Lessons from Talent is Overrated: Welch’s 4 E’s

I’ve been reading a great book called Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else. I’ve learned a lot of great lessons and many of the stories are some I’ve found to be inspiring to me online and in the real world. Hopefully you’ll feel the same way.

Former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, had a set of criteria he would use when looking at prospective employees to promote into the upper levels of management. It’s called the 4 E’s! Let’s see if we can take them and apply them to players looking to break into the demanding responsibilities of raid leadership. These are all general (and well rounded) traits that Welch would key in on.

Energy

Self-motivated and driven. These are players who aren’t tired (or don’t give off that impression). They want to do something. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first hour of raiding, or the 4th or 12th hour. Their level of energy remains high, focused, and committed. They’re always eager to get going and try something new when strategies don’t work.

Ability to energize

Having someone who can not only motivate themselves but the others around them is a huge benefit. These are players who don’t need a spark to get the raid going. They are the spark that helps to ignite other players. It’s this up tempo attitude that separates okay raid leaders from great ones. This is a trait that doesn’t have to be limited to leaders either. It could very well be anyone.

Edge

(It means decisiveness, but a word was needed that started with the letter e)

Whether you are right or wrong isn’t as important as making the decision in a timely manner. Ideally you want to be right (or have positive results) more often than not. I personally cannot stand indecisiveness. That’s why I’m not a big fan of “co-gm” or democratic guilds. I don’t like standing around waiting 10 minutes for a raid leader to decide Abom wing or Military wing. Loot’s a different matter entirely. But for other raid-to-raid decisions on progression content like who’s tanking what, which boss to do, what strat to try, who sheeps what, and all that, it’s better to just pick a name and get it done. This becomes especially true in make or wipe situations when picking which Druid should battle res, for example.

Execution

This is also known as the follow through. Can you deliver? That’s all there is to it. The ability to execute is a broad look at all the players involved. Sure you’ve topped the healing charts. Every incoming add is CC’d or destroyed. Your tank miraculously survives 3 seconds past an enrage timer. But the raid boss or encounter must be beaten for all of that to matter. You can say all the right things. You can do all the right things. Yet at the end of the day, you’re going to be evaluated by your guild on the coordination and objectives achieved.

Raid Flexibility: Preparing for the Inevitable.

Raid Flexibility: Preparing for the Inevitable.

 

“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. ”
George S. Patton

Matt had a great post about Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession . If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please do so you’ll enjoy it. Matt broke down the pieces of a raid that need to be kept in working order.

I’d like to talk today about what goes into making that work when the unexpected comes up.

There are several events that may come up that can throw a monkey wrench into your raiding schedule. It is the job of guild leadership to make sure this does not happen. Lets look at some of the things that can become a speed bump.

1. Vacations and Real Life Events

Lets face it, real life happens. People need time to go and do things like visit family, and just get away from it all. My guild has a saying, “Real Life always comes before game”. No player should feel like they can’t take time off and enjoy having a life outside the game. If you find yourself in a position of wondering if you can skip the raid to go see johnny graduate, there may be a problem.

2. Burnout

Every guild I know has felt the burn of this one at one point or another. We play this game like a part time job sometimes. Spending hours grinding, running raids and heroics and prepping for the raids. It is fun and social but sometimes you hit a point where it just weighs on you. You see this when content becomes stale too, players get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again with little variety. I’ve been hearing tales about this from friends of mine along multiple servers with current content. When players hit the point of burnout they begin to resent the raid and the game and sometimes decide to take a step back and wait for themselves to become revitalized.

3. Acts of god

Things happen sometimes that are out of your control. Hurricanes, Fires, power outages, storms and what we affectionately refer to in guild as “shiv to the forehead” moments. Sometimes you lose people when natural disasters hit, people lose power in the middle of a raid. These things are out of a persons normal control and can never fully be prepared for, but you will have to be dealt with when they happen. My guild has many members who live in areas where they suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, we know this and we have to be ready for it. Funny story for you guys on this one too. Shiv to the forehead is what my guild refers to people who go on extended AFK’s  “where’s johnny” “dunno I think he answered his door and got shived in the forehead”. We were in The Eye getting ready to bash up Loot Reaver when I got a knock on the door. I called out in vent “hey guys be right back, someone’s at my door”. I go to answer and  find one of my batty neighbors. I step outside to see what they want and I hear the door shut and click behind me. I immediately hang my head as I realize I’ve locked myself out of my apartment. After a good twenty minutes or so I manage to get back in the apartment and call the raid officer at the time to let him know what happened. Yeah, teasing ensued for a long time as everyone thought I went to the door and got “shived in the forehead”.

