Handling the Guild Dirty Work

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.”

– Thomas J. Watson

And I don’t mean scrubbing the toilets.

As leaders, we have an obligation to the players within our guilds. Whenever a boss comes up where something needs to dispelled, I’m the first person to volunteer for it. Not necessarily because I want to, but to show that I can and am willing. The mantle of being an officer comes with a set of unique responsibilities. In order to have the right to ask people to do something, you must be willing to do it yourself.

This is why my raid leader is the first in line when he needs to eat a debuff, maintain constant crowd control or take care of some other craptacular job that no other player really wants to do.

  • Gong banging in Atramedes? He’s always there.
  • Dispelling Blackouts? Sure, I’ll take care of it.

So whether you are a class officer, a role officer or otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to show the troops that you still have it. Because if you keep hiding behind lame excuses and continue giving players assignments you’re unwilling to do, no one’s going to take you seriously anymore. In pickup raids where I’m raiding on my Shaman, I’ll volunteer to tackle any interrupts or purges that need to be done.

To be fair, that’s the only thing I’m really good for on an encounter like the Omnitron Defense System anyway.

Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, states that, “Being in a position of leadership is the most reliable way to become oblivious and emotionally insensitive. Fight this by remembering that you’re under a spotlight. You’ll be watched closely by the people you lead – even more so than how you’re observing them.”

Even though you’re an officer, by the nature of your position, you are placed on a much higher pedestal when compared to everyone else in the raid.

Let’s move on to another aspect of dirty work. Let’s go through the not-so-cool responsibilities that officers need to do.

Do not avoid the dirty work

A quality officer must do things that will upset players. As the guild leader, I have to reprimand, gkick and talk to players who need improvement. The last bit is a bit tricky because I don’t have enough knowledge of a class to offer effective feedback. This is where I need my officers to come in play and assist me in supplying that feedback. None of those are responsibilities we need to shoulder alone. Reprimands and giving critical feedback can be a difficult thing to do. If you can’t handle that aspect of it, you might not be the right guy for the job.

Alternatively, grab a guy willing to do the dirty work. I recommend hunters.

In that same book by Sutton, he quotes a study that “Bosses of the most productive work groups confronted problems directly and quickly, issued more warnings and formal punishments, and promptly fired employees when warnings failed.”

Translating that into guilds, productive raid raid groups address any internal problems head on within a reasonable time frame. Denial doesn’t help anyone. You can talk the smack you want, but you better have the guts to confront players as well. Bad officers continue to conjure up some kind of excuse in order to put off what needs to be done. An example would be like me saying I can’t cast Dispel because I don’t have the mana to do it. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best bad cop type of personality. It’s not in my nature. However, I am driven by own desire to excel and succeed in what I do. If it’s a necessity, it needs to be done.

The first thing I’ll do is delegate it. The next thing I do is set an internal deadline for myself where if an officer doesn’t pull off the reprimand, I’ll take care of it personally.

Actually now that I think about it, setting deadlines tends to help in most aspects of life.

Heck, take the extra step and tell someone what deadline you’re setting and what it’s for.

Implementing the two man (or person) rule

I love he said, she said arguments.

It’s difficult to determine and sift through what’s true and what isn’t. Because of recent incidences, I’ve implemented the two person policy. When any type of feedback, reprimand or anything along those lines are being given, there needs to be another officer in the channel with them. They don’t have to be the same class or role. They just need to be players who the GM trusts and who are able to keep each other in check.

No whispers or tells either. Don’t underestimate the importance of tone. Sure there;s no facial contact unless you’re using a webcam. But listening to the tone of someone else is the next best thing you can do to subtly improve communication.

This was an oversight on my part, but I hope this is a step in the right direction.

Quick Guide to Dirty Work

  • No problem is just going to go away. So don’t delay too long in making the hard decisions.
  • Make the hard decisions to the best of your ability. You’re going to screw them up, but it’ll be a learning experience. If you can’t do it, delegate someone who is willing.
  • Tell players why this is necessary. Example:
    • “The stuff you’re saying in raids, whether you realize it or not, is having a negative impact on our morale.”
    • “You’re not nailing those interrupts. Looking at the same fight for the past 3 weeks, your interrupt success rate is 50%. If there’s something stopping you from doing your job, tell me. Otherwise, I’m going to have to pick up another Rogue”.
  • You do not humiliate, belittle, or bad-mouth people if they’re the ones that are under fire. Of course, you’re free to poke fun at the guy who’s at the top of the meters or if he’s the GM, apparently.
  • Don’t lie to your raid. It kills your own reputation.
  • If you’re not able to do say what needs to be said the correct way, don’t do it until you figure out the best approach.
  • Set an example to the rest of the team. Show them you can compete on meters. Show them you can dispel, purge and interrupt like the best of them.

I’m still learning this stuff. I also need to begin applying these principles.

Thinking about starting your own guild?

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.


  1. lurochanda says:

    To add to this, I was recently in the position that my raid leader felt the need to pull me aside because of my performance. One thing I think my raid leader failed to do though, was try to figure out WHY my performance was sub-par (my gear the first 2 weeks was pretty fail with some questing greens that still needed to be replaced). The first week I volunteered to sit out for a better geared healer, showing that I knew I wasn’t up to par.

    When my raid leader pulled me aside, the discussion was more of “your performance is sub-par – here are some resources [that I had already read, like EJ] for you to figure out your stat priorities because your gear is all over the place.” With that I don’t think he addressed the problem at all: that I was a recent re-roll on a new server with less time to gear and fewer resources, I was grabbing anything that came along that was an upgrade, and many of them were not necessarily pre-raid BiS.

    I think even a simple question of “so luro, why do you think your performance isn’t in line with the rest of the raid?” would have gone a long way towards open communication. And like you mentioned, maybe a deadline for getting acceptable gear and/or higher performance.

    • I believe that both sides are correct in your argument above, Luro. Yes, the proper management technique is to first see if the person will volunteer their short-comings, thus making it a less accusational conversation. However, it’s also not really the RL’s fault that you’re raiding undergeared, is it? I don’t know the specifics of the situation, he may well have shown up at your house and kidnapped your family until you raided in quest greens, but I’d have to say that’s not likely to happen more than once. (Also, in mid-December we were all healing in iLvl 340 gear, it’s doable)

    • @Viktory

      Getting someone to volunteer their short-comings is hardly the point he’s trying to get across. It’s about knowing *why* something happens before you act on it. This is as close to a universal guideline as you can get in this area, since doing otherwise is just stupid, or at the very least inefficient. This holds up even if lurochanda’s actions and subsequent post about them were made in bad faith.

  2. Agree totally with Lurochanda, asking the people you need to speak to is better than telling them; and asking them to provide answers is the best approach.

    I posted a week ago about what makes up a good officer, and much of that post was about setting boundaries and trusting people to do the work. It is also about not being afraid to step in and fix something even though it might be technically in line with a rule.

    The rules should be there to make easu choices quicker, not to remove all thought, and the default position of many pita players is that they stick to the letter of the rules, rather than the ethos.

  3. Good job Matt, totally beat me to the punch, as this was what I planned to write about on Saturday.

    Your Quick Guide is a pretty good reference for any leader to keep in mind.


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