The five definitive steps towards creating an effective team charter
You’re in a never-ending meeting. Other team members are monopolising the airtime. No one’s making any decisions, and you can feel the frustration building. Your team could use a charter.
A team charter will clarify expectations and collective accountability. Particularly if the team works together to identify the things that matter. In my view, people don’t come to work to do a crap job. And yet, too many organisations are staffed by quiet quitters who coast along doing the bare minimum they can get away with. This can be hugely demoralising for anyone who wants to make an impact and do good work.
To scale your business in 2023, you need the right company culture. And this is dependent on the cultures of all your teams rolled into one. Invest some time in getting a few things crystal clear in people’s minds. What should you focus on? Based on my experience coaching Executive Teams, here are some definitive steps towards creating a team charter.
1. Work on mutual understanding
An excellent place to start is getting everyone to understand each other’s differences. You can’t assume that people will grasp this automatically. Most of us get up in the morning and expect everyone else to be the same. By lunchtime, we realise idiots surround us! Building mutual understanding needs deliberate focus.
When working with teams, we get each member to do Patrick Lencioni’s ‘Working Genius’ tool. Then, armed with these profiles, they write their ‘love/loathe’ list, i.e. all the good and bad sides of their role. We did this with a sales leadership team recently and got them to link their love/loathes back to their Working Genius profile. Three of them said, ‘We hate Excel spreadsheets!’ Another member of the team said the opposite – he loved Excel. They’d been working together, doing the same job for years and never realised this difference. So they agreed to swap tasks around based on who would be best suited to do them.
2. Agree on some team metrics
Once you’ve profiled everyone on the team, open up a collective discussion of the metrics you will track. How is this team going to measure success?
Individual scorecards are one thing. By all means, share that data so there’s transparency around who’s performing and who isn’t. But as a team, what’s the one thing you’re measuring? So that, when push comes to shove, you’re prepared to give some time and effort to support someone else for the whole team to be successful.
When you’re doing job scorecards, get the team to agree on the KPIs. They need to decide the benchmarks for good and great. This will give them greater ownership and investment in success.
3. Include rules around meetings
Have you ever wasted your time in a shit meeting? I’ve never asked this question without a big show of hands going up around the room. Part of your team charter needs to set some rules around meetings.
Again, this should be decided collectively. I like to use a nifty coaching tool called ‘1, 2, 4 All’ to facilitate this in client teams. It allows everyone to contribute, including introverts. Get the team together and ask them to visualise the perfect meetings. Then each person writes down the five things that would have to be true to design this ideal meeting.
Everyone does this as an individual (1). Then they partner up with someone else (2) and get their combined list down to a top five. Following this, they team up with another partnership (4) and, once again, whittle down their 10 points to five. Finally, the groups of four present their list to the group (All). And everyone agrees on a final consolidated list of five.
We did this with a client’s team the other day – it took only 20 minutes. Their final top five included having an agenda that’s agreed in the meeting, identifying team roles (such as timekeeper and notetaker) and timeliness. At my request, they also added scoring for each session. I strongly advise all my clients to do this so that they can check that their meetings are meeting expectations and constantly improving.
4. Agree on team behaviours
Maybe you’re in a team that already has core values. Then you might have a list of expected behaviours that comes down from on high. But equally, you might want to agree on your behaviours within your team. Again, you could use the ‘1, 2, 4 All’ exercise to work out all the positive behaviours you will reward and the negative ones you’ll punish. These can still sit within the overall values and purpose of the company.
Within teams, you’ll often have specific, tactical behaviour needed to solve something. Or something might not be working so well and require a different approach. It’s helpful to work these things out and how you will behave as a team around them.
As part of this, work on your team’s meeting rhythm. As well as committing to daily huddles, consider Monday team meetings and opportunities on a Friday to celebrate. These are all part of the rituals that bind teams together.
5. Build psychological safety
Psychological safety is essential to healthy team dynamics, and your team charter needs to identify ways to build it. You might already have trust in your team or need to work on this. And this aspect of team dynamics needs leadership – it will be hard to fix without a strong steer from the top. Team leaders need to walk the walk. If they’re personally casual with their commitments, they can’t expect anyone else to be different.
Agree on how you’re going to give and receive feedback. Just carving space to give feedback constructively can do so much for psychological safety. This, along with the Working Genius exercise mentioned earlier, will help define roles and responsibilities too. You can work together to identify the things that drive you mad and how you will support each other when you can’t do much about these things. It’s in these tricky moments that a strong team dynamic pays dividends.
- NAVIGATING AND COMMUNICATING CHANGE
- BUILDING COMPANY CULTURE
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITIES
- ORGANISING YOUR A-TEAM