Guildmaster Retirement

Atlas.

In Greek mythology, he was a Titan who was doomed to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Actually, maybe it was the heavens (or sky) to be more precise. After all, he was with team Titans and they lost against team Olympia.

My knowledge of Greek is a little rusty.

The weight of the world

When you’re the guild leader, every  action is examined.

Every decision is second guessed.

Every intent, thought, and comment is placed under a microscope. I still maintain that anyone who wants to be a guild leader is insane. It’s even worse when you’re a blogger. I can’t even explain that one. I take pride in my team. Everyone that’s ever played under the Conquest banner, I’ve wanted nothing less than the best for them (even if it wasn’t the guild).

My responsibilities have steadily lessened as I’ve delegated what I could delegate. I’ve always thought that the key to effective management is to give your officers generalized goals and empower them with the necessary authority to do it.

In other words, tell them what they need to do and get out of their way.

You are your own greatest critic. Any guild leader is going to have that inner voice inside of them that doubts their skills and abilities. Despite the fact that I banish those thoughts during raids, the idle mind continues to wander. I can’t help but wonder if good is good enough. And what do you do if it isn’t? I’d like to think that guild leaders mean well and have good intentions. But here’s the thing about intentions:

Intentions aren’t going to get me good grades.

Intentions won’t help me meet deadlines.

Intentions won’t help me pick up chicks at a bar (LFM Wingman).

But all that stress? It does get to people. I’ve watched slowly as guilds ahead of and below Conquest gradually crumbled and fell one by one. Reasons include things from attendance to epic drama to simple lost interest. And those GMs? I guess they just couldn’t hold it together any longer and just said to themselves forget it.

There have been moments in my WoW career where I’ve considered retiring. Maybe move to the interior. Perhaps by a river. Build a log cabin. But what the heck would I do though?

Go fishing in the river? Maybe grow a garden? Sit on a patio drinking wine? I haven’t even acquired the taste of wine. 

So here’s a question for the retired GMs out there

What did it for you? At what point did you call it quits? what happened to your guild?

I have no plans to retire right now. Conquest has something like over 200 members. Those poor saps are still stuck with me.

Tough Call: Real Officer Set-Ups In Cataclysm

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Welcome back for another issue of Tough Call, with me, Viktory.

Disclaimer: What follows is the summation of my opinion based upon the responses I received from over a dozen guild masters when I asked them about their officer corps. Given the content of my last two posts, I felt it would be relevant to take an honest look at how guilds are setting up their government structure these days. This does not mean you should change your guild structure right away.  It does mean, however, that if you were looking to make a change, you can perhaps derive some supporting arguments from a few successful GMs cited below.

A few weeks ago I put out a call for GMs to help me get an idea how their guilds are operating, and, more importantly, what sort of  hierarchy they have put in place to make their guild succeed.  Out of the numerous responses I received, two solid trends emerged:

  1. There are a LOT of different ways to set-up your guild hierarchy, each with their own respective success rates and ease of implementation.
  2. There are far fewer vanity positions in play these days. At least among the sample group at my disposal, it seems there are most GMs expect more output from their officers.

I am happy to see that the days of  “So-and-so has been with us for a long time, so they are an officer now” are largely over.  Only 2 of the GMs who responded to my survey said they had non-specific officer roles (as in “we all do a bit of everything”, which really leads to “everyone assumes someone else is doing the dirty work”).

To get my information, I asked each GM three quick questions, and let them tell me the rest (and believe me, guild managers love to tell you about their guild, its environment and their genius set-up to solve all problems.)

First Question: “What officer positions do you use, and do they report directly to you or is there a chain-of-command?”

Most Common Positions:

  • - Raid Leader (separate from a role leader)
  • - Melee DPS / Tank / Ranged DPS / Healing role leaders
  • - Bank Officer
  • - Recruitment Officer

Some GMs also reported using Morale/Relations officers and an officer rank for Loot Council or Loot Master, separate from other officer duties.  I’m not sure that I’d classify these jobs are something that needs a full-time officer, but I’m also extremely hesitant with the idea of a part-time or “junior” officer.  If it wasn’t so prevalent, I’d lump “Bank Officer” in with this lot.

As for command structure, it’s fairly unanimous that members report to their respective role leaders, who then in turn report to the GM.  I do wish, however, that I had devised a way to get more information about how the recruitment, bank, and morale officers interact with this command structure.

