How to Create a Team Charter for Success
Do you find yourself working on a team that lacks initiative except for the things each individual finds useful? Creating a team charter may help your team find their core values and purpose in the organization.
If you are working on an agile team, you may be familiar with having a working agreement. A team charter includes a working agreement and much more, such as the team’s vision, mission, mission test, and team member profiles. Other pertinent information such as dates for team social events can also be included.
Team charters act as a shared set of operating principles and values. There is some time commitment necessary to create a useful team charter; it may take several work sessions to finalize all of the details and language of your team charter. But everyone on the team needs to be involved. Team members get the most value out of creating their own team charter, as the value is generated through the conversations necessary to form each aspect of it.
An easy place for most teams to start is by penning personal profiles. Your profile should include your role, core competencies, favorite pastime, aspirations for career growth, and other personal information. You can find a template here.
Once each team member creates a profile, they should all be shared with every member of the team. This activity helps you get to know your coworkers on a personal level as well as a professional one.
Vision and mission statements are essential aspects of the team charter. The vision statement gives a directional view of where the team wants to be. The mission statement details how the team will fulfill its vision. Don’t waste too much time trying to get the language perfect on the first iteration. Instead, aim for vision and mission statements that just provide enough detail to create a common understanding of the team’s purpose.
One of the best methods to validate the mission statement is to create mission tests. These tests provide the team with information about whether they are achieving their stated mission. Any inconsistencies can be worked out by revising the mission statement, the tests, or the actual work.
The final aspect of your team charter should be the working agreement. A good working agreement includes information such as regularly scheduled team meeting information (location, date, time, and audio and video connection), expectations of team member roles, information radiators, and working standards. Click here for a template.
The completed charter should be posted in a highly visible location and also stored electronically. Team charters differ from project or program charters in that a team charter lives with the team. The charter should be revisited when any substantive change is made to the type of work the team is asked to perform and whenever the team gets a new member.
When created effectively, a team charter should point the team in the right direction and encourage understanding, purpose, and success.
Linda Cook will be copresenting the session Well Begun Is Half Done: Creating Dynamic and Living Team Charters with Chris Espy at Agile Development Conference East 2015, from November 8–13 in Orlando, Florida.