Teamwork and Trust in the Workplace

Three weeks into my health solutions internship at FTI Consulting, I have gotten a glimpse into leader follower dynamics in the office.  Last year, I worked remotely from home, so this has given me the chance to see leadership in the workplace on a more direct, face-to-face level. FTI consists of several different practices, one of them being health solutions. Around 30 full time employees, 4 other interns, and I make up the Health Solutions department. The organizational structure on paper is set up hierarchical, with 3 Senior Managing Directors (SMDs) in charge. The SMDs bring in business and take on projects to assign to directors (a level below). Directors tend to lead teams of 2-5 people on a project, comprised of senior consultants, consultants, and interns to navigate client needs. On my first day in the office, I got assigned a “buddy” and a “coach.” I work most directly with my buddy, who has been a full-time consultant with FTI for 2 years since graduating from UR, because we are staffed on the same project. My buddy serves as an informal leader to me who I learn most directly from and can go to with any questions. I interact less with my coach day to day but, instead meet with her to set goals and follow up on them throughout the internship.

While this tends to be the general structure for the way projects get assigned, in the team setting, the relationships among directors, consultants, and interns are more informal. After my first week on the job, I was assigned to work on a brand new client project. Because the project was new, I had nearly just as much knowledge about the case as did the director assigned to it. This required the director (team leader) to place a great deal of trust in myself and other team members to research about the case and report it to him. While a portion of my internship involves a technical component and individual work where I analyze client data, I have found myself working in a team setting in a conference room alongside a director and full-time consultant even more often than doing work on my own. Being able to work directly with my supervisors, buddy, or coach has given me the chance to understand the different roles that directors and consultants play in the leader-follower relationship at their respective levels.

Because the type work revolves around the schedules of our clients, it is important for leaders in FTI to be adaptable to adjust to new request and meet unexpected deadlines. The director I work with demonstrates strong situational leadership in order to adapt to last minute requests from our clients. While on paper the work flows from SMD to managing director to director to consultant, the value that FTI places in teamwork and trust fosters a team-oriented and close knit team dynamic when working on projects.

One thought on “Teamwork and Trust in the Workplace

  • July 11, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Sounds like a pretty engaging environment; glad you’ve had the chance to work directly with individuals in various leadership roles and contribute to the overall team effort. I’ll be interested to hear how individuals – given the team setting you describe – get to influence projects/processes even if they don’t have a formal leadership role – or if they do. Will also be interested to learn, as you continue, when the more formal hierarchy kicks in (if it does); what issues/decisions rise to the level of more senior leadership and or result in more up and down the ladder (from the team to the senior leadership). As you continue, might think about whether it is purely the team oriented structure that develops trust and relationships, or if it is a result of those in leadership roles (the environment they cultivate), or if it is the result of the individuals that FTI hires (just the nature of the employee) – or some combo of these.

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