Team charters provide roadmaps for teamwork

The folks over at MindTools have a clear, concise explanation of how and when to use Team Charters.

Team Charters are documents that define the purpose of the team, how it will work, and what the expected outcomes are. They are “roadmaps” that the team and its sponsors create at the beginning of the journey to make sure that all involved are clear about where they’re heading, and to give direction when times get tough.

roadmap.jpg To create this road map, the article recommends adapting six elements to your team’s situation.

  1. Context
  2. Mission and Objectives
  3. Composition and Roles
  4. Authority and Boundaries
  5. Resources and Support
  6. Operations
  7. Negotiation and Agreement

These are pretty basic elements that will affect most teams no matter the objectives. Depending on the size of the team and the project, Team Charters can be fairly formal, or as simple as a meeting minutes. The key is to openly discuss and come to mutual agreements in advance about how the team will function.

By negotiating a Team Charter at the outset of a project, you set up team projects for success. You ensure that everyone understands why the project needs to be carried out, knows what the objectives and measures of success are, and knows who is doing what, with what resources.

More than this, by negotiating the Charter assertively, all parties can shape the project so that it stands a good chance of success, and commit wholeheartedly to the project’s success.

Commitment rises exponentially when all team members have a voice in team operations. More experienced members often help head-off problems that their previous teams have faced. Newer members often have fresh ideas that help invigorate the whole team.

Have you used something like a team charter before? I’d like to hear about it.

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