Most Team Charters lack what we at TIGERS Success Series call, Articles of Interdependence. This is a team agreement that supports the team leader and stakeholders around the following core issues:
- Behavior that is named, endorsed and supported by all team members.
- Behavior that is named, discouraged and supported by all team members.
Items one and two establish behavioral norms that empower the team leader to tend the boundaries of team member behavior rather than micro-managing, ignoring or retreating from periods of group misunderstandings and confusion.
These behaviors achieved through consensus support the following:
- team meetings,
- team deliverables,
- project management communications and time line agreements,
- resource sharing and stakeholder coordination,
- team conflict resolution,
- team problem solving.
They clearly define how team members want to be in relationship with one another before the predictable period of group storming ensues.
Rarely are these matters attended to during the period of team forming and charter development, which differentiates TIGERS Success Series from other Team Development Organizations. As a result, some teams plunge into periods of extended team storming, which many team leaders are not trained to address resulting in serious delivery problems.
Now let’s take it a step further.
Each team is different. Just as the fur pattern on the face of a tiger is as unique as a human fingerprint, so is each team. Therefore, a cookie cutter approach to Articles of Team Interdependence as it applies to the team charter is a mistake that leads many organizations down the rabbit hole of conflict and confusion.
Therefore, by catalyzing each team around behaviors that build and detract from high functioning team behavior, each team is able to develop their own team understandings and norms with regard to relationship and task performance. For example, trust to a creative team might be expressed differently on a scientific team.
One solution we offer is the appropriate training of your staff to deploy TIGERS catalytic team resources with each and every team you decide to build. Therefore, you have the ongoing use of team development tools that are not solely restricted to team charter facilitation. These resources also support project management, executive action planning, change management initiatives, and onboarding new employees, which supports employee empowerment, engagement and retention opportunities.
Standardized Team Charter Activities
A team charter, including the Articles of Team Interdependence, is a document that is developed by new teams that clarifies team goals, roles, relationships and responsibilities while establishing well-defined team boundaries within the overall organizational structure. It is developed early during the forming stage of team dynamics.
It is preferred to develop the Articles of Interdependence first so team norms of behavior are agreed to up front. This helps the remainder of the team charter development to run smoothly. The charter should be developed in group sessions to encourage understanding and buy-in.
The team charter has two purposes. First, it serves as a team governance document that reduces confusion around goals, roles, relationships and scope and second as a point of education for stakeholders.
Charter Section Definitions
Team Purpose –This answers two questions: What’s the team’s mission? What problem(s) is/are the team being formed facing and what would be an acceptable outcome?
Scope (in scope / out of scope) –Thinking though the scope helps to define the beginning and end of the team’s purpose. It may list departments included or excluded. The scope, while setting parameters, also helps the team leader(s) easily identify tasks that are outside of the scope, therefore, minimizing scope creep.
Duration and Time Commitment –The length of time the team will be working together needs to be documented and defined and then agreed to by stakeholders. For example, depending on the team’s scope and purpose, the duration may require time beyond the team’s meeting schedule. Therefore, will the duration and time commitment impact the departments team members are being pulled from? If so, will there be conflicting goals between team performance and departmental duties? This is important to estimating the amount of time that will be dedicated to achieving team goals and to the commitment and participation of members.
Members –Team leader and members should be listed individually. This provides recognition and enhances commitment. Alternate members can also be listed. The team sponsors or department stakeholder from the leadership group needs to be assigned and listed after the team members to ensure performance accountability.
Goals, Deliverables, and Desired End Result –This is the team’s project outline that provides the team with a benchmark with the end in mind. This is where the sponsor and stakeholders can establish goals for the team to achieve. The goals need to be clearly defined and broken into expected deliverables. By defining the desired end result, the goals and deliverables, the magnitude of the team’s role becomes evident.
This section also defines the desired outputs. It should include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the intended success. By considering the KPIs at this stage, immeasurable deliverables are eliminated early. The deliverables should include the documents, the desired behaviors, and a long-term auditing process that verifies the deliverables are in place.
Supporting Resources –The supporting resources almost always include other people that were not assigned to the team but who can be called on for additional support and include subject matter experts and staff who provide services the team needs to facilitate the overall purpose. Other resources are dependent on the team activities (blue prints, meeting rooms, travel budgets, corporate authority, software, etc.) This section also considers other departments or organizational initiatives that may overlap with the group’s purpose.
Communication and Reporting Plan –This defines how the team will communicate progress. The team usually has stakeholders they answer to and it is important to report how the team activities are progressing and what hurdles the team is facing. The reporting plan should establish the frequency of reporting as well as content. It is also the documentation process that sometimes calls for additional Supporting Resources when needed.
Deliverables –This section defines the outputs. It should include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the intended success. By considering the KPIs at this stage, immeasurable deliverables are eliminated early. The deliverables should include the documents, the desired behaviors, and a long-term auditing process that verifies the deliverables are in place.
Conflict Management Guidelines –This section spells out clearly how conflict will be managed internally and when it should be taken up stream to the team sponsor or department managers for resolution if problems can not be handled internally. An example would be a team member whose team performance is failing due to conflict with regular departmental duties.
Articles of Interdependence –This section deals with specific behaviors the team adopts as group norms for performance and relationship maintenance. This section also helps the team resolve conflict internally.
Problem Solving and Decision Making Guidelines –This section outlines which decisions must be made by the team leader, by team consensus or by the sponsor and stakeholders. If a team member lacks the authority to render a decision without prior approval of a sponsor or stakeholder, this needs to be know up front with conditions specified in order not to bog down team performance or frustrate members. This also effects Duration and Time commitments.
Please keep in mind that every team will be different because of the composition of team members, the members themselves and the scope of work. Therefore, it is important to attend to the details of each charter section carefully and to ensure stakeholder and management’s commitment to outcomes.
Copyright © 2014, TIGERS Success Series, Inc. Bend, Oregon 97702