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With World Bartender's Day this month, there is no better time to celebrate, reward and motivate your team. Shay Chamberlain, General Manager of Black Pearl offers tips for managers on how to inspire, energize and make your team feel valued.

Events during this last year have highlighted that our staff not only need us to lead with strength, they also need support, motivation and most of all they need to feel appreciated. Here are some of the ways we are meeting our team’s needs at Black Pearl.


This last year has taught us just how important the lines of communication between venue owner, manager, and staff are. It has been a highly stressful and anxious time for everyone so managing expectations and strengthening communication has been vital. After every new announcement, we touch base with the team to ensure everyone has a full understanding of the regulations and how it will affect the business. Our team really values this open, transparent approach.

We’ve all had to handle difficult conversations over the last year – and my advice to you as a leader is to approach these from a position of empathy. A lot of the time our staff just want to make sure they are heard so make sure you listen and act to try to appease their issues, as well as following up in a tangible way. This is why we involve our team in decision making where we can - particularly on issues that affect their role. This collaborative approach shows that we value their opinion and builds a sense of inherent ownership in the individual. At times I find leading a team similar to being a great friend. That’s what makes our industry so strong – we treat our team members like friends and family.

Bartender with headphones


We are a small bar with a tight-knit team, the majority of the team having worked at the venue for at least two years. This has been an enormous advantage for us to navigate through these challenging times. We were already aware of each other's strengths and weaknesses, professionally and personally, which allowed us to support each other through the unknown months of isolation.

When the team can’t be together, use social online group chats to support and motivate each other and keep busy. Share information on everything from industry tastings to free online upskilling classes and where you can get free meals if needed. This proved particularly useful for our team members who were living away from their family and those who had to move home temporarily – it provided a safe space - even if just virtually and keeping the team together.


Recognition can come in varied formats. Sometimes something as simple as a public ‘job well done’ or shared positive review on a staff group chat can be enough to brighten a team member’s day. It’s crucial we notice the effort they are making and thank them for going above and beyond.

For example, since re-opening, attentive service has been vital which, of course, asks for more of our team and we make sure to acknowledge all the extra effort they are putting in to ensure our guests are happy.

Bartender in action


Remaining optimistic and keeping morale high has always been key for us but it does require some effort from the leadership side. I found that having frequent check-ins with team members by social media, chat groups, phone calls, or walks enabled me to stay connected to the team - keeping the banter flowing and the team positive.

Where possible, I would recommend planning get-togethers away from the bar environment entirely to help promote positive health and wellbeing among the team. We organize team events, away days and generally socialize.

Having a number of daytime and evening non-drinking activities is key. At Black Pearl, we love our sports and one of the great ways we keep morale high is by scheduling sports days on our weekend. Anything from frisbee, touch rugby, netball, and a kick of the football gets a thumbs up from us.

After what’s been a challenging year we plan to celebrate World Bartender Day and our awesome team by treating them to a day trip to the Yarra Valley, they deserve it. How will you be spending yours?