The team charter is a written agreement that spells out the charge given to the team and the responsibilities of all the people involved. It should be discussed, agreed to, and then signed by all the members of the team, the management sponsors, and other appropriate people.
The charter should include the following elements at a minimum:
- A description of the problem that the team is to address or their charge for existence.
- All expected outcomes of the team effort.
- All parameters relevant to the effort: staff resources available, use of a facilitator, available or required training, technical support available, deadlines or time constraints, other groups who need to be consulted, options which are “off the table”, and decision-making authorities.
- Decision-making process to be used by the team.
- Method by which the team will communicate with management and other key stakeholders.
- Names, roles and responsibilities of all team members, management sponsors, the facilitator, and other appropriate people.
This essential set of elements create the core structure for helping to set a team up for success. But beyond teams, these elements are critical for any group function at any level. Think about it – if any of these aren’t clear, the group may struggle.
Teams may also go on to create agreements on how to work together such as: encouraged group behaviors and norms, meeting frequency, conflict strategies, and roles of the individual members on the team. While not all of the agreement areas just listed are relevant to each team, working through them will help the team address problems in advance. It is up to the individual team to decide which areas they wish to use.