How to Improve Soldier Morale in Your Unit

In today’s post, I’m going to share some simple and practical things you can do to improve Soldier morale in your unit.

Let’s be honest for a moment. A happy workforce is a productive workforce. When motivation is high, performance is high. The opposite also holds true. When morale is low, performance is low.

Soldier morale can make or break an Army unit. A highly motivated unit will ALWAYS outperform a unit that isn’t motivated.

Whether you oversee one Soldier, or thousands, you should make it one of your primary objectives to keep Soldier morale high. Fortunately, there are many ways to make this happen.

how to improve soldier morale

How to Improve Soldier Morale in Your Unit

Let me share some simple tips with you. These are things ANY military leader can do to improve Soldier morale.

# 1: Lead by Example

The leader is the thermometer of the organization. In other words, your emotions, thoughts, and actions will be replicated in your organization. You must “check yourself” whenever possible. Make sure you are mission focused, level-headed, positive thinking, and growth focused. Stay calm, cool, and collected, and do the things you want your team to do.

Leaders set the direction by helping others see what lies ahead and rising to the challenges. They see everyone’s potential and encourage and inspire those around them. Leading by example is a trait of a true leader. ~ LinkedIn

# 2: Discipline

Discipline is the key to success in any Army unit. If you want to improve Soldier morale you must be a disciplined leader. This means you lead by example, you enforce the Army standards, and you set lofty expectations for everyone you lead.

# 3: Praise in Public, Punish in Private

As a leader, you are responsible to recognize superior performance and reprimand substandard performance. How you do this is what mattes most! I suggest you praise people in front of their peers. On the other hand, when an issue arises, deal with it in private. Also, use tact and be respectful when talking with your subordinates.

# 4: Keep Soldiers Informed

Communication is key in ANY workplace relationship. Keep your Soldiers informed whenever possible. Let them know about upcoming missions, changes, issues, etc. They can deal with the bad news. In fact, bad news is better than no news. Keep your Soldiers in the loop. Do not hoard information.

# 5: Recognition

Recognition is one of the most important aspects of your job. Recognition could include a thank you note, a unit coin, a certificate, time off, public praise, a paid for lunch, an Army medal, or something else. Find creative ways to recognize people. When doing it, do it publicly and be specific. Tell people WHY they are being recognized.

# 6: Feedback

If the only time your Soldiers here from you is when they mess up, you are failing as a leader. It’s important to give your Soldiers feedback frequently. Let them know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, what they can do better, etc. Do this privately and face-to-face whenever possible.

While some individuals thrive on receiving critical feedback, emphasizing only negative, critical feedback can decrease morale, reduce productivity and could potentially leave employees feeling under-appreciated or unsure about their impact on the job. On the other hand, making positive feedback a regular part of the workplace has many benefits. ~ Indeed

# 7: Training

The Army eats, breathes, and sleeps training. You must provide battle focused training. This will have a huge positive impact on Soldier morale in your unit. Get out of the armory. Go to the field. Plan and rehearse your training so it is top notch and over delivers.

# 8: Be “Others” Focused

Instead of focusing on yourself, and your needs, focus on helping your people succeed. When people know their leader cares about them, it will help improve morale and performance within the unit. This means you find out your follower’s goals, you help them excel in their career, you help them solve their problems when they arise, etc. This is servant leadership.

By providing the support and resources your staff needs, you’ll let them know that you’re not there to tell them how to do their jobs. Instead, you’re there to help them do their jobs better. This shows them that you trust their judgment to make necessary decisions, which can fill your team with confidence. When your workforce is confident in their abilities, they’ll be more willing to learn new skills and set loftier goals for themselves – goals they’ll be able to achieve. Ultimately, you’ll notice higher performance and increased productivity throughout your company. ~ Workful.com

# 9: Create a Winning Team Culture

Another way to improve Soldier morale is to have a “winning” unit or team culture. The Army already has one, but you can take it one step further in your own unit. You should have a unit motto and mascot. You should create an environment where everyone feels important and feels like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

soldier morale

# 10: Have Fun

Can you have fun in the Army? Of course. There are times to be serious, but there are also times to have fun. Try to make your workplace enjoyable. When you do that, people will look forward to coming to work. Have workplace contests, BBQs, and team building exercises. Go out to eat as a section. Do something fun once a month. It will pay huge dividends and keep Soldier morale high.

