In most organisations, there are usually one or two employees who are perceived to be more valuable because they have in-depth knowledge of the company’s product or service offering.  These same individuals, however, may often struggle to collaborate and communicate effectively with their own team members.

Does this sound familiar?  Do you find yourself coming to their defence and occasionally saying things like “That’s just the way they are,” or “They don’t mean anything by it.”?

The result of these actions may be catastrophic.  You may be left in the aftermath of cleaning up the mess of a bullying complaint, a business-critical customer walking away or high value employees leaving.

In today’s post, we look at teams within the workplace, and how to build a team charter that will result in team member satisfaction, high performance and subsequently results.

The What vs The How

Managing performance by only concentrating on WHAT is being done sits firmly into the old school industrialised management mindset of worker and manager. Where the employee is given set tasks to complete within a designated timeframe and is monitored closely.

By shifting your focus to the HOW, employees are empowered and become self-motivated to succeed.  They feel like part of a team valued, trusted, understood, appreciated and like they belong.

If you want the teams in your organisation to achieve the desired results it is imperative to focus not only on the WHAT but also the HOW.

WHAT and HOW are equally important to high performance.

Why focusing on the HOW matters

After speaking with many business leaders, a commonality emerges — most have experience with an employee who is a single point of dependency within their organisation. Other team members can be found tiptoeing around this individual who is highly task oriented with limited or no people skills.

Business leaders become very frustrated. The leaders find themselves rewarding the individual employee for their performance as the previously set targets continue to be met, but at the same time these same business leaders are required to constantly manage a series of ever emerging conflicts in the hope they do not escalate.

If you find yourself only managing your employee’s performance in terms of WHAT is being delivered, then you are accepting that HOW they achieve the results doesn’t matter.

This can result in a Gordon Gekko “Greed is Good” toxic culture. At its best you end up with an employee who is valuable for their technical knowledge and expertise and who delivers the desired result at any cost – the WHAT. But at its worst, the failure to focus on the HOW, the behaviour which goes unchecked results in low employee retention and morale, and high absenteeism and attrition, and ultimately a company that fails to attract talented individuals.

The benefits of a team charter

Building a Team Charter

Setting the behavioural standards for the organisation is an essential first step in gaining a common understanding that the HOW results are achieved matters. At the highest level, this is achieved through company values, but you can also take this a step further, and gain more buy-in, by creating a simple team charter.

Team charters are frequently used in project-based teams that are established for a set duration.  However, team charters can also be a useful tool for any organisation that wants to set the right behavioural expectations for team members across the organisation on a more permanent, ongoing basis.

Here are six steps to help you get started on your team charter:

1:  Explain to your team that you want to create a team charter which is an agreement on how we as individuals within a group will work together, what are the individual and group roles, and what we do when problems or conflicts arise.

  1. Set a time to workshop as a team using word examples – such as openness, accountability, fun — as prompts to determine what is most important to the team.
  2. Break out into smaller groups to reprioritise the words and start to consider definitions and examples of behaviours that underpin it. For example, if openness is important, that could be demonstrated as “we share our ideas and concerns with each other individually, and at our team meetings”.
  3. Combine everything into one document and discuss. What should stay? What should go?
  4. With the final draft have everyone rate how they think the team is performing on each behaviour today. Discuss what needs to happen to improve the behaviours.
  5. Use these charters for every team meeting, and review and update the charter as a group as often as necessary.

And remember always recognise and reward those team members who demonstrate the right behaviours as detailed in the team charter.

Why does a team charter work?

As humans, we have an innate psychological need for competence, autonomy and achievement. Consider how 2-year-olds want to show “I can do it” even when there are no external rewards. It is for this reason that top-down approaches to goal setting, especially around behaviour expectations, are unlikely to succeed.

Being able to have input into your work and setting a common understanding of behaviours that you want as a team, meets this psychological need and encourages engagement which drives performance. It also enables team members to have greater clarity on their role and contribution in the team and empowers them to appropriately call-out poor behaviours.

Examples of Team Charters

Example 1:

As a team we will:

  • Be proactive and positive
  • Keep other team members informed
  • Focus on what is best for the team as a whole
  • Be respectful, fair, and honest in all communications
  • Encourage opinions and discussion from all members

Example 2:

As a team we commit to:

  • Being open to new approaches and listen to new ideas
  • Looking at conflict and change positively
  • Working together to achieve maximum results
  • Celebrating accomplishments and milestones

Example 3:

Our team believes in:

  • Sharing our individual plans and priorities with each other
  • Being consistent in communication and responsive
  • Listening, giving and receiving feedback with positive intent
  • Recognising the great contributions our team members make

The result is a high performing team

Once you have your team charter, use this to reward and recognise the HOW. As a team you have agreed the expectations for behaviour, so if you have team members who are not behaving in line with the charter it may be time to consider performance management, even if the WHAT is still being achieved.

Interested in attracting, growing, and retaining high-performing employees dedicated to your business’s success?

Our Find Grow Keep operating system helps you build high performing teams. Discover your Find Grow Keep score and receive a customised report here:


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