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Team Charters

Getting Your Teams Off to a Great Start
Does your team know where it's going or how it's going to get there?
Working in teams can be fantastic – if team members work well together.
However, if people are pulling in different directions, the experience can
be awful. What's worse is that without sufficient direction, teams can
focus on the wrong objectives, can fail to use important resources, can
be torn apart with avoidable infighting, and can fail, with sometimes dire
consequences for the organization.
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.
For teams to get off "on the right foot", Team Charters should be drawn
up when the team is formed. This helps to make sure that everyone is
focused on the right things from the start. However, drawing up a team
charter can also be useful if a team is in trouble and people need to
regain their view of the "big picture".
The precise format of team charters varies from situation to situation and
from team to team. And while the actual charter can take on many forms,
much of the value of the Charter comes from thinking through and
agreeing the various elements.
At the start of a project, all is momentum and excitement, and people are
eager to start work right away. This is where it's tempting to charge in to
productive work. However, "failing to plan is planning to fail", as is failing
to set objectives clearly. Time taken agreeing a team charter will be
repaid many times over as the project progresses.

In particular, it will speed the process of forming, storming, norming
and performing , meaning that the team becomes effective much more
The precise format of team charters varies from situation to situation and
from team to team. And while the actual charter can take on many forms,
much of the value of the Charter comes from thinking through and
agreeing the various elements.
Adapt the following 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.
This is the introduction to the charter. It sets out why the team was
formed, the problem it's trying to solve, how this problem fits in with the
broader objectives of the organization, and the consequences of the
problem going unchecked.
 What problem is being addressed?
 What result or delivery is expected?
 Why is this important?
Mission and Objectives

This section is at the heart of the Charter. By defining a mission, the
team knows what it has to achieve. Without a clear mission, individuals
can too easily pursue their own agendas independently of, and
sometimes irrespective of, the overarching goal.

The next stage is to take the mission, and turn it into measurable goals
and objectives. These are the critical targets and milestones that will
keep the team on track
When writing goals and objectives, consider using the SMART
framework (SMART usually stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable,
Relevant, and Time-bound). The key here is to make sure each objective
can be measured, so that success can be monitored.
Composition and Roles
Teams are most effective when:
 They have members with the skills and experience needed to do
the job.
 Team members can bring experience and approaches from a
range of different backgrounds.
 They have enough people to do the job, but not so many that
people get bogged down in communication (7 is an ideal number
of people).
 They have representation from involved functions, departments,
units, or other relevant category of stakeholder (possibly including
the team's client, and senior management.)
Look to your mission and objectives to determine who is needed on the
team to make sure its goals can be accomplished.

Once you know who should be on the team, you need to look at what
each person will do to support the team in its mission. While this may
seem like overkill at the very beginning of team formation, it will help you
 Match team members to roles.
 Spot gaps in skills and abilities that are necessary for the team to
reach its goals.

The best way to go about this is to list each team member and define the
roles and responsibilities of each.
 Who will be the team leader?
 Who is the liaison between the team and the other stakeholders?
 Who is responsible for what duties and outcomes?

Authority and Empowerment
With the roles defined, you now need to look at what team members can
and can't do to achieve the mission:
 How much time should team members allocate to the team
mission, and what priority do team activities have relative to other
ongoing activities?
 How should team members resolve any conflicts between their day
jobs and the team mission?
 What budget is available, in terms of time and money?
 Can the team recruit new team members?

 What can the team do, what can it not do, and what does it need
prior approval to do?
Resources and Support Available
This section lists the resources available to the team to accomplish its
goals. This includes budgets, time, equipment, and people. In
conjunction with the performance assessments, changes to the
resources required should be monitored regularly.
As well as this, it details the training and coaching support available to
the team to help it to do its job.

This section outlines how the team will operate on a day-to-day basis. It
may be comprehensive and detailed for a long-duration team, or limited
to a few bullet points in a team that is expected to have a short life.
Example: Team Meetings
 The first team meeting will be on Monday, 28 February at 2:00pm.
 The team will meet every Monday afternoon from 2:00pm to
3:30pm for the duration of the project.
 Each member is expected to present a short status report for the
aspect of the project they are working on.
 If a member is unable to attend, a notification must be sent to the
team leader and someone else designated to report on the status
and communicate further expectations.

 A summary of each meeting will be prepared by Jim and emailed
to all members by the morning following the meeting.
Negotiation and Agreement
A good Team Charter emerges naturally through a process of
negotiation. The team's client establishes the Context and Mission.
Objectives, composition, roles, boundaries and resources ideally emerge
through negotiation between the sponsor, the team leader, the team, and
other stakeholders.
We're using the word "negotiation" here, although it may not seem to be
that way! Three things are key to success here:
 Discussion within the team and with the team leader to make sure
that the mission and team charter are credible.
 Assertive negotiation between the sponsor and the team leader to
ensure that the mission is achievable, and that sufficient resources
are deployed.
 Support from the sponsor to ensure that these resources actually
are made available.

While these may appear to be polite discussions between bosses and
subordinates, negotiation is actually taking place in a very real way.
Ultimately, the team needs to believe that the mission is achievable, and
commit to it. Or if not speak out immediately.
Last, but not least, comes approval. This is where all members of the
team sign off on the Charter and commit to the principles it contains and
the roles and responsibilities detailed.
This is a symbolic gesture that communicates full commitment to the
mission and objectives. It also helps to create accountability to one
another and to the organization.
Key Points

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
More than this, by negotiating the Charter assertively, all parties can
shape the project so that it stands a good chance of success. Then can
then commit wholeheartedly to the project's success.
Negotiating a Team Charter can also be useful as a way of sorting out a
dysfunctional team. Objectives can be confirmed, goals structured and
agreed, roles aligned, and resources can be recommitted. Finally, after
fair negotiation, people can be asked to commit to the Team Charter, and
can be managed appropriately

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