Friends and Raiders: Saying goodbye to guildies

How to properly leave a guild has been a topic often talked about, and even more so as of late with the imminent expansion. It’s that time of year when some folks try to find a better fit than the guild there in, others are taking the opportunity to step away from the game and focus on real life more and some are just out-right quitting the game. No matter the reason, it’s never an easy choice to make. You’re effectively stepping back from one thing you love to focus on something else that you likely care about equally.

Let’s be honest here for a minute. It is incredibly rare for someone to play a game contractually, and in the case of an MMO until the servers go dark. I said incredibly rare because even though you hear of players (or you may very well be one) that still play EQ, for the most part that is a small cross-section of the modern gamer totals. Entering into an MMO you have to have an expectation that people have the potential to leave. Yes, making friends in an MMO can be an extremely rewarding experience, but if you aren’t prepared for the possibility that the person may walk away from the game, you can be left quite devastated.

Minimizing impact

People leaving the game  can be tough on a guild as well, especially if it is a person in a leadership position or someone who has become a person that others depend on in a raid. It’s even harder when it’s someone you consider a close friend.

Let us say that an officer is leaving the game in any serious capacity for what may very well be forever to pursue activities in the real world. Let us also say that said officer is an integral part in the running of the guild, like recruitment, raid leadership or any of the various other administration tasks. That leaves a gap in leadership that has to be filled, and in most cases, pretty quickly. The same holds true for a raider, let’s say the top DPS in the raid decides it’s time to leave. Depending on the rest of the guild and group composition it can leave you with a hell of a damage gap to fill. That affects the rest of the guild’s progression through content later on. This becomes compounded when the departures are unannounced or rather sudden. If people think others are leaving out of the blue, it can sometimes cause a panic attack and cause enough of a stir to leave lasting ripples with other members.

If you are considering leaving a guild or quitting the game, the most important thing to keep in mind is communication. This is especially true if you are in any position of power, or importance, within the structure of a guild. You should never feel you have no choice but to play the game. While some of us have chosen to make a profession out of gaming, for most people it is a source of relaxation and venting. A safe haven if you will. That said, if a game becomes no longer fun, or if you need to find a better place in order to have that fun you should be allowed to do so. The same goes for real life. Anything that happens out of the game should take precedence over any obligations in game. One of the key things when even considering breaking off from a guild or the game in general is communication. Letting key people know ahead of time can help lessen the impact of your departure, and it can afford you some much needed piece of mind in making your decision. Talk to your GM about it, if there is a morale officer in the guild talk to them about it as well, maybe even your class lead if your guild has implemented those ranks.

The point is talking about it, even if you’re just considering it, will not only give people a heads up, but give you an outlet to talk things out. It may help to make you feel a lot better about your choice if you decide to move on. If your guild has forums set up, it is advisable to make a going away or stepping down/back post just to let people know where you’re going. You may be surprised how your leaving affects people around you in game on a personal level, and how much just knowing ahead of time that you’re leaving can help them cope.

Story time

I’ve made a lot of friends in game over the years. On several of those occasions it has turned into a real life friendship. In my previous installments of Friends and Raiders I’ve discussed making lasting friendships, walking the balance between friends and leadership and I’ve even introduced you to my healing team. One of my best friends, Eromon, I met through the game, and found out we lived in the same city. He has since left the game mostly but we still remain in touch. Before he left, we talked about his departure in great detail before anything was said to the guild. It helped him know he was making the right decision, and helped with being able to answer guildie question.

So about a month ago, Unpossible decided it was time to take a break from raiding. We’ve been hitting ICC pretty hard since it was released with little to now time off. Officers gathered and decided that a break before Cataclysm was a good idea and would give people a chance to unwind, relax and have fun doing random things like achievements or *gasp* play other games and maybe leave the house! ( I kid, I kid.) Before this break, one of our top DPS and an officer expressed that he felt it was time to leave the game behind, or at least step back from it. He felt that it was time to focus on other things in his life. We showed him how much we loved him at BlizzCon this year by playing one hell of a prank on him. For the last two weeks, he has been true to his word and hasn’t logged in. Not only is he a big chunk of our DPS and an officer, he is a really good friend of mine. He was one of the first people I met in Unpossible 6 years ago, and was always someone I had great respect for and someone I’ve grown to call a friend. Him leaving marks a hole in our DPS, our leadership structure, and our guild. We’ll still keep in touch over media like facebook and email, so at least on a personal level I’ll still have contact with him.

