This summer I got the opportunity to be part of Indium Corporation as an Industrial Engineering Intern. I am excited to share my experience so far. From the very first day, this internship has provided an enjoyable work environment. I have had the privilege to work with highly skilled and friendly supervisors and an outstanding technical support team. Additionally, I have made wonderful new friends who made this summer even more exciting.
A major takeaway is the functionality of the technical support department. I have had the opportunity to attend tech support departmental meetings and be part of this team first hand. The tech support department deals with developing customer relationships via phone, emails, tech papers, trade shows and customer visits. Further, the members actively use their process simulation labs to solve customer problems and test new materials, processes, and products.
What makes this team unique is the ideology that drives it; they seek to implement a leader-leader mentality for all its members. This style of management contradicts the traditional leader-follower management model. The leader-leader management style aims to provide members a better sense of meaning and purpose in their work as well as make them more empowered and engaged.
The leader-leader model distributes both power and responsibility across all the members of the technical support department. To this end, the team is in the process of implementing a project initiation process, a type of project charter to initiate conversation between tech support members and upper management in regard to starting new projects. The project initiation process will allow members to clearly layout project goals, scopes, and deliverables. Further, this will help in focusing on more important tasks and improve our communication and coordination by implementing the use of tools such as Gantt charts.
The team is currently reading Turn the Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders written by Captain David Marquet. In this book, Captain Marquet outlines how he implemented a leader-leader model while being in charge of the USS Santa Fe nuclear submarine. As part of our weekly tech support meetings the team discusses parts of the book. I personally find this ongoing discussion to be really interesting and productive. Getting to know other peoples’ perspectives, and their key takeaways, is a great learning experience for everyone, as the team has begun to implement the philosophy of the book.
The leader-leader ideology is also applied in the way our team meetings are conducted. Each meeting has a written goal and agenda. Each individual is assigned a role prior to the meeting. The roles include meeting leader, facilitator, note taker, board writer, and time keeper. Each week the roles are shuffled which allows members to develop skills in each role. I have noticed that the meetings run smoothly without the need of manager or any upper management. All team members take responsibility and each is capable of running the meeting. The leader-leader ideology is clearly visible in these meetings.
The tech support department is more than work colleagues. I have noticed the members to be like a family. If you are ever in trouble, don’t worry; the team will be there to support you. I personally have experienced this during one of the weekly meetings. I was assigned the role of note taker and, at one point, was slightly slow in capturing information. However, when she saw that I was having trouble, Kay Parker started writing notes for me to augment my ability; the team always has your back. The team also has lunches, happy hours, and other fun events that show the united team spirit in this department. Being part of the technical support department at Indium Corporation is truly a unique learning experience.