Developing a Team Charter

We’re undergoing a lot of change at the moment, and one of the ways that we are addressing this is by holding sessions to develop what we call a “Team Charter”.

Essentially, the charter is a description of;

  • What is the purpose of the team
  • How the team contributes to that purpose
  • What are the shared values and behaviours
  • How the team plans to treat threats and make the most of identified opportunities
  • How the team can improve relationships with other teams across the organisation.

The reason why it’s called a charter is because everyone in the team signs up to it and agrees to make the necessary changes.

An example of what might be included could be to always turn up on time for meetings or to always sign off emails with “Kind Regards”. These may seem like small things, but they are easy to implement and, over time, can make a big difference to the way individuals and teams are perceived. It’s all about doing the simple things well.

Although the output – the Charter document – is important, the most useful part of the exercise is the process. Managers have a facilitation role but ultimately the discussion is team-led. It’s up to the team members to come up with the improvements and to commit to them at the end of the session.

In addition to the general benefits, we have found these sessions to be extremely helpful in responding to change. The opportunities/threats discussion is a good starting point, and the ideas which are generated by the team tend to be very positive.

We are taking the approach that whatever the future holds, it’s up to us to take the initiative wherever we can; the change is going to happen anyway, but if we anticipate it, rather than just sit back and let it happen, we can have a greater degree of influence over the outcome.

One of the team’s has decided that they need to rebrand themselves, so that it’s much clearer to everyone in the organisation that the work they do directly links into corporate objectives. They don’t have to change their jobs at all, but a greater amount of emphasis is placed on the strategic bits of what they do.

I’m aware that sometimes teambuilding session are seen as a bit of a waste of time, or just an excuse to have some time away from work, but I can honestly say that the charter sessions have made a major impact on the way IT staff think about their roles, and I’m pretty sure that it will make a big difference to how people think about IT.