Working a as a team may be very challenging if the team does not start on the right foot. On the contrary, it may be a rewarding experience, if the team members know what the general purpose, the outcomes, and the measurable objectives for the team are, so that the team will know when they have achieved them.
To avoid confusion, the team should draft a team charter right after it is formed.
Team charter is a document drafted, discussed, agreed on, and signed by all of the team members. Team Charter records the purpose of team, its mission and objectives, what resources are available and are the expected outcomes. In most cases, the sponsor’s or the instructor’s approval and signature are needed.
The process of deciding the charter’s rules, and agreement on roles and responsibility of the members, foster efficiency and effectiveness of the team.
It involves all of the members in, gives them a clear view of where they are heading, and keeps them committed.
It helps the team to focus on the big picture, and keeps them the right path from the start. Drafting a team charter at the start of the project allows proper utilization of resources and talents, and ensures success of the project in the stipulated time frame.
Discussing a Team Charter is a good way of sorting out a dysfunctional team, and after fair negotiation, members may be asked to commit to the Team Charter, and can be managed properly.
In order to create an effective team charter, the purpose of the team must be clearly identified. Why the team was formed, what the problem it is trying to solve, what are we trying to accomplish or deliver?
Identify the person or the client team is responsible to. Identify those who can tackle the barriers and provide feedback, etc.
Identify a mission ,so the team knows what it has to achieve. Without a clear mission and objective, team members may simply pursue their own agendas independently of, and sometimes irrespective of, the team’s mission and goal.
Take the mission and convert it into measurable objectives, and goals as milestones. Consider Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound objectives, which can be measured, so that success can be monitored. The milestones will keep the team on right path.
Identify the members. If you have the choice of choosing your team members, choose them based on their knowledge and skill relevant to the project. If not, identify the talent, strengths and weaknesses of each member.
Take an inventory of skills for each member. For example, write down the level of computer skills, software knowledge, writing skill, leadership, communication or presentation, or interest to assist others. etc. Do the same for weaknesses. For example, some members may not be comfortable with public speaking and prefer to do the paper work or research part of the project. Identify the areas of strength, and assign tasks by matching the members to roles accordingly.
List team members and define the roles and responsibilities of each. Make sure the team members know what their roles and responsibilities are; and what resources are available to them. Write down the names and contact information. Elect a leader based on his or her leadership skills and willingness, to manage and oversee the team’s progress and performance. Discuss, negotiate and define the roles, functions and authority within the team
Lists the available budget, time and tools. Identify if a new team member could be added to the team, if any training or any external help (from the supervisor or other teams) is available.
Outline the operating procedures. Discuss and outline how the team will function on a day-to-day basis. Decide on schedule of meetings, for example, how often, when or where are you going to meet, how often will you check your emails, what type of notification required and to whom it may be presented , if member cannot attend. For example, the team will meet every Thursday morning between 9:30-11:30 for the duration of the project. Depending on the team’s objectives and the project’s requirements, this can be as comprehensive or as minimal as possible.
Set up some ground rules for the members to adhere. Discuss and negotiate rule that everyone agrees to abide by. Foe example set up rules about communication styles (phone, email), assignment completion, attendance expectations, agenda, etc. Set up rules about how to make decisions, (vote, consensus, or consultative) and how to handle violation of rules.
Identify the Conflict Management methods. Discuss the potential conflicts that may arise among team members during the project duration. Decide on how the team members will deal with conflicts when emotions rise, roadblocks appear or process is delayed for some reason.
Decide on how to monitor and measure the assignment, milestones and if reaching the goals. Identify the potential barriers to the achievement of these goals. For example, what types of limitations or restrictions are there? Outline the possible problems that may show up due to time conflicts, or members having other jobs or engagement, etc… And how to deal with them,
Obtain formal approval and signatures of the team members, after everything is discussed and agreed on. The charter is not a rigid contract, but will help the team members to understand the purpose of the team, and their roles and responsibilities, and will create a team spirit to achieve and accomplish these objectives
Nahid is a fourth year student at Capilano University. With a Business diploma from Capilano, she started working as accounting clerk and she performed as a full cycle accountant until she came back to get her degree. Nahid is a CGA student at PACE level and will continue her CGA courses after obtaining her Degree. She is currently studying project management, and management decision-making . She considers project management as her future career.