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There is no better time to celebrate, reward and motivate your team, than right now! Shay Chamberlain, General Manager of Black Pearl offers tips for managers on how to inspire, energise and make your team feel valued.

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.


Recent years have taught us just how important the lines of communication between venue owner, manager and staff are. Managing expectations and strengthening communication has been vital. Our team really value this open, transparent approach.

We’ve all had to handle difficult conversations in our lives – 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.


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 whatever could arise.

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 proves particularly useful for our team members who are living away from their family – it provided a safe space - 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 after the pandemic, 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.


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 organise team events, away days and generally socialise.

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.