5 Ways To Know Your Team Needs a Charter
Here at Brilliant Ink, we talk a lot about trends. And why shouldn’t we?
As an agency, we have the unique privilege of working on dozens of employee communications and engagement projects at any given time. Our clients rely on us to help solve their most pressing communications challenges and as such, we’re able to spot themes, best practices and watch outs as they happen and counsel our clients accordingly.
However, as much as we love a good trend, some internal communications practices are truly foundational and timeless, such as the need for team charters.
What Is a Communications Team Charter?
In simple terms, a charter is a governance document that outlines what your team does, how it operates and the value it brings to your organization. Charters typically include all or most of the following components:
- Team Purpose: Your team’s purpose statement explains why your team exists, who/what it supports and the value it brings to the organization.
- Scope: The scope outlines what your team does and – equally important – what your team does not do. This helps set clear expectations for your team and stakeholders it serves.
- Roles and Responsibilities: The charter clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of your team, either as a collective or broken down into specific member roles.
- Stakeholders: It’s important to identify the stakeholders who will either partner with or benefit from the work your team does, to effectively plan what tools and resources are needed.
- Operational Guidelines: Operational guidelines outline how your team will communicate and collaborate with each other and with stakeholders. This section of the charter can outline preferred communication channels, meeting schedules, decision-making processes, and conflict-resolution procedures. It’s crucial in promoting effective teamwork and setting expectations for how team members should interact and collaborate.
- Resources and Tools: The charter may specify resources, tools, and support available to your team and its stakeholders (e.g., collaboration tools, brand center, support request forms).
- Metrics: Charters may include a measurement section to define what success looks like. Expected outcomes and/or key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to evaluate your team's progress.
👉 Ready to create your own charter? Download our guide today!
As a human who loves organization and structure, developing a charter brings me a great deal of satisfaction. But I assure you that beyond the good feels, there is plenty of value in creating a charter for your internal communications team.
Here are five scenarios where having a charter can be a real game-changer.
1. You Have a New Team
Congratulations, your company has invested in internal communications, and you finally have the team you’ve always dreamed of! Now what?
Establishing a team charter should be one of the first things you do as a new internal communications function. It helps you collectively define your team’s purpose, create clarity around roles, set expectations around the team’s scope, and agree on ways of working.
What’s more, your team charter serves as an invaluable onboarding tool when new members join – it’s the playbook we all wish we had on day one.
2. Your Team Has Experienced Significant Growth or Reduction
Your team charter is a living document that needs to be reviewed and updated as objectives evolve and situations change. If your IC team is expanding or shrinking, your charter can help redefine and realign goals, priorities, roles and responsibilities.
It can also help address any confusion or conflict that may arise during the restructuring process and help stakeholders understand what they can expect from your team (i.e., what’s changing) during the transition period.
3. Your Team Operates in Silos
If productivity, efficiency and a clear line of sight are on the decline because your team is working in a vacuum, a team charter will help define operating principles to get you back on track. Consider including elements that create consistency across the team, such as guidelines for brand voice and tone, messaging standards, communications channel strategy, approval processes, knowledge-sharing protocols and/or file storage instruction.
💡 PRO TIP: When standard operating procedures are clearly defined, teams function more fluently and produce better outputs.
4. You Have No Time To Be Strategic or Proactive
It’s not unusual for IC teams to live below the surface. Often acting as a shared service, IC teams run the risk of being on call for… well, everything. From crisis communications to executive presentations to social graphics and that “quick communication” that needs to be turned around in an hour, our plates aren’t just full, they’re spilling over. If you find your team living in a reactive frenzy, it’s time to pump the brakes and figure out how to pivot.
One of my favorite parts of leading charter workshops with clients is the moment of recognition when they see their full scope written out in front of them. It’s hard to track all the things/requests/deliverables that an IC team handles on a day-to-day basis but when eyes land on the exhaustive laundry list, it’s hard to ignore.
As part of your charter exercise, go through each item to determine if it aligns with your team’s purpose statement. If it does, great – keep doing it! If it doesn’t, it’s time to figure out an alternate plan. That might mean adhering to an intake process, developing self-service tools, coaching leaders or something completely unique to your organization.
5. Resources? What Resources?
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having limited-to-no budget, it may be time to assess the perceived value of internal communications in your organization. When leadership doesn’t recognize the value that IC teams bring to the business, budgets get pinched or worse, cut altogether.
Creating a charter with your team can help you pinpoint the value you’re bringing to different stakeholders and the broader organization. It may also surface opportunities to optimize your team’s value by reallocating work that doesn’t align with your team’s purpose (see #4 above).
Once your shiny new charter is ready for the world to see, it can be used as an educational tool to showcase the team’s value and teach leaders how to effectively engage with your team. When the IC team is focused on business priorities, everyone wins!
These are just a few scenarios we often see for our clients in which having a charter for the internal communications team can prove invaluable. Through the process of creating a charter, teams uncover insights, opportunities, and yes, surprises too. The result is a governance document that empowers internal communications teams to focus on business priorities, work efficiently, manage expectations and deliver quality results.
Need a hand developing your team charter (and getting your stakeholders aligned)? We’ve got you! Drop us a line, and we’ll let you know how we can help.