Working collaboratively and purposefully as a team is a key ingredient for any successful tech company. Part of what helps a team work collaboratively together is creating a sense of unified purpose and mission — a singular objective that the whole team understands and can work towards with each other.
Without understanding and supporting a singular purpose or mission, a team can break apart or drift away from the mission.
As a product manager, it is your responsibility to shape the team’s key mission and objectives. Your role is also to explain and unify team members behind the “why,” aka the reason the key mission and objectives exist in the first place. Being clear and concise with what you want to achieve with the team, as well as why you want to achieve it, helps drive the team towards completing initiatives that are aligned with your product and company’s mission.
An effective way in driving collaboration and a unified purpose within the team is by using a team charter. In this article, we will explore what a team charter is, its key benefits, and the components of a successful team charter. I’ll also give you a free team charter template for you to use and customize as needed. Let’s get started!
Table of contents
- What is a team charter?
- What are the key benefits of having a team charter?
- Houses key information in one place
- Facilitates team discussions
- Enforces boundaries and focuses the team’s work
- The components of a team charter
- Team charter template
What is a team charter?
The team charter underpins the formation and continued existence of any team within a company. The charter is a document that helps align different personalities, skill sets, and expectations of members within the team. It also provides direction to the team, not only in terms of the “what” and “why” the team’s working on certain initiatives, but also the values and rituals of the team.
By having a team charter, teams can have more focus and direction. The document clearly spells out exactly what the team will and won’t be working on in both the short and long term. Additionally, most team charters are a collaborative effort between members and leaders of the team, making it a document that everyone can agree on. This helps foster a sense of authenticity and genuiness in the team charter — something that can be relied upon by both members of the team and other internal members of the company.
Think of the team charter as an instruction booklet or manual. It helps the team understand their roles and responsibilities and how each of them helps contribute to the wider goals of the product and the company.
What are the key benefits of having a team charter?
The following are the key benefits of having a team charter:
Houses key information in one place
As mentioned above, having a team charter not only helps detail the “what” and “why” of the tasks, but also keeps it all in a single, transparent, and easily-accessible spot that everyone in the company can access.
Facilitates team discussions
Since the team charter is a document everyone on the team can collaborate on, it becomes an ideal place for either sync or async discussions. Examples include discussions between team members about each other’s roles and responsibilities, the values of the team, as well as the understanding of the scope and depth of the mission/objectives of the team.
Enforces boundaries and focuses the team’s work
By having discussions around the mission and objectives of the team, a team charter helps put a “fence” around the potential work that the team will undertake. It ensures that everyone will be focusing on the most relevant, high-value work that helps the team achieve its mission and goals.
The team charter helps provide a singular mindset rather than keeping members on different paths that diverge from the shared mission or objective.
Components of a team charter
The following are some of the key components of a team charter:
Team mission and objective
Start your team charter off by listing the exact mission or objective the team is meant to achieve. This should be a 1–2 line statement that clearly and succinctly explains the reason for the existence of your team.
For example, this can be the objective for which key results will be measured against (e.g., OKRs) or a more philosophical statement that more broadly encompasses what you hope to achieve together for the product and the company.
Team background or “who we are”
This section should include profiles of the members of your team, including their names, role, responsibilities, and whether they are part of the leadership group (for example, the product trio).
Listing down the members of your team and the role that they play helps inform internal stakeholders within the company about who they can ask certain questions to.
For example, if someone has a question about the kind of work the team is doing, they can locate a leadership team member by simply looking at the team charter.
Key contacts or leadership group
Flowing from the above point, it’s important that the team charter specifies which members of the team form the leadership group (or product trio) for the team. This helps identify the communication funnel and the individuals that the burden of success or failure falls on.
Other than identifying the leadership group, this section should also spell out the different types of communication methods to access the team, like email, Slack, text, etc.
This is one of the most crucial sections of your team charter and forms the yardstick for success. The team has to agree on what exactly they’re setting out to achieve and why they are doing so.
Here, the goals differ from the mission and objectives. Goals are practical work that needs to be completed successfully by the team, together, to fully realize the full value of the mission in the short and long term.
