When a team is sponsored by one or more persons in the leadership group, a team charter should be developed.

What is the purpose of a team charter? *

1)  to document the team’s purpose and clearly define individual roles, responsibilities, operating rules and level of authority (what’s in and what’s out, i.e. boundaries)

2)  to establish procedures for

  1. when the team will communicate to sponsors and other key stakeholders
  2. the form of that communication (ex: reports),
  3. and how decisions will be made and which stakeholders to include to     obtain their concurrence before finalizing any major decisions

Who creates the team charter? *

Charters can be developed by top management and presented to teams, or teams can create their own charters and present them to top management. Either way the top management’s endorsement of a team’s charter is a critical factor in giving the team the direction and protection it needs to succeed.

Why take the time to write a team charter? *

“When a team is started without a formal Team Charter many meetings are often wasted trying to figure “why we are here, what we should do, and when it should be done.” The team spends a considerable amount of time and energy trying to second guess what the sponsor really wanted when the team was formed. This is a loss of valuable time and talent that could be avoided by designing a clear mission statement prior to the team’s formation. That’s why a sponsor must take the time to fill out a Team Charter.” (Source: Process Excellence Network)

Common excuses for not writing a team charter: *

  • We don’t have time for that, we have work to do.
  • We know what we need to do, we don’t need a charter.
  • We’ll figure things out as we go along.
  • Team membership frequently changes, why bother?
  • Our leader has already told us what to work on.
  • We’ve been “successful” before without a team charter.
  • Many other teams don’t have a charter.


1)    What is the team purpose (desired end result)?

(a)   Describe the purpose for forming the team (what is the value of taking these people away from their typical work?)

(b)   What are the desired outcomes, the goals?  (Begin with the end in mind.)

(Ex: increase in customer satisfaction scores by 75%)

2)    What type of purpose is this?

  • Problem Solving
  • Process Improvement
  • Project Completion
  • Other:

 3)    What type of team is this?

  •  Functional Team (ex: marketing)
  • Cross-Functional Team (ex: representatives from various functions such as engineering, sales, manufacturing, and customer service)
  • Other:

4)    Deliverables

 This section defines the expected outputs from the team. It should include Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that measure the intended success. By considering the KPIs at this stage, immeasurable deliverables are eliminated early. The deliverables should include the documents, the desired behaviors, and a long-term auditing process that verifies the deliverables are in place.

5)    Scope & Time Commitment 

a)     What’s in the team’s authority to address and what is not? (Ex: the team can address customer satisfaction and the process the organization uses to address customer satisfaction but not which customers we will be pursuing with our product/service.)

b)     What is the duration in which the team will be expected to accomplish their purpose? (Ex: 3 months)

c)      What is the estimated amount of time weekly/monthly that the team will dedicate to this project? (Ex: 3 hrs./week)

Note: This should minimize “scope creep” where the team takes on more than what they were chartered to do. 


6)    Executive Sponsor

Identifies the senior leader that supports and/or initiated this effort. Designated by the leadership team to hold overall responsibility for the strategy and its execution.  The Executive Sponsor will be expected to break down barriers and “go to bat” for the team.


 7)    Team Leader

Identifies one individual who will guide the team to achieve successful outcomes and who will communicate to senior leaders. This Establishes who will conduct team meetings, provide focus and direction, and will ensure productive use of team member’s time. This person is not necessarily the same individual who will be “in charge” of the process, but should be a person who will “lose sleep” over the outcome. 


 8)    Team Facilitator

 The team facilitator moves a team forward through a series of scheduled meetings aimed at attaining the goal established by the team and team leader.  Quality facilitators use observation, intervention, feedback, coaching, and team member personality differences to conduct effective meetings.  Quality facilitators are not subject matter experts, but rather focus on how effectively the team is working. Their role is to guide, not direct.


 9)    Team Members

The team leader and members should be listed individually. This provides clarity and recognition as well as enhances commitment.  Indicate who are core [essential] members versus support or advisory members and full or part time designation.   Ensure that all the people necessary to effect change will be involved. 


10)  Team Member Roles & Responsibilities

Identify roles and responsibilities of each team member.  List member name, organization, and contact information including telephone, email address, and team role if designated already.  Also identify specific functional level of expertise associated with each member. 


 11)  Supporting Resources

Identify the supporting resources such as people who were not assigned as team members but still add value toward the overall purpose such as known Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in specific fields.  Other resources are dependent on the team activities (blue prints, meeting rooms, travel budgets, corporate authority, software, etc.)


 12)  Linkages to Other Departments or Initiatives

 This section considers other departments or organizational initiatives that may have overlap with the group’s purpose. 


 13)  Team Empowerment

Define existing authority the team, by virtue of its individual membership, already possesses, additional authority needed to fully perform as envisioned by the team objectives, and level of empowerment requested. 


14)  Team operations

Describe the team’s operational plans. This includes, for example, such activities as the team’s decision-making processes, how changes in membership occur should the need arise, plans to establish “ground” or operating rules, relationships with other organizational entities or teams, logistical support, etc.

Possible guidelines for consideration might be:

  1. Code of conduct and safe environment
  2. Meeting guidelines
  3. Decision making guidelines
  4. Conflict resolution process
  5. Workload distribution
  6. Internal and external communications
  7. Team additions/terminations.

15)  Team Performance Assessment

Document key areas of performance needed for team success along with means of measuring progress.


 16)  Major Milestones and Schedules

Include major milestones forecasted along with associated timeframes and schedule. 


 17)  Reporting Plan 

This defines how the team will communicate progress. The team usually has a higher authority that they answer to and it is important to report how the team activities are going and what hurdles the team is facing. The reporting plan should establish the frequency of reporting as well as content.


 18)  Team Member Signatures

Each team member signs, agreeing to the contents and to being held mutually accountable. 


19)  Leadership Signatures 

Individuals authorized to approve the team charter, including granting the authorities above, sign here with their approval. 














Rita SterlingTeam Charter