4. Drama

This is a big one. You’re spending a lot of time with a lot of different people. You cultivate different relationships with people over the course of your time together. Warcraft is very much a melting pot, you will have people from all walks of life around you. While you have a common goal, conflicting ideologies and life events can grate on people causing stress to a point of breaking. You’ve all hear the stories, maybe you’ve experienced it. Friends stop being friends in game over something and one stops coming to raids, two players who were in a relationship break up and try to put the guild at odds over it by choosing sides (this also covers two people pursuing the same love interest in game and coming to odds over that). Sometimes people “Ragequit”, often times over loot. This is where they abruptly /gquit and then log off. That seems silly but it does happen. Back in the days of Black Wing Lair my guild had a warrior who ragequit. A set of tank gloves dropped, and he put in for them. Problem was he was fury so tanking was considered offspec for him. A primary prot warrior put in for them, and even though he had less dkp then the fury warrior was given the items as it was prot priority. The fury warrior immediately flipped out and /gquit on the spot, taking his girlfriend (one of our healers) with him. The twist was that we continued to raid by pulling in a couple more raiders and the same set of gloves dropped off the next boss (gotta love shared loot tables). Go ahead laugh, it’s a funny story.

These things happen. It’s the leadership of the guilds job to be prepared for these things. So what can they do to make sure these things don’t keep the guild from moving forward and raids from happening? Well there are several things they can do.

Being Prepared!

1. Recruitment

This is pretty big solution to a lot of the problems. With raid size having been changed from 40 man to 25 man its a lot easier to keep a flexible roster of active raiders available. The leadership of the guild has to sit down and decide how many actives they need to keep around. Too many and you have too many people sitting out, too few and you run the risk of a large vacation or disaster of some nature taking too many out of the game to compensate for. For my guild the sweet spot is around 30 members at the rank of raider. In addition to raiders, we have a non raider rank of veteran. This consists of people that cannot meet the raid requirement but are still around and active, and friends and family. Friends and family are literally that, people who wanted to be in guild to play with close friends and family members, but never apped to be raiders. With veterans we tend to have alt runs to keep their gear level up, and this way we have a further pool of people to pull from if the number of raiders goes too far south.

2. Redundancy

Matt touched on this one a bit in his post. Redundancy saves the raid. My guild has two people ready to lead the raid at the drop of a hat. We’ve gone to lengths to make sure the raid can prevail under some odd circumstances. Let me give you an example. My guild leader normally runs the raids, and I take care of healers, we converse in officer to talk about strategies as needed and it works well. This also gives us two people to yell at folks to get out of the fire / void zones, and a check and balance in case we miss something. The other night we were running Heroic Naxx, and the guild leader DC’d due to some random Internet screw up. I made a phone call to find out what was going on, and then when he said he would probably be a while, got everyone moving to keep going till he could get back. I also sent out a couple tells to make sure we had a replacement ready in case he couldn’t get back on. Redundancy helps deal with burnout and real life events quite a bit. It allows players the safety of being able to go and take a vacation or enjoy real life without worrying about having to be there or else let the raid down. It also means people who are burning out can take their hiatus and get back to their normal frame of mind. I’m currently working on bringing up to speed a healer to take over healing assignments on the off chance I take a vacation or need to miss a raid.

3. Communication / Structure

This is another big fix. Making sure your guild can communicate with one another openly is a great (and important) thing. I have a very open door policy as an officer, something I have done throughout all my years of management as well. If someone has a problem, questions or concerns they can contact me. I’ve posted my email / aim / phone number on the guild forums multiple times, as have many of the other officers. This helps keep drama low as when someone has a gripe or complaint, they feel they can bring it to us openly and it doesn’t have to sit and fester. We also have a solid structure in the guild so there’s always someone they can go talk to:

Guild leader > Officers > Class leaders > Raiders > Veterans

We post any changes or pertinent information on the guild forums as well. Making sure information is flowing keeps a lot of things in check. It’s also important to have a set of rules in place to deal with complications. This helps cut down on drama and personal issues.

