5 Steps to Boosting the Morale of Your Volunteer Team

It's not always easy to keep your volunteer team excited about serving.  Especially over the long haul.

There will be times when you find morale declining.  It might be due to disunity among team members, a drop in attendance, a budget decrease, a negative attitude from someone, a key volunteer quitting or people just being tired from a hard season of ministry.

One of the most important tasks you have as a leader is to monitor the morale of the team.  If morale gets too low, it can wreak havoc on the team and cause people to quit.

So how can you boost morale when you find it taking a nosedive?  I mean, ministry should be a joy for your team rather than something they endure, right?
Let's look at 5 steps you can take to get the team smiling again...from the inside out.

Check your own morale and adjust if needed.  If the morale of your team is tanking, the first place to look is in the mirror.  The morale of a team will never supersede the morale of its leader.  Has your own morale been slipping?  Have you grown discouraged?  Are you weary in well doing?  Has your passion started fading?

I'm not saying this is definitely the cause of your team morale being down.  But it's definitely the first place to check.  You know the principle - everything rises and falls on ____________?

If you do find your personal morale has dipped, then take some steps to rekindle it.  This may mean getting alone with God for an extended time.  It may mean taking a break and getting some much needed rest.  It may mean asking for forgiveness for wronging someone.  It may mean narrowing your focus.  It may mean asking God to renew your passion and vision for the ministry.

Make sure you lead by maintaining your own personal morale.  You are the only one who can adjust it.  Crank it up and your volunteers will see the difference and follow.

Revisit the mission.  Children's ministry is not easy.  People on the outside don't understand everything it takes to make it happen, but you and your team do.  Week in and week out, you fulfill the tasks that make the ministry possible.  Making phone calls.  Sending emails.  Following up with guests.  Preparing crafts.  Making copies of handouts.  Managing social media.  Preparing for big events.  Making trips to the store for supplies.  The list goes on and on.

Over time, the natural tendency is to get bogged down in the tasks and forget why you are doing the tasks.  When this happens, morale begins to dip.  Duty replaces delight.  Mundane replaces mission.  Boredom replaces blessing.

This is why one of the keys to keeping your morale up is to stay focused on the mission.  The mission is why you do what you do. 

In this post, I share how you can keep your team focused on the mission.
Raise their value.  Another cause of volunteer morale going south is lack of appreciation.  When volunteers feel used, their morale declines.  When volunteers never hear the words "thank you," their morale declines.  When volunteers are not made to feel valuable, their morale declines.

You can show your volunteers how valuable they are by regularly saying "thank you."  You can show them how valuable they are by investing in them.  You can show them how valuable they are by having the children thank them for the impact they are having in their lives.  You can show them how valuable they are by sending them notes of appreciation.  You can show them how valuable they are by providing them with solid training and giving them the tools they need to be successful.  You can show them how valuable they are by having a party in their honor.  You can show them how valuable they are by asking for their input and ideas.  You can show them how valuable they are by listening to them when they share with you.

In this post,  I share 50 ways to show your volunteers you value them.

And in this post, I share 3 secrets for showing volunteers you are thankful for them. 

Have fun together.  All work and no play makes a volunteer team's morale decline.  Laugh together.  Tell jokes.  Get together with no agenda but fun.  Hang out together outside of serving.  Don't take yourselves too seriously.  The team that plays together stays together...and enjoys the journey!

By the way, you should schedule "fun."  If you are not intentional about making it fun to be part of the team, it won't happen.

In this post, I share how to create a culture of fun in your ministry.

Have hard conversations when needed.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, sometimes conflict on the team or a person with a negative attitude can hijack morale.  As the leader, you must guard the unity of the team.

Unity doesn't happen by accident, you have to fight for it.  And this means having hard conversations when needed.  You can't let backbiting, murmuring, arguing, division or competing values weaken the morale of the team.  It only takes one negative person to damage the morale. 

Most of us are not naturally good at hard conversations.  But the good news is this - it's a skill that can be learned.  Here are some articles that will help you have hard conversations like a pro.

5 questions to ask before you have a hard conversation.

3 simple words that will help you have a hard conversation.

You can get more proven ideas for leading a volunteer team in my new book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  It is available in hard copy and ebook formats - click here for ordering info.

Your turn.  The floor is yours.  How do you keep the morale of your team healthy?  Share your thoughts, ideas and insight with everyone in the comment section below.