How to Improve Soldier Morale

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:

1. Discipline:

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.

6. Communication:

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.

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Chuck Holmes

SKYPE: mrchuckholmes
(352) 503-4816 home office
Email: chuck@part-time-commander.com

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9 thoughts on “How to Improve Soldier Morale

  1. Jeff Ferry

    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.

    Reply
  2. Faye

    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.

    Reply
  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

    Reply
    1. Charles Holmes Post author

      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

      Reply
  4. Joey

    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.

    Reply
  5. King

    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

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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

      Reply
  6. lance

    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!

    Reply
    1. chuckholmes Post author

      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

      Reply

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