Last week in Two Powerful Tools from One Powerful Leader, we described how visionary leader Kathy Broadwater utilized virtual departments to get work done at the Maryland Port Authority.
This week, we’re sharing her approach to solidifying those virtual departments by creating a specific charter or compact to ensure that everyone is clear about the goals and deliverables, how the work will be done and who will do it, and to formalize the commitment to being a part of this unique “department.”
To create an effective charter or compact, Kathy suggests specifically designating the staff functions that will drive success and having everyone involved sign the document to indicate their commitment.
Some of the things she’s used in charters over the years include:
- An Issue Statement
- Identification of a Steering / Oversight Committee
- Team Leader
- Team Members
- Timeframe with specific dates and milestones
- Meeting frequency
- Decision making authority
- Resources available
- Reporting requirements
Other leaders we’ve known who have used charters and compacts have also included:
- How the group will work together
- Communication expectations
- Values and behavioral commitments
- How disagreements will be handled
- What will happen if a member of the department is not meeting their commitment
As you can see, the best charters provide structure and clarity as the department moves forward. This is particularly important in a virtual department because you can be assured that the department members will have a considerable number of other commitments demanding their time.
We believe the idea of creating a time limited – or in Kathy’s case, occasionally ongoing – virtual department can be a brilliant solution when an organization is facing limits in resources, needs a functioning department for a specific objective or time period, or has a breadth of expertise internally that when configured in new ways can get results on an organizational challenge or initiative.
While we frequently hear about virtual teams that emerge as a result of physical distance, this idea of virtual departments of people who work in the same location that come together for the good of the organization is a new one to us, and one that we really believe you should know about.
Let us know your thoughts.