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However, it is more common for this section to be a little bit more direct in terms of the actual initiatives that feed into the goals. You don’t want to be too broad and sound eerily similar to the mission statement that starts off the document.
Ways of working
In this section, you want to collaborate, discuss, and agree with your team members on the exact methods, frameworks, and structures of work. These can be already existing or ones that you would like to put into place to help the team maximize productivity.
These discussions will cover things like workflow structure (such as full agile sprints or simple Kanban board process), occurrence and regularity of several team rituals (such as standups, retros, and more), as well as incident escalation and risk management processes.
By collaborating and agreeing with your team members on the exact methods, frameworks, and rituals moving forward, you’ll help gel the team together and get more tacit support.
Portfolio of work or what’s in scope
This part of the team charter details the ownership map of the team — the features, functions, workflows, or infrastructure of the product that your team will own.
For example, if your team is responsible for the onboarding process of your product’s users, it might make sense for your team to own the signup journey or the login pages of your product.
What’s out of scope
As is the case with any sort of work your team is committing to do, there is also an aspect of work they commit to not doing in the first place.
By having the team collaboratively discuss what’s within their wheelhouse of work and what’s not, you’ll get a clearer picture for all members of the team. It also helps narrow the focus to things that are most pertinent and important to the achievement of the mission.
Last but not least, it is good to host a discussion around the attributes each member expects from the team as they move forward — whether that be an open communication culture, transparency around issues, an expectation to resolve issues quickly, or honesty with each other when team members are stuck.
By highlighting and underlining the key core values and non-negotiables that the team expects, members will understand each other better and make sure that they all understand the ground rules of what makes a good team tick.
Team charter template
There are lots of formats you can put a team charter in, but I find it’s easier to keep it simple. To help you get started, please feel free to download the following free team charter template from Google Docs! You can make a copy to your Google account and customize it as needed.
Follow the tips above and you’ll be creating your very own team charter in no time! If you would like to see other templates that I’ve created for product managers, please feel free to visit this link to my website as well.
Featured image source: IconScout
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Ian Khor FollowProduct Manager @ Octopus Deploy | Ex-lawyer | Enthusiast of all things Agile, LEAN, JTBD, and RICE
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What are the three most important elements of a team charter? ›
- Team Purpose: A statement describing the overarching reason that the team was created.
- Goals/Objectives: High-level measurable goals the team is formed to meet.
- Team Members and their Roles: Who serves on the team and what role each person plays on the team.
- State your team's purpose. ...
- Outline the team structure. ...
- Discuss budgeting and resource strategies. ...
- Explain the project workflow. ...
- Define your version of success. ...
- Establish standard forms of communication. ...
- Set ground rules and conflict resolution steps. ...
- Review and sign off.
This is where the team charter template comes in. A team charter is a document that clearly defines the expectations, responsibilities and roles of every team member.What is most important when setting up a team charter? ›
What should go into a team charter? During the initial “chartering” session, there are several important elements that should be discussed — including why the team exists; its purpose, context, roles, procedures, workflows, and norms; and how the team members will accomplish their objectives.What are 4 benefits of creating a team charter? ›
- Ensuring buy-in from all team members.
- Holding all team members accountable.
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities within the team.
- Demonstrating the team's purpose to the rest of the organisation.
- Providing clarity and reducing confusion in cases where conflicts may arise.
A critical project document, and an output of Project Resource Management Planning, is the Team Charter. The purpose of this article is to provide a framework for developing this document, the Project Team “5 R's” – Results, Roles, Responsibilities, Relationships, and Rules.What are 5 things a charter includes? ›
What Are the Contents of a Project Charter? A project charter should always include an overview, an outline of scope, an approximate schedule, a budget estimate, anticipated risks, and key stakeholders.What are the 7 bullets to guide you in completing your team charter? ›
- Background. It maybe seem obvious, but starting with your origin helps set the tone. ...
- Mission and Objectives. ...
- Budget & Resources. ...
- Roles and Responsibilities. ...
- Team Operations. ...
- Team Member Assessment. ...
- Signatures and Approvals.
