Building a strong team

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(Back row, left to right) Josh Stanfield, assistant coach, ND swimming and diving; Trevor Carroll, assistant coach, ND swimming and diving; Kameron Chastain, associate coach, ND swimming and diving; Brian Flaherty, senior director for financial operations and administration at NDI; and Lauri Roberts, director of international conferences at NDI.

(Middle row, left to right starting with yellow shirt) Cory Hankins, multimedia specialist at NDI; Ryan Ayres, assistant director of international travel safety at NDI; Lizzie Mikes Henningfeld, associate director of financial operations and administration at NDI; Mark Schult, IT solutions consultant at NDI; Regan Jones, senior director for global operations, NDI; Sarah Biggs, human resources consultant; Bridget Keating, senior associate director of financial operations and administration at NDI.

(Front row, left to right starting with blue shirt) Corrie Klimek, IT director at NDI; Jade Williamson, conference coordinator at NDI; Dyann Mawhorr, associate director of systems and communications at NDI; Kelsi Dahlia, associate coach, ND swimming and diving.

If you want different results, you might want to approach the issue from a different perspective. Regan Jones, the Notre Dame International (NDI) senior director for global operations, did exactly that when he convened a strategic team-building session between his office and other offices on campus, notably Notre Dame Athletics.

Jones is no stranger to the benefits of a strong team working together to achieve a goal. A former Marine, he has worked at Notre Dame in a number of capacities including as the founding director of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. In his current position, making sure his team has what it needs to be successful is a natural progression. With the goal of bringing in diverse perspectives, Jones looked to the ND swimming and diving team coaching staff for inspiration. 

“On its most basic level, swimming and diving is an individual sport. But, to become a successful swimmer and to win championships, you cannot only race for and by yourself,” Jones said. “So we requested to meet with and learn more about how Chris Lindauer, the Peterson Family Head Swimming Coach, and his staff build a strong team culture, manage the tension between individual and collective goals, prioritize their work and facilitate communication to compete for championships successfully.”

Seventeen participants including representatives from NDI’s Global Operations and Finance, OIT and Human Resources met with the coaches at Rolfs Aquatic Center where they observed the team practice and then met for a group discussion in the Monogram Room at the Joyce Center. What was the goal for the session? Learning about building, participating in and leading effective teams, according to Jones. And were they successful?

“Yes, the event was hugely successful,” Jones said. “The greatest benefit was getting to know each other while working toward building strong relationships.”

The session was more than observation and discussion; preparation included homework. Participants were tasked with a reading assignment from an article in the Harvard Business Review. 

“As a global organization, we operate as 4-D teams: diverse, dispersed, dynamic and digital,” Jones explained. “The homework assignment helped us develop a shared understanding, enhancing the learning experience and enriching the group discussion. NDI advances the University’s strategy to strengthen global education, research, scholarship and partnerships. ”

The session was a win-win for all involved. The NDI team walked away with a stronger understanding of how individual team members bring their diverse perspectives to problem solving, while the members of the coaching staff gained a better understanding of the University’s global education activities.

“Coach Lindauer and his staff offered NDI Global Ops a view of what it means to form a high-functioning team by recognizing individual ability, building community with each other and fostering commitment toward a common goal,” said Corrie Klimek, IT director at NDI. “I was surprised by the level of openness and appreciated the candid conversation as we discussed the challenges, opportunities and success the Irish swimming and diving team experienced this season. From those shared stories, I have new insight into how I might enhance collaboration with others on my team to raise overall team performance.”

Jones plans to repeat this experience, so don’t be surprised if you hear from him. “We’re excited to meet and learn from our colleagues across campus and hope to convene similar events in the future,” he said.