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Use a Team Charter to Increase Team Success

Team CharterA team charter provides a team – whether a workgroup, department team or a project team – with clarity around the purpose, mission and goals of the team. Most particularly for virtual teams the charter is absolutely essential to ensure understanding of what the team has been tasked with doing for the organization.

A team charter includes the following components:

  • Purpose: Why is the team being formed?
  • Scope: What is the scope of the team’s initiative? What are the team’s objectives? What high level goals must the team achieve to be successful?
  • Team composition: Who are the team members? What are the functional areas/divisions/vendors they represent? What is their geographic location? Are they participating full-time or part-time on the team? What is the estimated duration of their time on the project?
  • Team operations: Include here how decisions will be made on the team, how changes in team members will be managed, ground rules for working together, logistical support, technology to be used, how the team will collaborate with each other and share information.
  • Team performance assessment: What are the key areas of performance needed for team success? How will performance be measured by the team?
  • Major team milestones: What are the expected milestones for the initiative? What are the associated timeframes and established schedule for completion of work?

While the charter should be developed in conjunction with your team, there are some components of the charter that you, as the team leader, will likely complete ahead of time and then look to get agreement on – such as the:

  • Purpose of team
  • Scope of team’s project
  • Major team milestones

Work with the project sponsor or your manager to ensure a thorough understanding of the team’s purpose and objectives prior to your initial team meeting so that you can answer questions from team members.

Use the following steps for communicating with the team prior to the initial team meeting to develop a team charter:

  • Distribute a copy of the partially completed Team Charter for review at least one week before the initial team kick off meeting.
  • Ask the team members to give some thought to the Team Charter components and be prepared to provide input/ideas/suggestions at the initial team meeting.