The Team Mandate – or Team Charter – is a very effective way of aligning the team around the concrete and specific obligations of the collective. Would you imagine a high-performance sports team where players – e.g. in soccer – are in doubt about role, objectives and success criteria?
Often at the kick-off of a new team in the work environment, there’s lots of energy and excitement - all about aspects of the team-work and expectations of all team members.
The team mandate is a very effective way of consolidating the launch process into a more formal agreement, which shall then provide the foundation for all stakeholder expectations, team autonomy and vision, and subsequently for individual team-members contributions.
It’s a cornerstone for the team’s performance and helps accelerate the teams progress through the Traction Phase of the Team Alchemy Life Cycle.
In former times, when companies were usually governed through traditional hierarchies, a team mandate was handed down from “above” – from a functional superior such as a department head, or perhaps even from the senior leadership.
However, the governance structure is changing rapidly and teams are not necessarily a top/down resource allocation.
Frequently these days the kickoff is an initiative developed across several functions. And more and more with ad hoc staff supporting in the form of customers, suppliers or even authorities.
It makes even more sense in these new business structures – e.g. labeled “Network of Teams” – to invest in a properly documented description of the following:
The what and the why – the “what” in terms of the problem or opportunity, and the “why” in in terms of importance.
Identifying key stakeholders and their perceived or – preferably – agreed needs and concerns.
The Team’s Mission and Objectives. Effectively split in stage-gates, so a monitoring mechanism can be defined.
Composition and Roles. Showing a shared understanding of the strengths and relevance of each team member.
Authority and Boundaries. Mundane and boring stuff such as budgets, autonomy and reporting obligations.
Once the team mandate is consolidated, aligned and committed, other teams and senior leadership has the right kind of understanding, and shall be much clearer and more confidant on relevance and capacity allocation needed.
Even the usual functional teams – the finance team, the sales team etc. will benefit from drafting and aligning their team mandate with other teams.
Not only are their roles changing continuously, but their key stake-holder’s expectations are also changing.
Formalizing a team mandate is a good reason to reach out to all stakeholders, and have a conversation on needs and expectations – setting parameters for future collaboration and interdependencies.
Sometimes we hear of team leads becoming a little frustrated over completing a team mandate – it’s seen as a bureaucratic activity. They would rather be pressing on with all the important stuff the team is keen to take care of.
Unfortunately experience tells us that a missing team mandate is one of the common characteristics of a “honeymoon team”. This is the team that sets out with lots of energy and high spirits, but after a while loses energy and slows down both in performance and process.