To me this combo represents a stark contrast to the landscape I saw when I started raiding back in Karazhan.  Instead of a GM who ran every aspect and had a few cronies as officers (which is what typically gave loot council-style raids such a bad rep), we are seeing 25-man guilds shift into fully-fleshed organizations.  Positioning the GM as the Chairman of the Board seems to be the clearest way to define duties/responsibilities, and is an efficient way to make sure the various aspects of the guild function at peak performance.

Second Question: “Have you had to add any officer positions since the end of Icecrown Citadel?”

The answers to this question fell in two distinct patterns:

  • Organization increase: bank officer, recruiter, defined class leads.
  • Expansion increase: recruitment officer, 2nd raid leader, PVP leads.

This should tell you that if your guild isn’t growing or refining, you’re stagnating.  12-24 months from now you will be doing things differently; the faster you can figure out what that will be, the better the transition will go.  After all, these are guilds that had 4-5 years of experience and still found roles to add and needs to address after ICC.  Learn from their example and succeed.

Third Question: “If you had to cut one officer position (not person) today, who would it be?”

A few GMs refused to answer this one, or gave responses that never answered the question, but the consensus was either the bank officer or morale officer would be the first to go.

As I stated above, I’m not sure that these are full-time jobs anyways.  In my guilds we’ve always just defaulted to the most likable officer being de facto “HR guy.”  I am very interested to hear any feedback about ways that a bank or morale officer could contribute on-par with what a raid leader, role leader or PVP lead does.

As always, leave any question, comments or epic knitting patterns in the comments below. (I’m trying to get someone to knit me a bad-ass scarf to wear while podcasting).  Also, if you have a situation that you’d like to have me address in a future column, feel free to send it to viktory.wow@gmail.com.

Preparing for Absences

Things get a little frantic on my end during events where I’m cut off from both my guild and my blog. Everything needs to be planned out to make sure there’s enough stuff to do.

Tomorrow, I’ll be driving down to Laguna Seca in California for work and to check out these motorcycle races.

Remind me to bring ear protectors as we’ll be next to the track. I’m also going to need stuff to do on the way down. Anyone have any suggestions? I’m bringing a few books and I’ll have my Macbook with me. I’m not going to get much in the way of internet. I suppose I could collect some Sudoku or crossword puzzles from newspapers.

From the guild side of things

Knowing when you’re leaving and how long you’ll be gone for is a big plus. It’s good to take stock of the roster during the 6-8 weeks before leaving to see what sort of gaps need to be filled. Knowing that my guild will be down a healer, it’s smart to have an idea of who can step in to fill that position temporarily. I recruited a couple of extra players (who can play multiple roles adequately) so that the raids will continue unaffected.

For my raiding guild, the bottom line for me has always been that the raid must go on.

The next thing to do is to delegate any extra responsibilities you have to other people who both can do it and want to do it.

I usually direct the healers. Someone will need to liaise between the healers and the officers. I picked one of my Priests to do that as he’s done the job before.

Lastly, you also need someone that can cover your position and roles in raids. When the opportunity presents itself, I’ll try to rotate and shuffle healers around. I might put a Resto Druid on Infest healing or a Shaman on tank healing. I’ve placed my number 2 Disc Priest on Infests while I went Holy and raid healed. The goal of the exercise is to give everyone one or two shots doing something that they otherwise normally wouldn’t be doing so that in the event they have to, they won’t be confused.

Always build redundancies.

I think the greatest fear of every guild leader when they need to step away for a while is that they return to a smoking ruin with a pillaged bank and the guild in complete disarray with half the roster size.

And for crying out loud, designate a de facto number 2. Make sure you have witnesses. Tell them something like “This guy’s in charge while I’m gone. Treat the words coming out of his mouth as if they were mine. He’s got my full support and I trust him to do the right things for the group.”

Guildmasters, what’s on your to do list when you know you’ll be gone from the guild for a while?

From the blog side of things

I’ve pre-written a bunch of stuff. I think I’ve written more in the past few days then I’ve had in the past month or so. With more beta information released, there’s been more ideas and stuff to discuss.

I also updated our About page (finally) to include the new guys to the team as well as add some interesting facts and tidbits about ourselves. You might actually find it interesting! 

