Working in teams is a great experience and fun. However, the experience can become sour if team members try to conduct functions as per their own will. Organizations may be unable to focus on the right goals and they may not be able to make optimum use of resources. In this article, we will discuss about team charters and how they help in team management. Here, we will also learn about team building and dynamics.
A team charter is a roadmap that decides the movement of a team. It is an agreement that involves all team members. It helps in setting values and protocols for the team.
Importance of Team Charters
A team charter assists in creating a team that functions more on values and team work and less on job description. By creating this document, companies can ensure that employees get a view of the bigger picture. It helps in building enthusiasm among the team members so that they can meet the objectives of the team. Team charters are bridges that link organizational visions and everyday functions in a team.
If new team members are shown this document, they will get an insight into the functioning of the team and the procedure they need to follow to fulfill their work. The charter helps them in identifying and utilizing things that are not written down anywhere, such as communication process.
Sharing the document with other teams ensure spreading of information about the team to other departments of the organization. The other teams come to know about the main figures of the team and how it operates. As a result, communication inside the organization and the team is improved thereby, decreasing the chances of false expectation and miscommunication.
Team charters need to be drawn up when the team starts functioning. This keeps the team members focussed on the objectives of the organization.
Sections of a Team Charter
This is the first part of the charter and states the reason behind the formation of the team. It sets out the issues the team tries to solve, the objectives of the team and how these objectives match with the broader objectives of the company and consequences the team can face if certain problems go unchecked. Here are some questions that are asked while deciding upon the context.
- What is the problem faced by the team?
- What does the team expect to receive by solving the problem?
- What is the importance of the charter?
The charter mentions the time-period which the team will require for completing a given task. It also mentions the estimated time which will be given to a task on a daily basis.
This is the most significant part of the charter and mentions the mission of the team thus, underlining what the team members should achieve. In the absence of a proper mission, team members will not know what they should try to achieve and each one will pursue agendas of their own choice. Sometimes, they even tend to forget the problems faced by the team and the actual objectives of the company.
The mission of the team has to be converted into objectives. These are targets that assist in keeping the team on a fixed path. Objectives of a team should be prepared by keeping in mind the SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). The objectives should be measurable, so that the success rate of the team can be assessed.
# Team Members
Team members and team leaders should be listed separately along with their responsibilities. This is a form of recognizing the contribution of team members thus, giving rise to commitment.
The following aspects can make a team effective.
- Skilled and experienced team members
- Presence of adequate number of team members
The mission and objectives of a team let the team leader know about the roles and responsibilities of each member. The team leader should then assign separate tasks according to the capabilities of the team members. The leader must be able to identify the gaps in the skills of team members so that they can be corrected.
The following are the most probable questions when planning about the team members and their roles.
- Who will be the negotiator between the team and the other stakeholders of the company?
- Which team members will be assigned with what type of task?
# Other Resources
Other resources or supporting resources are people who are not team members but still have a role to play in the bigger perspective. Budget, equipment and time available are also considered supporting resources. When performance of employees is assessed, the changes required in supporting resources should also be thought about.
The operations section of the team charter describes the day to day functions of the team. The description can be detailed or stated in a summarized form, as per requirements. In most cases teams with a long duration have detailed descriptions of operations and in short-term teams, the operations are mentioned in a few bullet points.
The deliverables section includes Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that calculate the estimated success. When KPIs are considered at this point, the team can eliminate immeasurable deliverables at an early stage. An auditing process that caters to a long term, documents and desired attitudes are the aspects that help in realizing if deliverables are in place.
# Negotiation and Agreement
While the context and mission of the team charter is established by the client, objectives, roles and resources are obtained from negotiation among team leader, team members, sponsor and other stakeholders.
In the agreement section, team members give their approvals and sign the charter. This way, they commit to the rules and responsibilities stated therein.
The charter is thus, a reflection of the commitment the team members give to the objectives of the company and the team.
The article helps to deduce the importance of a charter in the proper functioning of a team. It underlines the fact that a proper planning at the beginning helps team members to act according to the needs of the situation and the work at hand. Thus, it can be said that team charters are the guidebook that leads a team on the right track.