The team was euphoric. We had accomplished the near impossible in meeting our project timelines. It was time for a huge celebration.
I scored a luxury suite for the next home game at the AAA ballpark downtown. The suite would accommodate 40-50 people in airconditioned comfort, with access to additional private seating outside. My budget allowed for the suite rental and catered food and beverage for the entire team.
There was one caveat. Our contract stipulated that we could not pass on any tangible reward to the client members of the team. Our entire team was bummed. Not only had we developed a strong working relationship with our client counterparts, but they had worked just as hard and put in just as many long hours as we did to meet the project goal. It seemed unfitting that the IT team would celebrate with a fun outing, but our client partners could join us only if they paid their own way. Luxury-suite tickets were beyond what most of them were willing or able to pay.
We brainstormed a number of ideas. The client staff could buy the $3.00 far left field tickets and then join us at a local restaurant after the game. That didn’t seem like a good idea, as we wouldn’t be together to celebrate for over half the evening. What if my team also bought the cheap tickets and sat with the client staff? Again, not the best idea as we would be giving up the luxury of airconditioning and a catered meal.
We juggled several possibilities, but none seemed to fit the happy occasion that we wanted to celebrate. Together.
Then another idea hit me. I slipped away and called the ballpark to clear it with management.
To my surprise, they approved my request. We were about to have a great team celebration!
The next evening, we went to the ballgame. My IT team and I entered the gate that led to the suites, while our client teammates paid $3.00 to enter the park through the main gates with the rest of the fans.
However, instead of heading to the left field bleachers, they turned toward the inside elevators that brought them up to our suite.
Step 1 accomplished and no violation of contract rules.
Now for Step 2. How do they participate in the food and beverage service that was pre-ordered and pre-paid by my firm? Easy. I had ordered too much food for just the IT team, and it would be thrown out unless the client team helped us out. I offered them beverages of their choice at $1, as these were non-perishable (and would not be thrown out).
The evening was a resounding success. We all enjoyed the ballgame and the party atmosphere in the suite. Team morale was further strengthened, and the client staff felt that they had been appreciated for their efforts and accomplishments.
Step 3: What to do with one hundred and seven $1 bills? Our firm had no easy way of crediting this money back to the project accounts. Ah well, the catering staff took good care of us. It was my pleasure to let them decide how to split up an additional gratuity of $107.
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