If you’re interested in being a part of the team (whether permanently or just want to contribute a guest post), check out my guidelines, and then contact me. I love guest posts. And I’d certainly love to feature some over the next week and a half.

10+3 Personalities Every Guild Leader Needs Around

Personalities every Guild leader needs

Not every Guildmaster feels this way, but I’m willing to bet many of them do.

Face it.

It’s lonely at the top.

You are at the top of the food chain and there is no one for you to turn to for help. Everyone comes to you for advice or guidance about what to do next. On some days, it can be the most frustrating job in the world. But it’s reassuring to know that you are not alone.

While not every Guild has every one of these, I’m willing to bet they have some of them. They can help take the load off of a GM’s shoulders. They do not have to be officers or anything in the Guild, but that decision is ultimately yours.

The Rich Guy

The Rich Guy

Whether or not he gets his money legally or illegally, it’s nice to have a guy like this around. He’s got more gold then he knows what to do with. He’s got 3 epic mounts. Per alt. He’s a shrewd businessman and farmer where money is not a problem at all.

Why he’s an asset: If someone’s repair bill is too high, he can help spot it. He usually comes to raids packed with every reagent, flask, and potion made. Useful to have around in case that idiot Priest (namely, me) forgot his Flask of Mighty Restoration again.

Just because he’s rich doesn’t mean he’s generous. Ask nicely.

The IT Specialist

The IT Specialist

He works at a web hosting firm in silicon valley. Or maybe he’s a QA tester at Microsoft. Whatever he does, it’s nice to have the IT specialist around. They are generally soft spoken and tend not to like having leadership positions. Count on them to be extremely intelligent and knowledgeable.

Why he’s an asset: The Guild website is down again and you do not know why. You ask the IT Specialist to take a look. Five minutes later, it turns out you installed the Shoutbox incorrectly. Not only does he fix it, he comes up with a new color scheme for the site that’s more visually appealing, applies a security fix for the forums preventing all those pesky spam posts, and grants membership access to those 40 new members because you forgot how to do it.

You can count on him to help you with Addon installation and configuration.

The Analyst

The Analyst

He spends most of his time reading up on various blogs and sites to learn how to make your raid more optimal. He’s just graduated from college and is in between jobs. He’s got more rings under his eyes than a jewelery store.

Why he’s an asset: Not only does he know how to parse WWS reports, he knows how to read them. After every raid, he will stay up until 3 AM trying to determine how the tank got crushed at the 0:11:46 mark of the Lady Vashj encountered. In other words, he can take numbers from WWS and translate them into something meaningful you can understand. If you can understand the problem, you can fix it.

May get mom aggro once in a while.

The Mom

The Mom

The Mom can instantly sense when something is wrong in the Guild. Her gut feelings are more in tune with the emotions of a player. She knows what to say at the right time. Nothing relieves a tense moment then a calm soothing female voice (that applies in any situation though, really).

Why she’s an asset: She’s able to pry the deepest and darkest thoughts of a player in the Guild. She can silence brushfires with a few tells. She can break the will of even the most devoted gquitter and persuade them to stay one more day. Even though you can’t see it, you can almost see the sad puppy eyes on the screen when she asks you what’s wrong. She’s an excellent sounding board if you need to vent your frustrations because she will actually care.

We love you mom.

The Accountant

The Accountant

He tracks the gains and losses of a Guild in terms of both gold, loot, and manpower. He’s sharp and knows what everything is worth. He can also be known as the IT guy since they are typically good with computers.

Why he’s an asset: He keeps a record of everyones DKP purchase in the past year. He’s able to remember who what what loot when. He makes sure everyone who has attended got the DKP they deserved. Loot will always be accounted for when he is handling it. If there is a discrepancy, he will look into it, fix it, and adjust everyone else’s DKP accordingly.

He also saves you $10 a month on Asprin.

The General

The General

He’s served in the Gulf war. He’s a retired military General. When he barks on vent, everyone listens. He commands the respect of his subordinates and the Guild. He knows when to push his luck and when to cut his losses. He has Murphy’s ultimate law tattooed on his forearm: If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. He has contingency plan after contingency plan filed in his brain in case things go wrong. In short, he’s your raid leader.

Why he’s an asset: He researches every boss thoroughly. He combs through videos and strategies trying to determine the strengths and weaknesses of bosses. Then he tailors these strats to work with the resources and personnel that your Guild has in order to successfully down that boss. He will do what it takes to get the job done in a timely fashion. If something bad happens, you can bet he’s already thinking of a way to salvage it.

