The highest-performing teams know their purpose. If you ask each person separately to state the team’s mission, each of them would give the same answer.
A team charter is a simple, one- to two-page document created by the group that summarizes its aims, goals and operating principles. Above all, it addresses the question, “Why does this team exist and what will it achieve?”
Think of a charter as a written job description that’s tailored for a team rather than an individual. It can consist of a bulleted list of points that specifies the group’s objectives, its time frame for achieving them and the ground rules everyone must follow in pursuing those goals.
In instructing a newly formed team to develop its charter, provide an overview of key challenges facing the organization and your rationale for convening the group. Welcome questions and engage in a lively give-and-take so that everyone understands his or her role and the team’s larger purpose.
Then ask the participants to write a charter that encapsulates—and expands on—what you’ve just discussed. Mutually agree on a deadline for them to submit their first draft to you—and promise to provide quick feedback.
Through this iterative process, the group not only clarifies its identity and commits to achieving well-defined objectives but also gets a chance to gel as a unit. Drafting a charter requires participants to assign tasks to each other (scribe, facilitator, etc.) and cooperate as they craft a coherent mission statement.
Once you approve the charter, the team can proceed with a clear sense of self-guided direction. They can police themselves more easily and prevent dominant personalities from monopolizing the meetings. They are also better positioned to shut down team members who allow personal biases or hidden agendas to interfere with the group’s greater good.
Salespeople know that rejection hurts. But even if you don’t manage salespeople, invite employees to share instances when they sought to persuade someone and failed. Allot a few minutes in staff meetings for workers to tell “rejection stories” relating to their jobs (such as a request that a vendor refused to honor). This exercise can prove a powerful bonding experience and breed a more supportive environment.