Team Charters are the Waze for Work Teams

I admit it, I can’t live without Waze. For those who might not have heard, Waze is a crowdsourced GPS mobile app that gives turn-by-turn directions, traffic warnings, and road hazard sightings that are posted by fellow drivers. Even if I am taking the same daily commute I still use Waze to ensure I am not stepping into a route that I should avoid.

I believe that Team Charters are the Waze for work teams. Without a Team Charter, your team will likely be:

  1. Fuzzy about the purpose and goals of the team.
  2. Unclear about what is in/out of scope.
  3. Confused about roles and responsibilities.
  4. Not sure how the team makes decisions.

In other words, where you are going and how you are going to get there (just like Waze!). Bottom-line, all teams need a Team Charter. Your charter describes why the team was formed, what the team is responsible for and how it will work together.

Taking the time to develop a charter will create clarity and save lots of frustration later. Now, it doesn’t have to be a 100 page volume that no one looks at. In fact, the more to-the-point it is the better.

Below are common things to include in your Team Charter:

  1. Team Purpose: A statement describing the overarching reason that the team was created.
  2. Team Goals/Objectives: High-level measurable goals the team is formed to meet.
  3. Team Members and their Roles: Who serves on the team and what role each person plays on the team.
  4. Sponsor(s)/Stakeholder(s): The person(s) to whom this team is accountable.
  5. Activities/Responsibilities In and/or Out of Scope: Clear description of what this team should be focused on and anything that is out of bounds.
  6. Decision Making Guidelines: How the team will make decisions. (i.e., consensus, super-majority, or the leader decides)
  7. Ground Rules/Team Norms: The guidelines describing the behavioral expectations of the team.

Other items you might include in your Team Charter:

  1. Duration: The length of time the team will exist, which may be an actual date or may be about satisfying the purpose.
  2. Conflict Resolution Process: The process by which conflicts and disputes be resolved.
  3. Workload distribution: Process by which work will be assigned and allocated among the team.
  4. Communications Process: The means and the frequency in which the team will communicate.

Typically, the why and what questions are pre-determined by the Sponsor. This includes the purpose, goals, boundaries and the Team Members. Then, the team works together to determine how they will work together to accomplish the purpose and goals. At the first team meeting, the team will determine their team norms, how often and in what ways they prefer to communicate, etc.

A good Team Charter will usually fit onto 1-2 pages. It provides a short, yet descriptive overview that aligns, guides and creates clarity for the team.

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Comments 1

  1. I think this is a great idea – project charters exist to ensure all the stakeholders are aligned with the purpose of the project and to determine how they will interact, communicate and work together. Also to help them to measure success, and assess risks and weaknesses. Applying the concept to a team, whether a permanent or temporary one could really reap benefits.

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