If you want results, he will deliver them.

The Optimist

Optimist

Nothing can bring down the Optimist. He’s always in a good, cheery mood and it helps rub off on everyone. He’s willing to help people any time. He’s a genuinely kind person who has no hidden agenda and has nothing but nice things to say.

Why he’s an asset: He can help the raid stay cheery and positive. When he joins the channel, he makes everyone in it smile. His “can do” attitude helps provide that last spark of energy to down Al’ar on the last attempt when everyone is weary and frustrated.

He doesn’t care about the destination. He cares about the journey.

The Mentor

The Mentor

He’s a walking encyclopedia of information. He loves to patiently teach people how to do things. He wants to relax and take it easy for a while but doesn’t have any problems with providing wise advice.

Why he’s an asset: He’s been everywhere and done every quest. Twice. He knows where every mob is. He’s memorized all the mats required for every enchant and where to get the necessary enchanting mats. He doesn’t need WoWHead because he IS a WoW Head.

It takes 8 seconds to look something up on WoW Head. It takes 1 to ask a question and receive an answer.

The Connected Guy

The Conneceted Guy

Quite frankly, the connected guy is… well connected! He has friends in high places. He has enough contacts to make a drug cartel jealous. He’s got more names and numbers memorized then a phone book. He’s a great people person because he can connect with them easily. Similar to the Mom, he’s able to tell the good crowd from the bad and sweet talk players into helping him out. He could be your recruiting officer.

Why he’s an asset: Your tank didn’t show up. A couple of well placed calls, and he’ll deliver an even better tank because that tank owes him one. He can hook up one of your guys with a Soulfrost enchant AND knock off 20% from their price. He’s established a rapport with top Guilds and fine craftsmen. He can pull in a favor at a moment’s notice and help pull in the elusive 25th man. He can hook you up with a spot in the elusive 400+ resilience PvP group.

Great for recruiting because he knows a friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s moms nephews dad’s son who has an awesome Priest looking for a Guild and happens to be on your same server.

The Brawler

The Brawler

He has your back in a fight. If you need air support in the Outlands, you can expect him to bring the rain. He thrives on PvP. What makes you cringe will make him grin. He is a literal lightning in a bottle and if the opposing faction gives you trouble, he will respond with lethal force in kind.

Why he’s an asset: Opposing faction at the summoning stone? Call up the Brawler and him and his band of cronies will secure the area for you and your raid. Someone giving you hell on an alt? Let him know and he’ll grab a large slurpie and camp the poor guy until you’ve leveled out of the area. He knows everything there is to need to know about PvP.

You do not want to get on his bad side because he is the reason why ESRB added the M rating.

Honorable Mentions

The Altaholic

He works from home managing his own business. He has a wide array of alts to choose from because he can multitask so effectively with his job. He loves the game and has maxed out his character slots.

Why he’s an asset: Need a tank? No problem. Want to gear up a tank? He’ll switch to his Priest. Need high performance DPS? Choose from his Rogue, Mage or Hunter. This jack of all trades can fulfill any purpose you need in a pinch.

The only thing separating him from running a 25 man raid with 25 of his own accounts is because the police tagged his house as a grow ops facility due to his power bill.

The Motormouth

He talks. A lot. He loves to hear his own voice and that of others. He’s also really annoying. But you have to put up with him around because he’s your MT’s younger brother.

Why he’s an asset: There’s no other available MT.

The Loser

He gets confused over everything. He needs his hand held in every dungeon. He accidentally wipes the raid because thought Vashj was friendly.

Why he’s an asset: He’s so loveable because everyone can’t help but feel sorry for him. He also sets an inadvertent example for the rest of the Guild on why they shouldn’t stand in melee range of certain Naga.

Um, guys? These walking fish cleave!

If you can find and earn the loyalty of players like these, you can expect a well streamlined guild equipped to tackle any day to day problems. It’s never a dull moment with diverse players like these around. The best part is that they just do their jobs so naturally without you having to ask. If you put them in positions where they have an opportunity to grow, watch them take advantage of it and slip into their roles with ease.

Do you recognize any of these players in your Guild? Are you one of these players? Do you enjoy having them around? I know my Guild has everyone but the Optimist.