A few days ago, another two members of our guild announced that they too would be stepping back. One, a rogue who was consistently in our top 3 slots for DPS for as long as I can remember. The second is his wife, and a core member of my healing team. She is also an officer in our guild. Losing him is another big hit on our DPS, and honestly he’s one heck of a guildie and a great guy. His wife, for me, puts a very large hole in my healing team that I will need to fill as well as marking the falling of another tree from my “Forest of Win™”. On a personal level, I will miss them both in game dearly but will try to keep in touch with them via other media.

When I heard that these three were leaving, to be honest I was a bit devastated. It took a little bit for me to work it all out. With Zabos I at least had time to let it sink in and get used to the idea. Because we talked about it before hand. With our rogue and his wife, I had zero warning. These are people that I had come to rely on in raids, in guild structure and honestly were people that I had grown so accustomed to talking to during raids I couldn’t imagine not having them around. When I saw their post declaring that they were essentially stepping back that day,  it hit me all at once and in between personal feelings about their departure, I had to start planning to replace at least my lost healer to make my raiding heal team whole again. It’s something I’m still a little at odds with, just because it blindsided me. Thankfully their posts were very comprehensive, so there are no questions as to why they are stepping down. I know a lot of people in the guild are sad at their leaving, and many have already started asking how we are going to fill those gaps in our raid team.

The difference between the two really is simply that Zabos talked to me about it well before coming to a decision. It didn’t hit nearly as hard, and I was better prepared to deal with it. The other two really hit hard especially on a personal level. I had no idea they were even considering stepping back from the game. Both however communicated why they were leaving so that when guildies found out, there was not mass panic, and no jumping off the proverbial cliff.

Endings are just new beginnings

The world still turns and the server hamsters are still, hopefully, running. Cataclysm is less than a week away, and everyone is getting excited to have new quests, new dungeons and to have that fresh new game smell. Unpossible will still be there. We’ve survived since the game was brand-spanking-new, and we’ll likely be around until the server go dark. Sure, we’ll lose members along the way, but we’ll gain more friends as well. We’ll promote new people to officer as it’s needed and continue to thrive. People are already beginning to step up to try to take the place of those that left, and we’ll be able to fill the raid rolls and keep the ball rolling. That’s the nature of the game after all. We’re going to go ahead and punch Deathwing in the face, and chew through whatever the game throws at us. We’ll miss those that have left, and we’ll tell new guildies all the awesome stories about those that came before them. It’s like keeping an oral tradition alive, their stories will live on. For me though,  I know this newly minted Dwarf Shaman is a lifer. I’m in until the world goes dark.

So how about you? Have you lost any important members to your guild? Did they let you know they were leaving before hand? Have you left a guild and let them know?

Well that’s it for this week. Until next time, Happy Healing!

Leading The Lodur Way

Leading The Lodur Way

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This comes as a request on twitter from @Furiey. They asked me to write a post about my particular style of leadership and thus today’s post is born!

There are many different ways to lead I’ll discuss some of the more common ones and then talk about my own style. The most common styles of leadership you’ll find in MMO’s are as follows:

  • Democratic leadership
  • Bureaucratic leadership
  • Charismatic leadership
  • People-Oriented leadership
  • Laissez-faire leadership

Democratic Leadership

The democratic leadership style is also called the participative style as it encourages Guildies to be a part of the decision making. The democratic Leader keeps his or her Guildies informed about everything that affects their Guild and shares decision making and problem solving responsibilities. This style requires the leader to be a coach who has the final say, but gathers information from Guild members before making a decision.  Democratic leadership can produce high quality and high quantity work for long periods of time. Many Guildies and Raiders like the trust they receive and respond with cooperation, team spirit, and high morale.

Like the other styles, the democratic style is not always appropriate. It is most successful when used with highly skilled or experienced Raiders or when implementing operational changes or resolving individual or group problems.

This is an everyone contributes to the process thing with the Raid Leader or Guild Leader being the final say. This is VERY VERY good for morale and helps make people feel a stronger emotional investment to the guild as a whole. It does have a downside in which sometimes Alpha class personalities can clash when two conflicting ideas are presented. A strong and decisive Leader can head this off at the pass however. This is also very time consuming process sometimes to get things accomplished.

Bureaucratic leadership

Bureaucratic leadership is where the Leader manages “by the book¨. Everything must be done according to procedure or policy. If it isn’t covered by the book, the Leader refers to the next level above him or her, or converses with officers as to make new policy to handle the situation.

