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How to Create a Winning Team Charter (+ Template)

How to Create a Winning Team Charter (+ Template)

Having a great team is essential for achieving outstanding results. While individual talent and expertise play a crucial role, harnessing the collective power of a team requires a shared purpose, clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish, and a mutual responsibility to achieve a common goal. That's where a team charter comes into play.

In this blog, we'll delve into team charters, exploring what they are, why they’re important, and how to create a charter for your own team. We'll also provide you with a team charter template so that you can collaborate with your team to create a foundational document that provides clarity and collective ownership for the team’s success.


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What Is A Team Charter and Why Is It Important?

A team charter is a guiding document that outlines a team's purpose, goals, roles, responsibilities, and expectations for its operation. It’s foundational to a team’s success as it establishes a shared understanding across a team to enhance clarity, focus, collaboration, and accountability

Creating a team charter is important as it is a valuable reference that team members use to make decisions, stay aligned, and focus on achieving the team’s objective. It’s an agreement created by team members that clearly defines what they’re trying to accomplish and the expectations and accountabilities for everyone involved to get them there. 

Team Charter Definition


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How To Write a Team Charter

Whether leading a newly formed team or looking to revamp an existing one, having a well-crafted team charter can be the key to capitalizing on your team's true potential. You’ll want to have it robust enough that it covers the key factors but is condensed into a single-page document for easy reference.

Creating a team charter should be a collaborative process involving all team members in its conception. When individuals are involved, they’re more likely to remain committed to what they help establish versus when the leader forms a team charter without their input. 

When writing a team charter, these four critical areas need to be addressed: 

  • Purpose and vision
  • Values and expectations
  • Goals and milestones
  • Roles and accountabilities 


1. Team Purpose and Vision

Establishing a clear team vision and purpose is vital for success. Think of it as your team’s north star, which provides a shared sense of direction and motivation. However, to be powerful, it needs to be clear, short, and realistic and address these points below.

  • Purpose: Your team charter must answer the question, “Why do we do what we do?” It needs to describe the meaningful impact the team aims to make.
  • Vision: A team’s vision is a compelling statement that paints a clear picture of what the team is trying to achieve. It should be a long-term aspiration that is inspiring, motivating, and easy to understand for everyone inside or outside the team.


2. Team Values and Expectations

When you clearly define team values and expectations, how individuals behave and show up isn’t left to chance. Team values and expectations form the foundation of a positive team culture, as it is abundantly clear what is expected and what won’t be tolerated. Furthermore, because the team has created the values and expectations, they will be more likely to demonstrate positive behaviors and correct their teammates when they fall short of expectations.

Team Values
Your team values are principles that guide your team’s actions and behaviors and will be the foundation from which your team’s culture will form. These values serve as a framework for how team members interact with each other, approach their work, and engage with the larger organization and stakeholders. It is a compass that influences team members' priorities, behaviors, and attitudes. To help get you started, here are a few examples of common team values: 

  • Respect and safety: Everyone is free to share their ideas, opinions, thoughts, and challenges without fear of ridicule from others.
  • Innovation and change: We embrace change, new ideas, and uncovering ways to continually improve.
  • Debate: We are willing to challenge each other's assumptions, decisions, and ideas to achieve our collective goals
  • Support: We will support each other and not let a teammate fail to meet their accountabilities.
  • Focus: Achieving our vision and goals is our central mission.
  • Collaboration: We win when we work together, communicate frequently, and leverage each other’s strengths.

If you’re looking for ideas to create your team values, check out the 110 words to describe company culture, which can help prompt conversations on what your team truly values.

110 Words to Describe Your Company Culture


Team Expectations
To establish team expectations, take your team values and put them into concrete behaviors. Team expectations are clear standards that define what is required from each team member to create the right environment where high performance can thrive. Here are a few examples of team expectations to help you get started:

  • Collaboration:
    • 24-hour response time to team member's emails and messages
    • Actively engage and participate in meetings and discussions
    • Share relevant information and status updates
    • Actively listen to team members
    • Respect different ideas, perspectives, and opinions

  • Respect:
    • Speak with kindness, respect, and professionalism
    • Approach conflict respectively and as an opportunity to learn and come to a mutually agreeable resolution
    • Ensure everyone has a chance to participate, contribute, and be heard

  • Dependability:
    • Arrive to meetings on time and prepared
    • Tasks and accountabilities completed within the agreed-upon timeframe
    • Allow ample time to notify team members if an accountability cannot be met


3. Team Goals and Milestones

Team goals and milestones are where you bring your vision and purpose to reality by creating concrete targets and timelines for team achievement. Your team goals should follow the SMART goals framework to help focus the team’s efforts and increase the likelihood of achieving goals.

You will want to break goals down into milestones, which are smaller, measurable targets that are checkpoints along the way to achieving the larger goal. These milestones will help the team track progress, provide small wins and motivation, and allow for reflection and adjustments. Each milestone needs to be specific on the outcome, deliverables, and timeline for achievement. And don’t forget to celebrate each milestone as they’re achieved!


4. Team Roles and Accountabilities

The last section is to outline each individual’s role on the team and their personal commitment to owning their specific accountabilities. Use this time to discuss each person’s strengths and how their roles are interdependent and reliant on each other. It’s also an ideal time to discuss the consequences to the team when someone falls short on their accountabilities and how they will support each other so that does not happen.


Team Charter Template

Team Charter Template Niagara InstituteReady to create a team charter of your own? Our free Team Charter Template is thoughtfully crafted to help you simplify and speed up the process of creating a charter for your own team. You’ll find a structured framework and prompts to help you facilitate a team discussion on your purpose, vision, values, expectations, goals, milestones, roles, and accountabilities. In addition, it’s an editable document, so you can fill in the details and customize it to your unique needs.

The Team Culture Toolkit Conains Resources That Will Help You Understand Where Your Culture Is Today and What You Want It to Be

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