The officers do a lot on the back-end to make sure things go smoothly. Unpossible has been around for a very long time and is one of the longest lived guilds on Zul’jin, we’ve adapted to survive pretty much everything that can be thrown at us. We are able to do this because we have systems in place to deal with the obstacles you can’t control. Like Matt, my guild operates under the assumption that everyone is expendable. To quote Matt

The expendability thought is that no one person should be so important or required that the entire raid has to stop its operations in case a certain player is absent.

Thats it for todays post,

Until next time, Happy Healing!

As always feel free to follow me (@LodurZJ) on twitter And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession

Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession

worried

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
- Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The show must go on. It’s a common rallying cry among drama and theatre productions. It means that no matter what, the audience expects a show and the performers have to deliver. I have the same mentality when it comes to my blog. I do my best to ensure that there is something daily here for you readers to consume!

Keep that drama catchphrase in the back of your mind for a moment. We’ll revisit it.

A story

First, a story. Team Conquest finished off Naxx, Malygos, and Obsidian Sanctum. We had a reduced raiding roster. As were slowly working our way throughout OS, I received an urgent message. It’s not very often that I miss raids. It becomes even rarer when an unexpected event comes up where I have to sit myself out during the middle of a pull.

The usual trash clearing chatter was going on. I explained to the raid that something came up which required my immediate attention. One of our Resto Druids were on standby. I quickly explained to him my situation and he agreed to come in. I immediately passed off raid lead and master looter to one of my officers and said “He’s in charge.”

I returned home 40 minutes later. A quick glance on vent showed players were slowly disconnecting and breaking off into their own channels.

This meant either the mission was accomplished or that the raid had been called prematurely due to lack of resources.

I popped in.

“Is it done?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

I was relieved. I think I felt a slight twinge of pride in there somewhere. On second thought, it might have been that sore throat of mine acting up.

The Parts

Raid leader. No, not Red Leader. We’re not talking about Star Wars here. How many players are capable (and willing) to lead your raid? I have four players who are able to sit in the captain’s chair and direct everything. If your answer is one, then you may wish to re-examine your options. Not everyone is able to fulfill this role. Make sure your candidate has the will to do so and the undying respect of the guild or else it won’t work. You can’t make people respect leaders. They have to do so on their own.

Tanks. Brio does an excellent job flipping and rotating tanks around. It helps to keep the tanks fresh and interested in what they’re doing. I have about six players who have the ability and the gear to switch into tanking roles if it is necessary. We haven’t had that happen yet. But it’s comforting to know that the option is available.

Healing leads. Currently Syd directs the healers. I do step in if she needs a day off every so often or if she’s not as familiar with an encounter. That makes two who are capable of handling assignments. Handy in case one of them manages to inadvertently stab themselves in the eye. That hasn’t happened yet, thankfully.

Healers. This should go without saying. Either recruit extra healers or have players willing to switch from their main role to a healing role if the fight requires it. There are 7 of us on the starting lineup with another 3 on reserve.

Replenishments. Ret Paladins, Survival Hunters, and Shadow Priests. I believe this is getting further expanded in 3.1. Have alternative sources for Replenishment. The mana regen is going to be a must going into the next raiding tier. I’ve got a Shadow Priest, a Ret Paladin, and several Hunters who can supply it if necessary.

Heroism/Bloodlust. I refer to this as the raid leader’s personal shotgun. While not always a requirement in an encounter, it helps to have the extra damage available to push through a certain phase as quickly as possible.

Why?

We are all expendable. This stems from a core philosophy of this guild. We are all united in our desire to raid and clear content. I have a duty to minimize whatever obstacles or obstructions that could get in the way of that mandate. Not having players or not having the experienced is not an acceptable reason for me. The expendability thought is that no one person should be so important or required that the entire raid has to stop its operations in case a certain player is absent.

When Conquest was first conceived, I knew I wanted the flexibility there. I knew that I could not be there all the time. I knew Brio would not be there all the time. I knew certain key players would not be available. I recruited players into the guild who I felt had the potential to take over certain functions should the need arise.

