The scope of the chartering process depends on the size and nature of the team and the complexity of the work. It may vary from a day to multiple sessions over a period of time.
If team building for external projects is also to include the client , then it is customary to have an alignment session first with the internal team; then a separate session with the client team; and then bring the teams together to build their combined charter.
Team Chartering and Alignment Steps
Although the content of every alignment process will be determined by the requirements and circumstances of that team’s goals, the following outline contains a suggested list of items that must be either developed or reviewed and confirmed by the team.
Step One- Defining the team project or goals
The team should begin by reviewing its goals or requirements. The specific specifications or deliverables must be examined and discussed. Any contractual documents or client agreements also need to be shared.
At the end of this step the entire team should have a common understanding and commitment to the team’s vision and its specific goals. There should be no misunderstanding about the definition of success.
Step Two – Reviewing/confirming the team implementation strategy
There is rarely only one way to do anything. We all have preferences and ways of accomplishing our work, and these approaches are frequently different.
A strategy defines the higher level HOW work will be done; not the WHAT. Once strategies are set and agreed, they drive the lower level tactical implementation.
Successful teams typically have very specific execution strategies that govern their decisions. The strategic issues, challenges and opportunities facing the team should be surfaced at this point of the alignment process, addressed by the team, and a set of agreed upon execution strategies developed. By surfacing, asking and agreeing to the core strategies, the team will begin building a common vision of how its work will best be implemented.
Step Three– Reviewing and confirming the integrated team workplan
Implementation plans can be developed at many different levels of detail.
At the highest level, there is no real plan at all - simply a delivery date. At the lowest level, professional planners develop incredibly detailed plans showing resource allocations to the hour for thousands of people. The level of planning needed by a team falls somewhere between these two extremes.
A plan that only sets a delivery date is of little use. The requirements may be known but there is no guidance regarding what is the most important thing to do at any moment in time and no knowledge of whether the work of the team is on schedule.
Conversely, planning at the most detailed level may be important to guide work and resources on a daily basis, but it is of little value in managing the team’s work at the level required of the team leader and core team members.
The plan that should be developed by the team in the alignment process is one in which the key tasks and the integration of different components are clearly indicated. The purpose is to develop and confirm the sequence and interdependence of these tasks, as well as the schedules. This will enable the team to determine whether the resources and schedule can meet the team’s commitments. It will also ensure that the tasks and schedule are conforming to the execution strategies developed in the previous step.
Step Four – Developing the team organization and governance model
The team is responsible for developing the organization chart for its work. In addition to the organization, the governance model should be defined. What decisions will be made by the team leader alone, with other individuals, with small groups, and with the entire team? What subgroups if any are required? This is particularly essential for all the cross-discipline work elements that make for a well-integrated effort.
Step Five – Measures and controls
The next step is to identify the key measures to assess performance and progress against the team’s work deliverables. From these measures, decisions can be made about the control system needed to generate this information, the data inputting requirements and the reports – in format and level of detail – that will be most useful.
Assignment of responsibilities for providing the data, analyzing it, integrating it, creating the reports and reviewing and acting on the outputs should also be made at this time.
Step Six - Defining roles and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities are the next step., and contain several elements. The first question is: What are the team’s collective responsibilities? This is a question that often never gets asked – all the responsibilities are set at the individual level. But there are some responsibilities requiring the collective work of the team. For example, the integrated work plan and schedule belongs to the team, not to any one individual. The budget for the team’s work and the allocation of key resources may also be collective work products.
Once the collective team responsibilities have been defined, primary responsibilities for each core team member should be developed, negotiated, and agreed by the entire team. To the extent possible, measures should be established for each core responsibility.
Step Seven – Establishing operating guidelines
The operating guidelines for the work of a team can also be termed the "rules of engagement." They define how the team will work together. Some typical areas for which guidelines may be needed are:
- Meetings – who, how often, for what purpose
- Communications – what and how
- Reports – what is needed by whom and in what format
- Changes – how do we respond to internal and external changes
- Conflict – how is it resolved and how is it escalated when it cannot be resolved
- Risk management – what levels of risk should be surfaced at the team level and how should it be addressed
- Decision-making – what type of decisions are made at what levels
- Interpersonal behaviors – what are the guidelines for how team members will treat each other, the project and the client.
The operating guidelines should be discussed, agreed, written down and shared. They become the standards for how the team will work together and helps the team move rapidly to accepted norms of behavior. As the work progresses these guidelines may need to be modified or additional guidelines created. This should be a living document that is always subject to further consideration.
Step Eight – Developing the customer or client relationship model
The customer or client may be internal or external. The fundamental relationship may range from a full partnership and integrated team at one extreme to an arms length relationship at the other. The client may want to be fully engaged and informed or may prefer to know as little as possible.
Regardless of the circumstances, the team should discuss the nature of this relationship and develop its plan for working with the client. This plan should be developed with and agreed by the client to ensure both the success of the work and the success of the relationship.
Step Nine – Alignment endorsement and action planning
Once the alignment is complete it should be reviewed and endorsed by the team, the client, and the company’s management After endorsement, the team charter should be shared with all those connected to the work of the team.
The clearer the team charter, the easier it is for others to interact with the team and for the team to integrate new members quickly and efficiently.
Once complete, the aligned and endorsed charter is the team’s primary tool for leading its work.
Establishing A Team Alignment Process
Interested organizations should begin this process by sending an email to Dr. Resnick describing the nature of their organization, their team, its work, and its work scope. This request will then be reviewed and further discussions can be scheduled to determine whether an engagement would be appropriate.