Whatever the size, working as a team can be challenging and rewarding, often at the same time!

People bring their own set of skills, experience, strengths and weaknesses to the team. This helps to foster collaboration or can present barriers to great teamwork.

While you all share the same goals, your individual objectives may differ. So how can everyone stay aligned?

It’s especially challenging today, as we move into the largely unknown environment being called hybrid working. Your team may well be working asynchronously, but it's critical to also produce synchronously. And that is not easy!

Although the concept has been around for some time, a team charter can help. A well thought out and shared team charter will bring everyone together. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the basics, starting with: 

What is a team charter?

It serves as a guiding star for the. It articulates the team’s purpose, desired behaviours, objectives and commitment. The most effective team charters detail a team’s focus, direction, and boundaries, thereby reducing confusion, duplication, and repetition.

When should we have one?

If you’ve been working together for a while, it would be easy to assume that you don’t need one. After all, you already know your team purpose and objectives. But, what if your understanding of these is different from your colleagues?

The defining feature of a team charter is that everyone contributes to it. This ensures every member of the team commits to its contents. A team charter created by the leader or a chosen few is simply not going to work. 

As people join and leave the team, it’s important to include them by revisiting the charter. Remember, you should let it grow and change organically with your team.

How to create a team charter

Making a charter for your team is a fun, collaborative process. You can start by using a Team Charter Canvas, freely available from the internet. 

Once you have a place to collaborate with your team using the template, here’s how to create the charter:

1. Identify your compelling team purpose:

Create a simple, succinct goal statement that outlines what you aim to achieve, and by when. 

  • Why is this important?

  • What is the price of failure?

  • What are the key, quantifiable measures of success?

  • What's the vision, what does success look like for your team?

  • How does this fit in with the rest of the organisation? 


2. Define the context:

Have everyone on the team write out their answers to these questions:

  • Who is the team leader? 

  • What will key stakeholders expect from this team? 

  • What does each person bring to the team? 

  • What are their individual expectations? 


3. Create deadlines and milestones: 

Define roles and responsibilities by mapping back to the goal statement:

  • Who is doing what?
  • For whom?
  • What does each team member need to achieve their goal?


4. Layout your governance & cadence: 

To create an effective team charter, you have to balance the aspirational with the tangible. The aspirational part of the charter is the goal statement and the vision. But it’s just as crucial to measure your progress toward your goals. Your charter should lay out the internal checks and balances that ensure you’re reviewing progress.

  • How will you check-in?
  • When or how often?
  • How will you track progress?


5. Sign off on the charter:

Many teams like to print it out and ask teammates to physically sign the paper, to symbolise their commitment.
 If you want to be bolder, how about you paint it on the wall for everyone to see?

There you are. If you haven't got a team charter, perhaps it's time to create one.

Let us know how you get on.