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7 min read

All aboard! How to write your team manifesto

A team manifesto fosters transparent communication, open collaboration governance, and effective document management. Start your team’s manifesto today.
From Team '23

Tempo Team

As leaders strive to build high-performing teams, they often face challenges: low motivation, conflicts between team members, and difficulty aligning with company goals. There’s pressure to deliver results quickly and efficiently, leaving little time to figure out the best approach to building a solid team.

Fortunately, one powerful tool addresses these issues to bring about a positive change: the team manifesto. 

Whether you’re starting a new project or struggling with an existing team dynamic, this goal-setting approach can transform your team into a cohesive unit that achieves remarkable results. We’ll explore why you need a team manifesto and how you can create one. 

What is a team manifesto, and what are its benefits?

A team manifesto is a written statement that defines what your team stands for and aims to achieve. It outlines your team’s vision, values, and principles. Think of it as a roadmap helping every team member understand and commit to the vision.

A team manifesto has many benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Shared vision and goals: A manifesto ensures all team members are aligned with the team’s objectives, fostering a unified direction.

  • Enhanced team culture: A manifesto helps build a cohesive and positive team culture by clearly defining values and principles.

  • Guidance during change: The manifesto provides direction during change or uncertainty. It reminds the team of their shared destination.

  • Improved engagement: When team members understand and believe in the team’s mission, they’re more engaged and motivated.

  • Principled decision-making: A manifesto is a benchmark for decision-making, ensuring choices align with the team’s core values and long-term goals.

How to develop a team manifesto

Creating an effective team manifesto involves several key steps. This structured approach ensures you develop a comprehensive manifesto that supports your team.

Define the purpose 

A team manifesto should start by declaring the team’s collaborative aims. This declaration should list previous pain points you hope to resolve and outline how the team will work together to challenge the status quo and increase productivity. Goals could range from improving team alignment to fostering a more robust team culture.

The problem-and-resolution format of this declaration should draw from actual incidents in current and past projects. Every team has tales of corrupted documents, versioning issues, and email woes. Explain how your new collaboration method will encourage successful project delivery.

Consult your team

Engage team members from every discipline in the creation process to ensure the manifesto reflects their collective experiences and gains broad acceptance. Gather insights and ideas from workshops, surveys, and retrospective meetings.

You need a collaborative culture before you can successfully implement change. That means allowing everyone to contribute and speak their mind.

Identify core values and principles

Together, identify the ethos that will guide your team. This should reflect the team’s values and the behaviors you wish to encourage. Examples include transparency, accountability, and innovation. A team manifesto presents an opportunity to set (or, in some cases, reset) your team’s collaborative culture.

Your manifesto can chart some or all of the following cultural aims:

  • Foster open and constructive dialog without fear of reprisal, encouraging questions about the project and organizational direction

  • Focus decisions on the best interest of the project, not the individual

  • Openly share technical and business knowledge

  • Approach project management as a team activity, not just an individual’s role

Define the vision and goals

Clearly articulate the team’s long-term vision and specific goals. Ensure these are aspirational yet achievable, providing direction and motivation for team members.

Your manifesto also needs to focus on the team’s collaboration goals. With every member of your team working together, their efforts can follow the collaborative hierarchy of needs: project, then team, then team members.

This hierarchy of collaboration strengthens the project team. Team members have a louder voice and more opportunities to learn from others. Each gains a share of project management responsibility. Remember to include what team members can expect from their leadership regarding collaboration.

Draft the manifesto

Using the gathered inputs, you can now compose your team manifesto. Keep it clear and concise, avoiding jargon. Ensure each section logically flows and the document is intuitive.

Circulate the draft manifesto among the team for feedback. Encourage constructive criticism and make necessary revisions. This iterative process will produce a final document representing the team’s collective voice. 

Formalize and share

Once you’ve finalized the manifesto, you can formally adopt it. Share it with all team members and ensure its accessibility. You can set up a wiki page with the content or include the document in your collective workspace. Incorporate it into onboarding materials and reference it during team meetings to reinforce its principles.

Occasionally, team members might need manifesto refreshers – especially as new hires come on board. Set up regular reviews. Hold an ongoing discussion about whether the aims, policies, and declarations are improving team collaboration and communication. Like your organization, your manifesto is always a work in progress.

Policies and aims to address in a team manifesto

What problems does a team manifesto address? What goals does it set? Here are some examples to inspire your own manifesto:

Encourage transparent team communications

Your collaboration manifesto must address the benefits and aims of a transparent work environment.

Email is comfortable because it provides an audit trail, but it also encourages insular communications practices. If your team is overly dependent on email, your team manifesto could formalize a goal of moving team conversations and communications out of email inboxes and onto public, threaded discussion boards.

Also, consider a team communication model that prioritizes message importance. Often, collaborative teams use separate communication channels based on urgency. For example:

  • Group chat for questions that require an immediate response

  • Threaded discussions for more involved commentary, including problem-solving

  • Web conferencing to let teams meet and discuss detailed, technical topics face-to-face

  • Phone calls for immediate answers and sensitive conversations

Establish open, collaborative governance

Your team manifesto should also be a governing document that codifies processes and platforms. Include the following:

  • Collaboration platform roles and assignments

  • Workflows and the required roles

  • Access, management, and ownership of document versions

Consider creating a collaboration platform user handbook to provide a framework of rules and best practices. LiquidPlanner offers an LP Playbook, which gives teams an outline of how to create their book of usage rules.

Develop document management policies

Between network shared drives, local hard drives, personal cloud storage, corporate computers, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile devices, team members have too many opportunities to keep their “own” copies of internal documents.

Your manifesto should set policies for designating official versions of project documents, including guidelines for collating documents from those “secret stashes” into a centralized location.

After designating a hub for approved versions of project documents, your team’s collaboration manifesto should address ongoing document management. How do you control updates, edits, and reviews? Establish roles, responsibilities, processes, permissions, and document-sharing guidelines.

How Tempo can help build your team’s manifesto

Developing a team manifesto is a strategic process that requires careful planning and execution. Tempo provides tools and platforms to assist this journey by enhancing team collaboration and alignment.

Structure PPM: A tool for building your team manifesto

Tempo offers Structure PPM, a project portfolio management software that can aid you in creating and implementing a team manifesto. Structure PPM tracks progress toward your team’s goals with the following features:

  • Comprehensive project management: Streamline your projects with features that ensure every team member aligns with the manifesto’s principles and goals.

  • Enhanced collaboration: Facilitate real-time collaboration and communication among team members, fostering a cohesive team culture.

  • Data-driven insights: Leverage analytics to track progress and make informed decisions, securing your team’s vision and goals.

A team manifesto is a valuable exercise. It creates a shared vision, enhances team culture, and provides guidance. For more insights and tools to improve your team’s collaboration, visit Tempo’s website and explore our range of products designed to promote business excellence.

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