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Developing a Team Charter (TRN1-V09)


This video explores how a team charter can help make virtual teams even more efficient.

Duration: 00:07:04
Published: November 9, 2021
Type: Video

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Developing a Team Charter

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Transcript: Developing a Team Charter

If you're looking for ways that your team can be even more effective, this video is for you. One of the most common challenges we hear is that things don't seem to flow and click into place like they did in the office.

But that's not a symptom of remote work – it's a common symptom of change and unfamiliarity.

Based on past experiences, we know that if we find ourselves without established routines, practices, processes and culture we need to: take ownership, create processes, establish culture, and get everyone on board.

A Team Charter can help you do all that, and it starts with collaboration and consensus-building.

In fact, even if your team is not quite ready to develop a Team Charter, we still encourage you to pay close attention to this video.  The subjects covered in a Team Charter are key things you will need to figure out about your team to find solid ground for your virtual work.

Setting the Stage

Before you can begin developing your Team Charter, there are a few things you need to decide on:

First, be sure to facilitate your meeting in the Official Languages spoken by your team.

Then, you need to decide on the logistics of developing it as collaboratively as possible with the tools available to your team.

The important thing is to do what works for your team...

Use the tools available to you to be as collaborative as possible. One person shares the screen and you edit together or add it to a whiteboard platform

Finally, be sure to book time for your team to build this document together. At less than 10 slides, it might seem quick, but it often triggers deep and meaningful discussions that you will not want to rush through.  Plan on 2 hours altogether.  It's also a great idea to make this part of the agenda of a Virtual Team-Building Retreat.

The real value of the team charter is in the collaboration and having everyone's buy in.

Building your Charter

Before your Team Charter meeting, every member of the team needs to complete a User Guide to Me.

These user guides outline things like: hours I like to work, work-life balance, the best way to communicate with me, important values, and skills I bring to the table.

The first thing you'll want to tackle at your meeting is what is your team's Vision and Mission?

If your team doesn't already have one, you can take the time to brainstorm one or you can use the one for your division, directorate, branch, or department – whichever is closest to your team organizationally.

Next, state your team's Values – these will help guide you in developing the other parts of your Charter. These should support your team's mission but also not conflict with team members' personal values. This can be a tricky balance but if you put them all into a word cloud it can help point the way.

Next up is outlining Roles and Responsibilities. We often forget that there are two parts to "Roles & Responsibilities" and that they are not necessarily one and the same.  For that reason, we recommend looking at them separately.  Before you attribute responsibilities to each role, you must first agree on a set of roles on your team.

Think of this as defining just the "who" not the "what" and "how" because you'll get to that later.

Once you've agreed on the roles in your team - the "who" -, you can move on to defining responsibilities for each role - this is the "what" -.

Try to define at least 3 responsibilities for each role you've outlined.

Now we've reached the Operations section of your Charter. This is probably the most important part of your Charter – where you can get into the "how" of getting the job done and discuss areas where things don't seem to be clicking into place.  This is where you can brainstorm new ideas & suggestions and build consensus around them.

You can start by asking if there are things that are not working well that you need to discuss and resolve with a new operating principle or procedure.

Talk about the way you communicate and share information and talk about some of the virtual best practices you've learned about.

Some other things to think about:

Do you book meetings to share information and debriefs?  Or do you share that in writing so that it's accessible?

Should collaborative documents be shared as email attachments?  Or should they be saved in places like GCdocs or Office 365 where you can work together?

How do you ensure your team stays connected?  Do you set up a dedicated channel on Teams for chatting or book a dedicated Teams meeting at the end of the week to decompress together?

How do you manage your workload?  What tools will you use to help visualize workloads, deliverables, and timelines? How will you handle decision-making & approvals in this virtual space?

Take as much time as you need to figure out and document these things. If you find yourself running out of time during your scheduled workshop, book another. Or, tackle this bit by bit at your regularly-scheduled team meetings.

Now comes the section on Conflict Resolution Mechanisms.

Anywhere there is human interaction, there is bound to be conflict from time to time. It's important to discuss and agree beforehand on how to deal constructively with conflicts.

This can be as simple as raising the issue with the other person as a first step.  Escalating to the first level of management, if necessary. And so on.  The most important thing here is to agree on this as a team beforehand, instead of trying to figure something out after conflict arises.

The final section of your Team Charter is the Skills and Knowledge Inventory.  Every single one of your team mates has super powers. It's true!  We've all got skills, knowledge, and experience that make us a great addition to our team AND that can be incredibly helpful to our colleagues.  That's why we need to know about each other's, and that's why there is a Skills & Knowledge Inventory in your Team Charter.  You'd be surprised what you'll learn about your colleagues' hidden talents, and how quickly you can think of a project or something where they might be able to help you out.

To help build your Skills & Knowledge Inventory, there is a section in your User Guides to Me called "I have skills and/or knowledge in." Information can easily be copied/pasted in this slide. For the sake of space, you may wish to only add 3 for each person so that it all fits on one slide. However, you don't have to limit yourself to one slide – do whatever works best for your team!

Those User Guides can also be added as an annex to your Team Charter for everyone to access easily.

There you have it, your Team Charter is complete! Well, complete for now because it's an evergreen document that evolves as your team evolves.

Revisit and update your Team Charter as often as needed, but a word of advice: don't use a Team Charter for policing behaviour, but more of a guiding light for agreed upon principles.

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