Before assigning a group of people to work together as a team, the sponsor or “champion” should think about why the team needs to be in business and what they will need to set them up for success. The sponsor is typically the person in the organization with the clout to make the team’s recommendations a reality – and the courage to let go of the team details.
One of the ways they can “let go” is to create a team charter: a written description of what the team is being asked to do, including the scope and constraints. The sponsor and team leader should work together to build the charter, which typically contains the following elements:
Background. Give the reason(s) for chartering the team. State the perceived problem/project and any information that would be useful to the people who must complete the project.
Mission, Vision, or Goal. What you, the sponsor, or the process owner (the person with the most at stake to win or lose in the process/project/problem) wants from the team. What the team is expected to do and what changes are expected as a result of this teamwork. Beware: If you are vague about your expectations, don’t be surprised by what the team finally delivers!
Membership. Choose your members carefully. Volunteers are best, the process owner a must. Make sure you have representation from every key part of the process as well as from different levels within the organization. Consider using a facilitator to keep the team on track and to provide training as needed.
Duration. How long the team expects to work on the project. Intact workgroups are perpetual; task forces, process improvement, and problem-solving teams have a finite life span—typically no more than six months or they lose steam and wither away.
Checkpoints. When you expect the team to check in with you. At the very least, the team should check in at critical times during the project.
Feedback Mechanism. How the team communicates with you, the people they are representing, and other members on the team.
Boundaries. Any issues that are “out of bounds” and not for the team to consider.
Resources. What resources (money, training, specialists, support, equipment, supplies) will be needed.
Guidelines. Any specific areas to address, processes to be used, people to involve, or whatever you think needs to be considered in order to accomplish the team’s goal.
Logistics. When, where, how often, and for how long the team will meet. How the team members’ “normal work” will get done while they are involved on the team.
Once the team members have been identified, the sponsor should bring them all together to discuss, agree with, and modify (if necessary) the team charter. Once you have agreement on the direction, scope, and process, the team will be in a much better position to move forward quickly and successfully.
For more information about elevating your team results, processes and relationships, contact master facilitator, Kristin Arnold at 800.589.4733.
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 27 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action. Her latest book, 123 Ways to Add Pizazz to a Panel Discussion was published in January 2021.
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