I have been teaching quite a few high-performance teams workshops in the last several months and have been surprised to discover that not one group I worked with had ever created a “team charter.” By this I mean, a written list of rules and expectations that the team all agrees to and guides the way they work together. I believe this is an essential document to help people clearly understand their role on the team, what behavior is appropriate and what things will not be tolerated. Without a charter, members of the group are simply guessing at how they are supposed to act and behave together as a team, leading to assumptions, politics, rumormongering, conflict, lack of accountability and ultimately lack of results. To help your organization avoid these issues here are a few ideas of what a team charter might look like:
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review recommended that a team charter should include these basic foundational tenets:
- I agree to be on time, realizing everyone’s time is limited and extremely valuable.
- I agree to show respect to every other member of the team and give them the benefit of the doubt.
- I agree to give my best effort in accomplishing every task, the team’s mission, and our shared purpose.
- I agree not to engage in any gossip about my team members and to put a stop to it if I encounter it.
- I agree to communicate early and often pertaining to any time off needed for my personal life.
- I agree to handle disputes, perceived offenses, or conflicts with dignity and professionalism.
This is the charter from a nonprofit organization I worked with:
- Be accountable
- Think before you speak
- Ask for clarification
- Set clear expectations
- Treat people with dignity and respect
- Ask for help
- Be direct and loving
- Look for the positive first
- Create safety zones where people can be honest in their feedback without fear of retribution
- Be present
- Check up on folks
- Helpful and supportive
- Communicate professionally
- Spend time together
- Have fun
This list is from a manufacturing company that I assisted:
- Listen to each other with an open mind without interruption
- Share knowledge, information, and experience with those who can benefit
- Take key decisions based on reasoning, not rank
- Express concerns only to those responsible for dealing with them
- A responsibility culture, not a blame culture
- Base our work on the ‘customer’
- Strive for continuous improvement
- Behave with integrity
- Positively challenging dishonesty or destructive behavior
- No ego
These are just a few ideas to help you in creating your team charter, however, it is essential that you develop a written, clear, and well-communicated charter that everyone on the team is fully committed to and agrees to support at all times. Without this document, it is impossible to build and sustain a high-performance team.
Please let me know if you have any questions or comments and if you found value in this article I hope you will share it with your entire network.
Thanks so much – John