Whatever happens, the raid must go on.

10 mans

This is where it gets tricky. I don’t know if that same philosophy above would apply here as the individual efforts of players becomes even more amplified. Several of roles above wouldn’t even apply here. You don’t necessarily need a healing lead among 3 healers. It wouldn’t be that difficult to divvy up the responsibilities.

I’m not as experienced when it comes to pure 10 man guilds.

Matt Answers Your Questions

As surprising as this may sound, I don’t often get a lot of email. Most of them can be easily answered with a few lines and a link. Some of them require much more detailed responses and get turned into posts. The emails that deserve more than a few lines and don’t require posts, I’ll compile together. I’ll end up doing this once a month or so with emails that either myself or the rest of the WoM team don’t get around to answering.

I got into a discussion with a friend the other day about what is easier/harder to play: a tank or a healer – specifically priests and warriors?

He’s convinced that its harder to play a priest (holy/disc hybrid) and I said playing a warrior tank is harder (I have played a disc priest and prot warrior all thru the Wrath Beta and my live priest just hit 80 a few days ago due to tank shortages). I was wondering if you could propose it out to the general community on what they think is harder to play.

Thanks :)

My gut instinct here says a tank would be harder. But then again, that’s because I’ve never really played a tank. I think if I logged around 72 hours on a Warrior or something I might be able to get the basics down. Tanking and healing are on two separate ends of the spectrum that there is just no comparison at all whatsoever. Both call upon different sets of skills. One guy has his eyes glued to his raid window while the other guy is glued to cooldowns and boss cues.

But I’m sure there’s a few players out there that can tank and heal effectively. What’s your take?

I am the Paladin class leader of my guild and main holy paladin. I have been reading the post about healing Sartharion 3-drakes. One suggestion involved having a holy paladin use righteous fury to help pull threat on whelps. It’s not something we have tried yet, as we have been using 2 add tanks and 1 drake tanks. However the idea is definitely worth investigating to see if it could work for us as well. However, I am unsure of the spec used by the paladin healer to survive the adds. I have some ideas, but i would like to see a definite spec that has worked, without gimping the healing output. I think that healing output is less, which is why it was mention, that the add tank healer will need help, but i would like to be clear on the extent at which you sacrifice healing talents, for survivability.

Also did the paladin use any pvp gear for increased stamina?

From,
Psychotaz

I can’t exactly offer much help here. All I know is that the spec did reduce healing effectiveness slightly but not enough to warrant a panic. I believe it involved picking up Divine Guardian (the bubble spec). To really make use of Righteous Fury, the Holy Paladin needs to pair up with and stand on top of the add tank. The first time we tried it, we used it with a couple of PvP pieces to see if it would help increase survivability. But we quickly found out that it was simply unnecessary. Any Paladins want to jump in?

It’s times like this I wish I had a Holy Paladin on retainer somewhere for a consult.

In our guild we have 2 raider ranks:

  • Noob
  • Raider noob

The standard for raider noob in BC used to be that if someone had 90% attendance for 2 months and solid performance in raids, they would become a raider noob. However, since the release of wrath all of our recruits have been of exceptional caliber, now probably 23 or so of our 28-29 raiders all have very good performance and 90%+ attendance. This has been wonderful but leaves us with a problem with promotions, we can either promote almost the entire core of our guild to raider noob (as almost all of them have been here for 2 months+), but that would severely alienate the few who don’t make it up to raider noob.

We could increase the duration (which is what we have been doing), but that would only be a temporary solution. The last option I can think of is to increase the standard for raider noob (only our clutch healers, top 5 dps etc), but this would require demoting some of our existing raider noobs, which hardly seems fair as well (they are all good players). Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

Well, you’re in a bind. There’s no doubt about that. There is a way but it’s going to involve a lot of heart to heart talking with your raiders. Let them know that the time has come to restructure the guild ranks. Be honest with them about it. The good ones will understand and won’t mind the change in title anyway. A rank is a rank is a rank. It’s just a label. It’s how you treat the players that count. Let your guild know what the problem is. Heck, you could make a third tier rank that says Ubernoob that’s nothing but the best and the brightest. But then you’re just adding on another layer on top of that, right?

