Soldier morale can make or break an Army unit. When Soldier morale is high, Soldiers perform better. When Soldier morale is low, their performance declines. As the Company Commander, one of your top responsibilities is Soldier morale. I’ve found many different ways to keep Soldiers motivated. And believe it or not, this is actually quite easy to do. Here are a few of my favorite techniques listed below:
One great way to maintain high Soldier morale is to maintain a high level of discipline in your unit. One key to success is to enforce the Army standard to everyone, including yourself and the First Sergeant. Make on-the-spot corrections and lead by example at all times.
2. Present Achievement Awards:
When you see Soldiers do something well, submit them for an achievement award such as a unit coin, Certificate of Appreciation, Certificate of Achievement, or Army Achievement Medal. Once the award is approved, present it to the Soldier in front of the entire unit. This will drastically improve Soldier morale.
3. Train Hard:
Soldiers like to be challenged. Make sure that you schedule tough, realistic training. Go to the field and conduct Live Fire Exercises, battle drills and other training events.
4. Unit Coin:
Get a unit coin. Present it to good Soldiers when they do something well. This is great for Soldier morale.
5. Laugh at Yourself:
While I was in command, we had a rubber chicken named “Rickey Chicken.” At the end of every drill weekend, we presented it to the person who said the dumbest or silliest thing. It was great for Soldier morale.
Soldiers want to know what is going on. Company Commanders must ensure that communication flows effectively throughout their organization. Don’t hoard information (unless it’s on a need to know basis). Instead, empower your soldiers by keeping them informed. You can do this through OPORDs, a Unit Newsletter, and during formations.
7. Show Your Soldiers that You Care about Them:
One simple thing that worked great for me was writing short “thank you” notes at the end of every drill weekend. I would simply get one to two names from each Platoon Leader (of Soldiers that did an outstanding job) and I would write a short thank you card and mail it to the Soldiers. In addition, when you walk around the armory and you see a Soldier doing a great job, make sure you tell them they’re doing a great job.
These seven simple things kept the Soldier morale in our unit high. Please realize that all Soldiers will complain from time-to-time. That’s okay and normal. But, keep your finger on the pulse and listen to the Soldier complaints. That way, you can potentially fix the problem and keep Soldier morale high.
In conclusion, it’s really important to consistently evaluate Soldier morale. If you are a Company Commander, make sure you listen to your First Sergeant’s input about Soldier morale. More importantly, you should talk with your key leaders and with your Soldiers to find out when something is going on. The best way to keep morale high is to train hard, maintain a high level of discipline, reward good behavior, and punish poor performance.
How is soldier morale in your unit? What ideas do you have for raising morale? Please share in the comments section below. Thank you.