The purpose statement explains why a team exists and how its charge lines up with the organization's global goals. For example, “The purpose of the customer satisfaction improvement team is to improve customer satisfaction scores for ABC Corporation.” This simple statement provides the team with a goal.What makes a good charter statement? ›
The charter statement is best expressed in written format stating the team's intended direction. A clearly articulated team charter provides the foundation for developing goals and action plans that will assist the team in reaching its desired outcomes.
What are team charter values examples? ›
- Focus on people. ...
- Open communication. ...
- Creativity and openness to change. ...
- Willingness to learn. ...
- Passion for work. ...
- Organization. ...
- Focus on goals and results. ...
- Strong leadership.
Charter is defined as reserving a boat, bus or aircraft for personal use. An example of charter is when you rent a boat for the day. Synonyms: establish.How do I create a project charter template? ›
- State the Project Information. ...
- Define Project Team Roles & Responsibilities. ...
- Identify Project Goals and Project Objectives. ...
- Present a Business Case. ...
- Outline the Project Scope. ...
- Create a Project Timeline. ...
- Build the Project Budget. ...
- Note Key Assumptions & Constraints.
A project charter should only include three elements: your project objectives, scope, and responsibilities. Once your charter has been approved, you should then create a project plan. Your project plan builds on your project charter to provide a more in-depth blueprint of the key elements of your project.What are 3 best practices for developing a good project charter? ›
An effective project charter should include: the purpose and justification for the project, measurable objectives and success criteria, high-level requirements, descriptions, risks, milestones and schedules, and a summary budget.What are the 4 key inputs needed to develop a project charter? ›
- Contract (where applicable)
- Project statement of work.
- Enterprise environmental factors.
- Organisational process assets.
- The project statement of work (S. O. W.)
The most important part of the project charter is the objectives section. It outlines the goals of a project and clarifies what needs to be accomplished.What are the 6 sections in the team charter? ›
- An intro for context. This section is like a preface to a book. ...
- The team's mission statement. The mission states why a team exists. ...
- Goals: metrics, deliverables, and results. ...
- Scope and responsibilities. ...
- Individual team members and their roles. ...
- Collaboration and operations.
- Setting a Clear Direction. ...
- Open and Honest Communication. ...
- Support for Risk Taking and Change. ...
- Defined Roles. ...
- Mutual Accountability. ...
- Open Communication. ...
- A Common Goal. ...
- A Melting Pot of Differing Opinions.
What is a team charter. A team charter is a document defining your team's goals, roles, time frame, and boundaries. It clearly defines the mission of the team and also provides clear direction to others throughout the enterprise regarding your team's purpose.
What are the 3 types of charter? ›
Types of Charters. The three most common types of charter contracts are the voyage charter, the time charter, and the demise (or bareboat) charter.What is the charter rule? ›
In essence, the charter regulations were implemented to ensure that transit agencies, subsidized with federal money, do not unfairly compete with privately owned bus companies. Under the charter rules, with limited exceptions, local transit agencies are restricted from operating chartered services.What is a charter in strategy? ›
A charter is a way to communicate mission, vision, values, strategy, and goals. Those terms are often confused, and many of our cynical readers may be rolling their eyes as they think of Dilbert mission statement generators.What are the 7 C's to build a winning team? ›
Tannenbaum and Salas (2020) suggest that there are seven “Cs” (or drivers) of teamwork, namely: capability, cooperation, coordination, communication, cognition, coaching, and conditions.What are the four important elements of a team contract? ›
- Team Contract.
- Meeting Norms.
- Work Norms.
- Decision Making.
- 1) Patient Recruitment. ...
- 2) Clear vision and direction from leadership. ...
- 3) Partnering personalities for perfect performance. ...
- 4) Create a team value contract to facilitate more efficient communication. ...
- 5) Lead by example. ...
- 6) Recognition and training. ...
- 7) It never stops.
A team charter explicitly outlines every single member on the team, their role or title, and what their responsibilities are. That ensures everybody understands their own expectations and contributions, as well as what everybody else around them is doing.How do you write a charter statement? ›
- Purpose or Mission Statement. ...
- Type of Committee and Area of the Program. ...
- Membership. ...
- Chairperson. ...
- Activities, Duties, and Responsibilities. ...