Are you sure about the alienation problem or is that what you would feel? Remember that no WoW players are exactly alike. How one person could react to an event can be completely different to how someone else reacts. You can either axe all the ranks entirely (and set one unifying rank), set the ranks based on seniority (length of time in guild), or availability of raiding (my preference). A player that can’t make all raids is automatically a sub for me or if they’ve demonstrated inability to make all raids (or have disappeared for extended periods of time). Otherwise, everyone’s a raider. I run a tight ship with 3 other senior staff and a loot council.

At the end of the day, remind your guild about who they are and what they’re made of. You said it yourself. You have 28-29 skilled raiders with an impressive 90%+ attendance rate. A lot of guilds would kill for that. If they’re married to their rank and title to the point where they’re willing to quit over it, then maybe it’s time that they walk (which also solves your rank problem anyway since it’s one less person to worry about).

Remember Rule Number 6

Remember Rule Number 6

Ben Zander

Lighten up, Matt. Stop taking things so seriously. Relax once in a while.

I hear that too often.

General managers face the brunt of many things. Mislooted items, irritated players, you name it. Their frustration inevitably transfers over to me. Aside from that, I put up with random ribbing, name calling, insults and all sorts of flak that rolls in. On a day to day basis, my stress levels are being constantly tested. To the raid, it’s like a game. How shall we pop one of Matt’s veins today? Trains are dropped just to set me off.

“My love for someone is directly proportional to how much I make fun of them.” Says an officer.

Of course, at this point, I’m thinking the guild must really like me.

I have a history of being uptight. My friends are always telling me to calm down and relax. I hardly take any time to rest or relax (probably because my idea of relaxing is doing work). Have a glass of wine, they say. Except, I haven’t quite acquired the test of it. White wine I can handle. Red? Not so much.

A guildie recommended me a book by Benjamin Zander. I blogged about him before. His book’s called The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Rule number 6: Don’t take yourself seriously. Lighten the mood up.

Humor helps. Laughing can unite everyone’s personality, flaws, and mistakes. Especially when we feel like we are entitled to something, insulting someone, or just wanting to wring that other guy’s neck.

Here’s a funny story from the book that inspired the title of this post.

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so g—damn seriously.” “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Now I just need to remember this rule myself. In the end, it’s a game with real people people behind the avatars that you’re playing with. I can’t always approach problems with a scowl on my face.

Watch this other video by Ben about leadership. It’s a talk he conducted in 2008 in the World Economic Forum. It’s only 9 minutes long. Some if it overlaps with the TED talk I linked above.

How fascinating!

And he got a whole room to sing Ode to Joy. I think. Is that in German? I wonder if I can get my guild to pull that off.

Stare Decisis in Loot Council

Stare Decisis in Loot Council

Just about a month has gone by in the formation of Conquest. Loot council continues to be an interesting challenge because the council never knows what sort of situation will present itself.

In today’s post, I wanted to talk about an important concept that’s not only valuable in the legal arena but also in an LC guild.

Stare Decisis

This is a legal principles where judges have to follow precedents established in previous decisions. How does this apply to WoW with respect to loot council? Because the decisions we make in how we hand out loot are expected to be binding. I’ll typically follow the principle of Stare Decisis but ultimately, I won’t hesitate to go a different way in decisions of loot for progressive reasons.

Unfortunately, the reality is that virtually no two decisions are going to be the same. You will have similar cases and they’ll be decided similarly. For example, we awarded a tier piece to a Resto Shaman completing his 4 set (because Chain Heal is still whoa). But if I had my 3 piece and a 4th Priest token drop, I wouldn’t award it to me purely because of the bonus (since I don’t use Greater Heal that often to justify it). It literally is a case by case decision. This is bad in that we’re not following a precedent but good in that we’re willing to remain flexible. Remember that this is a loot council not a court of law. Items will drop again.

Decision to Reward vs Decision to Gear

For guilds that have started progressing through different raid instances, realize that you’re going to come across a dilemma and I guarantee you that it will happen. Every member on your loot council is going to ask themselves the following question when an item drops:

Should I award this item to the player who has run all the 10 mans and done all the heroics or should I award this item to the player who dinged recently dinged 80 and hasn’t had the time to get as geared as the other players?

