A team charter outlines what your team stands for and how they operate. By creating a document of shared goals, strategies, and processes, your team can start every project on a united front. Learn how to create a team charter so you can establish a shared vision and source of truth for your team.
Your team is like carefully placed dominos. You can mix and match skill sets to build something special, but when one person wobbles, everyone feels it. Teams require positive synergy to withstand challenges and produce great results. One way to spark synergy is with a team charter.
Team charters are a communal reference that show your team that the whole is greater than the individual. In this article, learn how to create a team charter so you can establish a shared vision and source of truth for your team.
A team charter is a visual outline of what your team stands for and how they operate. By creating a document of shared goals, strategies, and processes, your team can start every project on a united front. Team charters are a collaborative process and can serve as a central source of information. A team charter:
Provides accountability for team members
Delivers a customized team process document
Establishes a shared vision for project success
Ensures all team members understand team ideals
In addition to their internal benefits, team charters can show your team's purpose to the rest of your company. Not only will you explicitly state your purpose in a section of the document, but as others read the document in its entirety, they’ll understand how your team collectively operates.Free team charter template
Before learning how to create a team charter, take a look at the basic elements of a team charter template. You can format your team charter template in a variety of ways, ranging from a mind map to a flowchart.
Mission and objectives: State the purpose of your team and what you collectively seek to accomplish.
Roles and responsibilities: List team member roles and responsibilities so everyone can review expectations of them and others.
Budget and resources: Explain how your team will determine project budgets and allocate project resources. List any universal rules for managing project finances.
Work processes: Give a step-by-step overview of your team’s project workflows, and ensure everyone on the team understands this process.
Performance assessment: Explain how your team will measure project success in objective and subjective terms.
Communication norms: Identify how and where team members should communicate with each other and whether the communication should change based on your discussion.
Rules and conflict resolution: List basic ground rules for how team members will work together and offer strategies for resolving conflicts when they arise.
Signatures: Provide an area for team members to sign the document and establish accountability for the information presented and agreed upon.
As a manager, you’ll likely know what information you want to include in each section of the team charter, but team collaboration is also important as you write up your document. By involving your team members throughout the process, you can co-create a team charter you’re all proud to use. Try the steps below to guide you along the way.
While your team may work on multiple projects, there’s likely a larger program that describes your work. Consider this question to begin your team charter: How does our team work within the company? This will help you state your team’s purpose.
Tip: Place your team’s purpose in the section of your team charter devoted to mission and objectives. Finding a creative way to state your purpose can be a bonding opportunity for the team. Ask your team to brainstorm your team’s purpose, and write down all of their ideas. Then, try narrowing your team’s purpose down to one sentence—kind of like a formal mission statement for your team. Some teams also call this their “North Star.”
Starting with the highest-ranking job role on your team, break down your team structure and list out the responsibilities associated with each role. This section will help reinforce each team member’s role, while also serving as a reference to help team members understand what their coworkers work on.
This section is also particularly helpful for cross-team collaboration. Depending on the size of your team and how new a team member is, everyone may not be familiar with what other people’s job duties are. When you share everyone’s roles and responsibilities in your team charter, you’re creating a central source of truth that team members can access if they have any questions. Then, as things change, you can easily update this section if roles switch or new team members join.
Tip: To break down your team structure in a collaborative way, consider turning this section of your team charter into a team-building activity. Gather your team members—virtually or in person—and challenge everyone to learn each other’s names, job roles, and associated responsibilities.Read: Building a cross-functional team: 9 tips and benefits
Project budgets and resources can be difficult to secure, manage, and allocate. Having a section dedicated to cost management strategies can help team members during project planning and in change control situations.
Some strategies you may use include:
Create a detailed budget proposal during project planning
Allocate resources as soon as you know what you have to work with
Reduce costs whenever and wherever possible
Anticipate project changes before they occur
If team members know how to predict costs and keep them down, they’ll have a better chance of keeping stakeholders happy.
