Serve People First

How to Manage a Team: Projects

June 2, 2014 by Mark Kilens

The second component of a Management System are team projects. Team projects are incredibly valuable because they create lots of small and large interactions between team members. Interactions create connections between people, and trust starts to develop. Trust creates stronger bonds between team members and creates a more empathetic team.

A genuine level of caring for each team member is created and the team’s culture will feel more like a family, rather than a team of people working at an organization.

Team projects build teamwork, they foster team culture development and, most importantly, team projects empower people to serve people first. In this example, other team members first.

Take a moment and reflect. Are you on a team that encourages teamwork? Is your team empowered to come up with new ideas and innovations?

People crave safety.

Team projects create and foster collaboration, communication and education between team members. A by-product is trust and a mindfulness for one another. Team projects help create a sense of security because the team will do whatever it takes to help the person who's leading the project accomplish it with excellence.

Team projects should be communicated and explained to the entire team in some way. If they're not, the team will struggle to create strong bonds and genuinely care for one another.

Team projects are something that will define the team's culture and are one of the most important attributes of any high-performing, autonomous team.

Directly Responsible Individuals

The leader needs to work with the team to decide what team projects to execute. Team members need to become Directly Responsible Individuals (DRI) of different projects. Project leadership is a great place to start learning how to lead.

People crave recognition.

Team projects empower the team to solve big problems or innovate on new ideas that solve for the customer, the organization and the team. Team members will lead and complete projects and the team will celebrate. Each person who contributed will feel proud to have accomplished projects with excellence. A team can only grow stronger as a result.

DRIs are Project Leaders. They must define the project's purpose, milestones and goals. They will work and interact with other team members to accomplish the project’s purpose. They are both a teacher and a student. Teaching team members why, how and what they must do in order to accomplish the project’s purpose, while learning how they could improve the project’s results, execution, etc.

A genuine leader should be defining a set of quarterly projects. The leader will prioritize which team projects should be shared with the team each month. Not all quarterly projects will be executed or completed that month. That will depend on the urgency of the project's purpose.

Does your team have have a set of defined team projects?

The leader should also ideally det two to four team projects each month. Each with a specific purpose that's aligned with one or more of the team's themes. The purpose is defined by the project’s DRI. Most projects should help the team work towards achieving one or more of its targets.

Simplicity and Alignment

Simplicity and alignment are a genuine leader's secret weapons.

Simplicity should be present throughout the genuine leader's Leadership and Management Systems. Alignment needs to be present between the two systems as well.

Team projects must be aligned with the team themes, and the team themes must be aligned with the team's purpose.

The team's strategy is defined so that the team understands how they will achieve the team's targets, and hopefully one day, the team's purpose.

A genuine leader should be obsessed with keeping the purpose, themes and projects aligned, and focused on keeping the strategy and targets simple and easy to understand. This obsession is a daily habit of a genuine leader and requires a lot of concentrated focus and energy observing how well the team is aligned and how well the team is executing.

Team themes have two purposes: 1) They act as the team's autonomous spark. 2) They serve as execution and innovation guardrails.

An Example - HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy Team Purpose: purpose is to educate and inspire people so that, we, together transform the way the world does business.

A HubSpot Academy Team Theme: “Provide customers with more blended learning opportunities.”

An example of a HubSpot Academy Team Project: Introductory Training Update: Transition all remaining introductory training content videos (v1) to new video format (v2).


Time management is a critical asset when leading projects and reaching its purpose on schedule. How do you manage each team members’ time? I suggest you use a tool named Habitus.

In our next post we'll discuss the third component of a Management System, Habitus.