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The Quick Guide to Team Charters (+Examples)

Team charter in Miro

Regardless of your organization’s size, working as part of a team is both tricky and rewarding. Everyone on the team brings their own skill sets, experiences, strengths, and challenges — which can foster collaboration or introduce obstacles. You’re expected to juggle numerous projects together, progress quickly, and move with agility. And while you all share the same goals, your individual objectives might differ. How does everyone stay on the same page?

It’s especially challenging in today’s workplace, where teams made up of employees working remotely or partially remotely, in different time zones, and across different office hubs need to stay aligned. Your team may be working asynchronously, but you want to make sure you’re producing synchronously. It’s not easy!

A team charter can help bring everyone together and concretize your goals. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics: what a team charter is, how to create one, and some examples to motivate and inspire you.

What is a team charter?

A team charter is a living document that serves as a North Star for a team or project. It articulates your team’s mission, scope of operation, objectives, and commitment. For a project, it can also spell out a timeframe and its consequences. The most effective team charters detail a team’s focus, direction, and boundaries. It reduces confusion, duplication, and repetition.

When to make a team charter

If you’ve been working together for a while, you might think you don’t need a team charter. After all, you already know your team goals. But what if your perception of those goals is slightly different from your teammates'? How can you capture everyone’s idea of what the team can — and should — strive to be? The defining feature of a team charter is that everyone contributes to its creation. Having a team charter ensures that every member of the team buys into the contents of the charter.

A top-down team charter created by management or by a few members simply isn’t going to work. The purpose of the charter is to get everyone aligned and committed. Without everyone’s input, that isn’t possible.

One of the great things about a team charter is that you can define “team” however you want. Let’s say you’re a content writer on the marketing team. You can create a team charter with the content team, the broader marketing team, or the entire org. It all depends on what you need and what you want to achieve.

As employees join and leave the company, it’s important to revisit the team charter periodically. Remember, it’s a living document. That means you should let it grow and change organically with your organization.

How to make a team charter

Making a charter for your team is a fun, collaborative process. Start by using the Team Charter Template as a canvas on which to create your own.

Once you have a place to collaborate with your team on your charter, here’s how to move through the exercise in five easy steps:

1) Start with the context. Who is the team leader? What should key stakeholders expect from this team? What does each contributor bring to the team? What are their individual expectations? Have everyone on the team write out their answers to these questions.

2) Define your vision and objectives. What does success look like for your team? In an ideal world, what would you accomplish? How are you working to support the rest of the org? Create a succinct mission statement that outlines what you hope to achieve.

3) Create deadlines, goals, and milestones that map back to the mission statement. Define roles and responsibilities. Who is doing what? For whom? What does each team member need to achieve their goal?

4) Lay out your checks and balances. To create an effective team charter, you have to balance the aspirational with the tangible. The aspirational part of the charter is the mission statement and the vision. But it’s just as crucial to measure your progress toward your goals. Your charter should lay out the internal checks and balances that will ensure you’re reviewing everyone’s progress. How will you check in? When or how often? How will you measure success?

5) Have everyone on the team sign off on the charter. Many teams like to print it out and ask teammates to physically sign the paper, to symbolize their commitment.

Examples to get you started

There are many ways to create and structure your team charter. Here are a few examples of team charter templates you can use to create the ultimate team canvas:

Example 1: The Miro Team Charter

Get started on all the steps we outlined above with this Team Charter Template. Once you've filled it out with your team on a Miro board, you can deepen it by adding to it over time — and can even use the board as a one-stop destination for team-building activities. Check out some of our favorite templates below as inspiration for more board possibilities within Miro!

Example 2: The Team Canvas by Alex Ivanov

Not only do we love Alex Ivanov's team canvas board, we also love the fact that he details how to run a workshop with your team to fill it out.

Example 3: Team Norms + Personal Profiles by Danny Carvajal

Team norms are crucial to define, especially when your team is remote or distributed. Danny Carvajal shows you how to do just that with this team norms template in Miroverse. The best part? It comes complete with a tutorial on how to lead this activity as a workshop with your team.

Example 4: Team Work Canvas

Add a section to your team charter board to identify principles and practices for how you work across common operating themes. This Miroverse template by BetterWork will walk you through how to reflect on, and define, how you work as a team.

Need more team-building inspiration? Browse templates in Miroverse.

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