- Delegation of Authority. ...
- Standard Committee Procedures. ...
While the formatting and presentation of a project charter may vary – from a few paragraphs to as long as 50 pages, it's often recommended to keep it short (less than 5 pages.)What basic principles does the charter reflect on? ›
The Charter contains 20 rights that reflect four basic principles of Freedom, Respect, Equality and Dignity.
What is charter roles and responsibilities? ›
A role charter is a living, breathing document that defines your roles and responsibilities within your organization. Unlike a to-do list, a role charter helps one strategically define their identity and purpose at work by analyzing some key components of the job itself.What is a good sentence for charter? ›
Noun The charter allows for unrestricted trading. Verb The city was chartered in 1837. The team chartered a plane.What is a charter of a company example? ›
A corporate charter, also known as a "charter" or "articles of incorporation," is a written document filed with the Secretary of State (or registrar in Canada) by the founders of a corporation. It details the major components of a company, such as its objectives, structure, and planned operations.What is the goal of project charter? ›
The goal of creating a project charter is to get your stakeholders to agree on why you're doing the project, what's in scope (at a high level), and who's doing what. Some organizations require a signed project charter before allocating resources, including funding, to your project.What is the difference between project plan and charter? ›
The company's stakeholders may sign off on the project charter, signifying that the scope meets the needs and expectations of the group. A project plan, also known as a work plan, outlines the project scope and objectives based on the project charter.What is the difference between project charter and proposal? ›
As mentioned above, a project proposal is a persuasive document meant to convince stakeholders why the project should be carried out. A project charter is a reference document that defines project objectives, and it can't be created until the project proposal is approved.What is project charter template? ›
A project charter template is a tool for defining project objectives, scope, and the required resources. Project managers can use a project charter template to outline the project in order to receive buy-in and approval from stakeholders.How do you plan for your team? ›
- Vision, Goals & Objectives. First things first, you need to outline the vision, goals, and objectives of the team – based on those of the organization. ...
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Now, it's time to define the KPIs. ...
- Timeframe For Achieving The Goals. ...
- Expectations and Observations.
- Get everyone on the same page. Don't be afraid to over-communicate, especially with a remote team. ...
- To meet, or not to meet, that is the question. ...
- Take advantage of channels. ...
- Be a team player, but set some ground rules. ...
- Give your team members autonomy.
- Lead by example.
- Live by your company mission and values.
- Give employees a voice.
- Act on what employees say.
- Embrace connections.
- Hire the best talent.
- Maximize employee recognition.
- Help employees reach their goals.
How do you help team members work together? ›
- Build diverse and inclusive teams.
- Clearly define roles and responsibilities for every team member.
- Build trust within the team.
- Encourage clear, frequent communication.
- Give teams autonomy in decision-making.
- Manage team meetings wisely.
- Have a common purpose. Karkoulas says that a good team must have a common purpose or goal, which must be clearly understood by all team members. ...
- Promote shared values. ...
- Enable independence. ...
- Ensure mutual accountability. ...
- Recognize success.
The most commonly used framework for a team's stages of development was developed in the mid-1960s by Bruce W. Tuckman. Although many authors have written variations and enhancements to Tuckman's work, his descriptions of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing provide a useful framework for looking at your own team.What makes a good collaborative team? ›
Kind of like marriage, any good partnership requires listening, flexibility and compromise. True collaboration means being open to suggestions, critiques and ideas from all team members, even if it means changing course. Innovation (and evolution) often stems from considering radically different perspectives.How do you make a team feel more connected? ›
- Create peer mentorship programs.
- Set up communities of practice.
- Ensure that all employees feel comfortable.
- Introduce an Employee Recognition Center.
- Keep information flowing throughout the company.
- Set up communities of interest.
- Host regular social events for employees.
- Communication: Open communication helps your team understand each other and reach better decisions. ...
- Support: An essential element of teamwork is everyone's willingness to support and nurture one another. ...
- Help: Strong teams consist of coworkers who are eager to help each other.
- Engage in meaningful (in-person) dialog.
- Show your appreciation.
- Trust your team members.
- Be spontaneous and have a little fun.