same page and that you do not have team members pulling in different directions. Team members need direction to prevent them from focussing on the wrong objectives or failing to use important resources. The Team Charter will also help minimize infighting.
The Team Charter defines the purpose of the team, how it will work and what is its expected outcomes. Ideally, it should be drawn up at the time the team is formed but is also useful to help a team that is in trouble to refocus on its objectives. The time taken to draw up a team charter will be repaid many times as the project progresses.
The team charter should include the following elements:
The Context of The Team Charter
This will basically serve as the introduction to the Team Charter. The section covers questions such as:
- Why the team was found?
- What problems are the team trying to solve?
- How does this problem fit into the broader objective of the organization?
- What are the consequences if this problem remains unsolved?
The Mission and Objectives of The Team Charter
This section forms the heart of the Team Charter. Here you will be defining the mission so that the team knows what it is to achieve. Without a clear mission for the team, individuals in the team often pursue their own agendas. The next step is to turn the mission into measurable goals and objectives. It is important that each objective can be measured so that success can be monitored.
Team Composition and Roles
Here the team looks at the mission and decide who is needed to accomplish which goals. A decision is made as to what each person will do to support the team in its mission. Team members are matched to roles and any gaps in skills are identified. Each team member is listed with their roles and responsibilities.
Authority and Empowerment of Team Members
With the roles of the team members defined, it is time to look at what each team member can or cannot do to achieve the mission of the team. In this section the following questions are answered:
- How much time each member can allocate to team mission and what priority does it have over other activities?
- How team members are to resolve any conflict between other duties and the team mission?
- What budget is available in terms of time and money?
- Can the team recruit new members?
- What the team members can do, what can it not do, and what does it need prior approval to do.
The Available Resources and Support
In this section you list the resources available to the team to accomplish its goals. The list of resources should include budget, time, equipment and people. Any changes to the required resources should be monitored regularly. It also details the training and coaching support available to the team.
Operations Section of The Team Charter
This covers how the team will operate on a day-to-day basis. It can be as detailed or minimalist as the situation warrants. For a long duration team it is likely to be more comprehensive than for a team with a short life.
Negotiation and Agreement
A good Team Charter is usually one that emerges naturally through a process of negotiation. The team’s objectives, composition, roles, boundaries and resources ideally emerge through negotiation between sponsor, team leader, team and other stakeholders.
The final element of the Team Charter is the approval section where team members sign off on the Charter and commit to the principles, roles, responsibilities detailed. This final act communicates commitment and creates accountability.