There are two schools of thought on this and let me tell you what goes through my head every time.

Reward: I like to reward players for their efforts. They hit 80 earlier on ahead of the curve. They’ve managed to work their way into pug groups to get themselves geared. Without their efforts, the guild would not be where it is right now. Their contribution is important and I want to recognize that.

Minimum standard:  The other perspective is to gear up the weaker geared player since that player hasn’t had as much time to get where they should be at. Especially for progression kills, there’s a minimum standard that every player regardless of class has to meet. To make life easier on your raid group, the weaker players have to be brought up to speed.

The past 2 weeks have been a lot of fun for all of us (I hope). Everyone has either reached the minimum benchmarks that have been set in terms of performance (2000 DPS on Patchwerk) or have exceeded it (5000+ DPS on Patchwerk). Now that the minimum standard has been reached, I can further lean towards rewarding players that can use items off of the second level bosses such as Kel’Thuzad and Malygos.

Mind you, I’m still just one person on Loot Council.

Mixed messages?

Following a decision that was made earlier for loot is good, especially when deciding on subsequent items. But don’t chain yourself to it or lock yourself.  Keep your loot council flexible because they have to adapt.

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge mistakes.

Don’t commit.

Don’t promise.

Don’t over deliver.

Don’t bind yourself.

So like Amava says, consistency does matter.

There was a case last week where a tanking neck dropped. Both of our tanks expressed interest. We were at a dead lock. The tanks wore the same neck and they could’ve equally benefited from it. We were taking too long. I gave the instruction to roll it.

I realized later on in the evening after the raid was done that it was a bad idea. Upon further reflection, I doubt I’ll give that order again. The exact reasons that crossed my mind were the same ones that Amava listed. This would’ve been the only time (not counting our first unofficial raid) that rolls were used to decide loot. Our current tiebreaker is an officer who is not a part of the loot council and does not wish to take part in decisions. That’s a temporary fix that I need to address. My options are to elevate another player to the loot council (a DPS cloth wearer, perhaps) or set it so that in the event of a tie, my choice wins (Overlord Matticus, hmm). 9 times out of 10, we do reach a consensus. But things like tier tokens always take a bit longer since they’re useful for so many players.

By the way Amava, yes I do read your blog when I can. I read it so that you can keep me honest. Keep doing what you’re doing. I won’t punish you for speaking out or voicing disapproval.

Some more food for thought for players looking and still deciding upon their loot systems.

11 Reasons Guildmasters Fail

11 Reasons Guildmasters Fail

master

Guy Kawasaki tweeted a link to an article that caught my eye. It was a psychology blog called PsyBlog. Long time readers know that after WoW and tech blogs, I frequently read psychology, blogging and personal development blogs.

So what exactly did I read? 7 Reasons Leaders Fail is the original post.

Already you can see where I’m going with this. I noticed characteristics highlighted in the article that were exhibited by leaders I had in the past. So in this post, I want to apply some of the reasons listed on PsyBlog to WoW leaders and add a few more of my own.

Strict Hierarchies

This is the first reason listed in the PsyBlog post. Here’s a typical hierarchy of a raiding guild:

  1. Executive (GM)
  2. Advisors (Officers)
  3. Raiders
  4. Everyone else (Socials)

Some of my former GMs in the past were stubborn and not open to using methods that would make life easier for them and the raid. Often times, the raid would “play dumb” and did what the boss said (which includes me). We assumed he knew best when it wasn’t always the case. He set up the pulls, assigned the healers, organized positioning and did everything else himself.

A present Warlock in my guild alerted me today that he could tack on Detect Invisibility on several players to help spot for those pesky black shades that seemingly appear out of nowhere in Naxxramas.

Poor Decision-Making

This is number 2 on the PsyBlog. Let the experienced veterans make some calls. Some people aren’t cut out to make certain decisions. I should never be allowed to setup pulls or mark targets (as Hassai so kindly reminds me). I should leave that to the tanks. I should not be setting up crowd control targets. I Should not be the one calling out Battle Res targets. There are other players in better positions who can make effective calls quicker than I.

Let your best people do the jobs they are suited for. Focus on your individual strength. My strength relies on healer organization and assignments.