Having fun at work is about creating a comfortable workplace that your employees actively enjoy going to on most days. A culture of fun can have a direct, positive, impact on your company’s bottom line. ~ The Olson Group

Conclusion

In conclusion, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of Soldier morale in your unit. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to create a winning team. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you will be well on your way.

What are your thoughts? What do you do to keep Soldier morale high? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
chuck holmes







Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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12 thoughts on “How to Improve Soldier Morale in Your Unit”

  1. An important note on discipline. Discipline does not equal yelling. If you need to yell at your people on a constant basis you are not solving a problem. Sometimes voices get raised, but if you are yelling a lot people will lose respect for you.

    Be the boss, but be a person too. I'm not saying you need to hang with the boys and talk about the game, but it would help if you learn a little about your people so you can talk to them on a personal level.

    1. You are spot on, Jeff. Shouting isn’t very effective. People don’t like it. Yes, there might be times when it is important to shout, such as on the battlefield when things are loud, but how you talk to people is more important. You can be respectful and still get your point across.

      Your point about getting to know your people is also very important. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  2. You are right: morale can make or break any work unit. These are some great ideas to help improve morale in your unit, but you won’t really be able to figure out what works and what won’t until you get to know your unit. Figure out what makes them tick and what they want out of the military experience. Perhaps there is nothing that you can do to help some, but usually you can help most people if you just take the time to show that you care about them, and figure out what their motivators are.

    1. It’s true, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Taking the time to learn about each person you supervise is vitally important. Once you know what makes someone tick, or what is important to them, you can choose effective ways to motivate, support, and discipline them.

  3. Katelyn Hensel

    I was interested to see that you rank Discipline first. In my own thoughts, I would have thought that discipline wouldn’t even be on the list, but the more I think about the question, the more I wonder if discipline isn’t one of the best ways of keeping morale up. Think about it. Discipline keeps things functioning smoothly and gives each individual their role in the group. I find that people without direction and discipline are the most unhappy because they just waver from thought to thought. Great post. I really enjoyed reading

    1. Discipline has a very important role in keeping morale high in the Army. It is the starting point. Without discipline everything will fall apart. Of course, there are other important things too, but if your unit doesn’t have good morale the first thing I would evaluate is the discipline in the unit. Just my thoughts.
      Chuck

  4. Such great suggestions in this post and they are applicable not just to a Company Commander but to anyone who is a leader or in a leadership position. I have found that communication is key to employee morale and like that is on your list. When your team does not know what is going on or what to expect, that is when thing can go sideways.

    1. Good point, Joey. Communication is important. Keeping people in the loop is important. You can’t overcommunicate. People want to know what is going on and how it effects them. Lack of communication leads to uncertainty and doubt. That will negatively impact Soldier morale.

  5. I’ve found that a great way to improve Soldier morale is to have a high level of discipline in your unit. No Soldier wants to be part of a lazy or undisciplined unit. When you set high standards of discipline, it has a huge, positive impact on morale. Most people joined the Army because they wanted discipline. When you give them that, most enjoy it and appreciate it.

    King

    1. Good points King.

      I always tried to maintain a high level of discipline with my Soldiers. It had a huge impact on morale. Sometimes the little things truly do make the difference. If your unit does not have discipline, it will fail in combat!

      Chuck

  6. I couldn’t agree with this post more. A lot of great ideas to keep the soldiers interested and involved. Communication is paramount between the ranks. It controls the negative rumors that often get passed through the ranks when the unkown is present. Part of being a good leader is knowing when to show passion towards your men and woman, and when to be stern. Never break them down without building them back up. I like the thought of bringing in a little humor into the mix…great idea Chuck!

    1. Great points Lance. Communication is the key to success in most situations. Also, good leaders can keep their followers calm, cool and collected, even during difficult and stressful times. Thanks for sharing.
      Chuck

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