Basically you set rules and policies to handle as much as you can and then follow those guidelines to the letter, be it loot policy, raiding policy or even guild structure.

Charismatic leadership

A Charismatic leader is one who provides an environment full of energy and positive (well OK, sometimes Negative) reinforcement. If you are naturally charismatic, you are very fortunate! This is a trait that is not so easily learned. Charismatic leaders inspire others and encourage them to be their best. Guildies and group members want to impress a charismatic leader, so they work hard and strive to succeed. Charismatic leaders are great for projects that require energy and talent.

This type of leadership is a double edged sword. You’re often perceived as approachable and a friend to the guild. It’s like Cheers and everyone knows your name. People are excited to group with you and this type of leadership is great for morale. It does however require a lot from the Leader and your mood will greatly affect the mood of those around you.

People-Oriented leadership

The leader is totally focused on organizing, supporting and developing the people in the leader’s team in order to accomplish a specific goal. A participative style, it tends to lead to good teamwork and creative collaboration. However, taken to extremes, it can lead to failure to achieve the team’s goals. In practice, most leaders use both task-oriented and people-oriented styles of leadership. This lends itself well to an autocratic approach and the leader will actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, plan, organize and monitor.

This can be highly effective form of leadership, but has an increased chance to cause burn out and atrophy among Guildies and Raiders.

Laissez-faire leadership

The laissez-faire leadership style is also known as the “hands-off¨ style. It is one in which the Leader provides little or no direction and gives Guildies and Raiders as much freedom as possible. All authority or power is given to the masses and they must determine goals, make decisions, and resolve problems on their own.

While this may sound silly you’d be surprised at the number of people that do take this approach, trusting in the structure of the guild and the maturity and camaraderie of the Guildies and Raiders to keep things flowing.

Choosing the Right Style

A good leader will find him or herself switching instinctively between styles according to the people and work they are dealing with. This is often referred to as “situational leadership”.

For example, the manager of a small factory trains new machine operatives using a bureaucratic style to ensure operatives know the procedures that achieve the right standards of product quality and workplace safety. The same manager may adopt a more participative style of leadership when working on production line improvement with his or her team of supervisors.

How Lodur Leads

I am a Situational Leader, but I tend to hover between Democratic, Bureaucratic and Charismatic leadership styles. My default mode is Charismatic though. I’ve been told I’m very Charismatic by the people that meet me, whether this is true or not I’ll just go with it ;) . I tend to try to inject a lot of energy into my team when I’m leading. I joke I jibe people and I try to keep spirits high. When it comes time to make a decision like if people want to keep going on a raid boss, or if it comes time to re evaluate tactics I slip into Democratic mode. When there is a problem or potential problem I want everyone in my raid contributing. Even the zaniest of ideas sometimes is the one you need to work. Between being very energetic and asking for everyone to participate, morale is kept high and my raiders always feel a strong involvement and attachment to the raid and to the guild as a whole.

When it comes time for something with policy and procedure I become very Bureaucratic. I follow the policy to the letter, it’s there for a reason. This includes reviewing applications for raider positions and most recently denying someone a raider rank. I deal with it with professionalism and courtesy, and I follow the guild guidelines to the letter. Let me give you an example of each.

A few weeks ago my guild split into three 10 man groups. The idea was to do ToC 10, Ony 10 and then ToGC 10 and see how far we could get our groups in ToGC. When I started the raid invites I had a few new people and the first thing they heard was me “yelling” at another one of the officers on vent. Zabos and I have a very long history of friendship and we can often be heard over vent with me telling Zabos to die in a fire and Zabos waving some epic or mount in my face to taunt me. We goof around and the guild loves picking on Zabos. The new guy was a bit confused but then everyone joined in throwing some jibes around. I then chimed in over vent

“OK guys here’s the plan, ToC and Ony like normal then we’re coming back here to do some heroic ToGC 10 good stuff. My goal is to make it farther then Woe’s team. This is where you come in. I need you guys to give it your all when we come back here. Get your silly wipes and deaths out of the way early and lets show our Guild Leader what team Lodur is made of!”

This was met by the sounds of eager raiders getting ready to sink their teeth into content they had not tried before and led to a two shot of heroic Beasts before the raid was called on account of time. The first wipe I asked on vent if anyone had any ideas how we could make it better. A few people chimed in and we implemented some of the ideas and it lead to victory! They were so excited and everyone had a good time, and I was quite proud of them.