Tip: The main goal of this section is to document general processes for handling project budgets and ensure everyone is on the same page. While you lead this discussion with your team, make sure to give team members the opportunity to provide input.Free team charter template
A workflow is an end-to-end process that helps teams meet their goals by connecting the right people to the right data at the right time. Once it’s set up, a workflow helps you organize information in a way that is not only understandable, but also repeatable.
Every project workflow starts with a standard project planning phase, which includes the following seven steps:
Define goals and project objectives
Set success metrics
Clarify stakeholders and roles
Set your budget
Align on milestones and deliverables
Share your communication plan
While each project may vary slightly based on unique features, you should have a general process to create deliverables and achieve project success.
Tip: Your team may have more than one workflow, depending on how many programs or workstreams you manage. For each major workflow, ensure team members understand the broad process—as well as who to approach for any specific questions.
Your team should have a general way to measure what project success looks like. It’s a good idea to use a mixture of objective and subjective ways to define success. This way, your team won’t fall into a routine of developing projects without considering all perspectives first.
To develop your team’s specific definition(s) of success, consider the following questions:
Do you define project success by comparing the project outcome to the initial project objectives?
Do you use feedback from stakeholders or customers to measure success?
Do you have a broader view of success based on your team’s purpose?
Tip: Make sure your goals—even your subjective ones—follow the SMART methodology. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Team communication is crucial for project success, but there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with your team members. While face-to-face or virtual meetings may make sense for some types of team communication, keeping a paper trail can also be beneficial for project talk so that details are easy to remember and look back on when needed.
To establish your team’s standard forms of communication, ask questions like:
How should team members communicate when discussing projects?
How should team members communicate about internal matters?
Where should team members communicate with clients, or should they relay information to you so that you can handle client communication?
Tip: As you standardize your team communication, take some time to discuss the way your team currently communicates. Try to identify areas where you want to improve and use these areas as jumping off points for your team charter.Leggi: La comunicazione asincrona non è ciò che pensi
Your team will inevitably disagree. In fact, disagreement is a sign of strong collaboration—because it means your team members are comfortable sharing their real opinions and being their full selves. However, while disagreement in and of itself isn’t a bad thing, it is critical to establish a basic set of team values and ground rules to prevent disagreements from escalating.
Team rules don’t need to be extensive, they just have to be things that your team values. Work with your team members to brainstorm your most important team values and create a series of ground rules.
Examples of ground rules in a team charter include:
Treat everyone with respect.
Always assume positive intent.
Treat customers, coworkers, and managers equally.
Celebrate each other's accomplishments.
Constructive criticism only.
Practice active listening.
With a simple set of ground rules, you can prevent conflicts and miscommunication. If conflicts occur, having conflict resolution strategies in your team charter can help team members move forward.
Examples of conflict resolution strategies in a team charter include:
Don’t let problems fester.
Differentiate between intent and impact
Discuss conflicts openly.
Find solutions together.
Tip: Turn this section of the team charter into a collaborative activity by acting out challenging situations where these ground rules may unintentionally get broken. Practice using your conflict resolution strategies to find common ground. Like most soft skills, conflict resolution isn’t something you can learn in a day, but continuously practicing it as a team can help you all improve.
Everyone on the team should be on the same page about what to include in the team charter. Share the document digitally with work management software like Asana to allow others to access the document and see when you’ve made changes.
Tip: To maintain team unity and ensure everyone remains on the same page, re-distribute the team charter each quarter and have team members review it. You can then hold a meeting and invite everyone to make suggestions or improvements so the document stays up to date.Read: Teamwork in the workplace: 11 benefits (with examples)
Here, you’ll see an example of a team charter for a marketing team. It allows team members to visualize each section without needing to scroll through walls of text. This format also makes it easy to find information and change it when needed.
Your team charter will likely have more detail than this sample, but it can still be easily digestible and accessible. Try our free team charter template below to get started.
It takes more than natural chemistry to create team synergy. Effective teams stand by their core values and collaborate when making decisions. A team charter can ensure everyone stays in touch with the team’s processes and purpose.
When you integrate your team charter with work management software like Asana, your team can show just how much they can achieve together.Free team charter template