After the raid that night I had to send a denial letter to one of my Shaman who had applied to raider. I switched into my Bureaucratic mode and cited the reasons why they were being denied the rank, as well as citing guild policy. They understood and there was no hard feelings.

So that’s how I lead. I slip between the three styles as the situation dictates, but I tend to default to Charismatic style of leadership. People tend to like me and so I don’t have to brow beat them or yell too often to get them to do something. 95% of the time I just have to ask nicely and it gets done. People feel comfortable when I’m in charge and I’m told I do a good job and everyone has a good time so apparently I’m doing something right.

There are many ways to lead and in the end you have to find the one that fits your goals as a group as well as you as a person. and leader.

So how about you? How do you lead? What style best suits your personality and raid?

Tune in next time where I’ll talk about the tools I’ve come across that I’ve found useful when leading a raid.

Until next time, Happy Healing!

Sig

image courtesy of faqs.org

Officers and Alts and Raiding Oh My!

Officers and Alts and Raiding Oh My!

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So very recently one of our Officers has been bringing his alt to our raids, not just farm content but our progression nights. This was obviously given the go ahead by raid leadership but it did stir up interest in a few raiders asking what was going on. As a standing rule my guild has never really taken alts on main raids. Normally alts are left to the alt raids on the weekends. We have in the past however asked very well geared alts along to fill gaps in our raid make up. So after taking care of a few guildies concerns, I figured it was something post worthy.
There seems to be a large concern about officers abusing their power to take their alts on main raids and get loot that would otherwise go to mains, or using their positions to get main raiders / toons to take their alts through content to gear up. While I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, because I’m sure it does, but I don’t think it happens as much as people think. Most time I see guild officers gearing up their alts to be able to pitch hit in a raid if need be. I’ll use my guild as an example. Most of the officers there have well geared alts, it breaks down something like this

GM DK tank main – Well geared Rogue alt

DKP officer/hunter class lead – Well geared Warlock alt

DKP officer/Warlock class lead – Well geared Unholy DK

Recruitment officer Dps DK – Well geared Paladin alt

Raid officer/Shaman class lead – Medium geared DK tank / low to medium gear Hunter

I put myself on the list because I am actively seeking to bring my hunter up to the well geared level of things. Other officers have other alts and such but you get the idea. The intent behind our gearing is something to help our raid and groups out. Let’s say our guild is doing two ToC 10 man runs, normally we have 6-7 raiding healers available. You don’t need 7 for two ToC groups. Let’s say one group is short a tank, my goal would be to be able to hop on my alt and fill that role so the group doesn’t fail to start. Another example and one that we’ve been using. We’ve been a little short on the melee front this past week. As a result the warlock class lead hopped on his Unholy DK for this weeks raids. It provided the same spell buff his warlock did to the raid but gave us the melee we needed for our encounter. It was useful to be able to pull someone’s well geared alt to fill the gap and keep the raid moving.

It should be noted that this isn’t required and that the vast majority of the time we spend gearing our alts up are through pugging instances and farming badges. That said it’s already proven useful a few times.

How to Handle Loot Priority:

So something that is key is to set up a loot priority for any guild raid even if it’s not a main raid. Our weekend alt runs we use a loot priority to keep things going smoothly.

Main spec > Off spec  // Main toon > Alt

Pretty straight forward  right? This has also encouraged more then a few people to bring their main toons to these alt runs as they are normally instances we don’t run anymore or alternate versions of what we are running (my guild is a 25 man focused guild so we do 10 man / alt 10 man runs on weekends) Everyone has fun and anyone can bring their alt along if they want, as long as we get a group composition we need.

Having well geared alts in a guild raid environment is a very useful tool that an be called upon when needed. It seems most people’s apprehension is when they see officer alts pop up in a main raid, I suppose I can understand that. If you’re in a situation that you feel like the officers or some officers in particular are taking advantage of the system, say something just like my raiders did to me.

Now, with all that said, this doesn’t just pertain to officers, but as the questions and concerns was about officers taking advantage of the system to bring in their alts to gear up that’s where we kind of hovered around. Raider alts can be just as helpful and there have been occasions when we asked a raider to bring in their alt. Sometimes this has even lead to them wanting to switch their mains for both their enjoyment and the good of the raid.

So, what do you think about alts getting geared up to raid? Do you have an alt army ready to take down Icecrown? Ever bring an alt to a main raid at the leaders request?

That’s it for today, until next timESig