Something I pride myself in is the ability to ask questions. If I’m unsure about a mob pull or an item, I’ll ask the experts. I expect them to give me precise information so that I can make the right call.

Impossible Standards for Leaders

Here’s a good one. The reason says it all. Leaders are expected to know every little thing.

We don’t.

We’re only human. It is so true it is scary how accurate this statement is. I’m expected to know optimal Mage DPS rotations, tanking orders, MD targets, gear choices and so forth. I’m not exactly a walking WoW Wiki. A few of the qualities leaders are expected to posses, according to PsyBlog, are integrity, persistence, humility, competence, decisiveness, and ability to inspire.

So where do I stack up?

Here’s my self evaluation out of 5 (with 5 being the most and 1 being the least).

  • Integrity: 5
  • Persistence: 3
  • Humility: 5
  • Competence: 3
  • Decisiveness: 4
  • Ability to inspire: 2

(Note: Guildies may comment without fear of reprisal)

Treating People Like Crap

It’s a simple concept. If you treat people like crap, you can expect crap performance. I don’t like to yell but I can and will speak firmly at times in order to crack the whip. In this case, my guild is also my boss. If they don’t like me or my performance, nothing is going to stop them from departing. I don’t want them to leave. I want to foster a friendly yet professional environment. But I can’t afford to be too friendly as you’ll find out later on.

Psychology of Followship

This is another intriguing point from the PsyBlog. What makes people follow someone else? I think it’s important for GMs to ask themselves why these people are following them and why they trust them. GMs are obviously doing something right. If they weren’t, then members would be sporting a different tag. This is especially true in WoW where leaving and joining guilds can be done in mere seconds.

Like people who think alike will generally do similar things. I want to kill Arthas. I want to do it on these days. I want to take this approach. I have over 20 members who have a similar stance. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be here.

Lack of a Presence

Leaders need to show themselves. They need to be visible. When BC came out, my GM was hardly ever around. I thought he didn’t care about the game. He didn’t have any plans for Karazhan. In my next guild, on the day we were working on Gruul, my GM wasn’t in the raid. He was out farming on Elemental Plateau instead of being with us killing Gruul. We had to pug a player for his spot.

What am I doing following someone who doesn’t seem to care about this game as much as I do? Is this someone I really want to follow?

No Confrontation

If you have a player who is performing poorly or is behaving poorly, they need to be spoken to and the situation needs to be resolved. I’ve had leaders in the past who did not have the spine to call their bluff. I think a GM needs to be prepared to remove anyone from their organization if the situation ever demands it. Be prepared to sit a player out. There will be times when the success of a raid rides on a single player’s performance. If they can’t hack it, they need to be told to sit for the night in favor of someone else.

If the guild I’m in ends up wiping to a single boss for 15 straight tries and the rest of the guild feel that it’s the result of one person, then something’s got to change. Maybe they’re disconnecting like crazy or having computer issues. Whatever the reason, it has to be fixed. The raid must go on. As much it sucks for me having to make the call, I have to be prepared to do it. Even if its me.

Alienation

In a recent post I wrote about Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids, AltoholicsAreUs wrote:

The only thing you MIGHT have to watch out for now, is “cliques”, meaning groups of people who plow through the ten mans to farm or obtain gear, but do not allow newer or outside members of your guild to participate.

I’m not the best baby sitter in the world. I got kicked in the groin once by my little “buddy” in grade school. Cliques are going to crop up no matter what and there’s very little that can be done to put a stop to it. You could try, but the clique could react in a bad way. The GM and officers need to be intimately aware of the guildies around them and attempt to include them in guild wide activities such as Lake Wintergrasp. Check in with players from time to time to see how they’re doing.

No Enthusiasm

A GM needs to have a level of energy and passion for something like this. No matter what you do in life, be passionate about your interests. If you’re not, then you’re not doing what you like. Seth Godin’s a great speaker because he’s passionate about what he does. Garr Reynolds is a greater presenter because he excels at speaking and presentation delivery. A great Starbucks barista separates herself from the rest by adding the little swirly thing to my venti sized iced double chocolate chip mocha frappucino!

They all love what they’re doing. I love what I’m doing. I don’t have to be skilled at hockey to be passionate about the game. Are your GMs passionate about what they’re doing? Are you?

One of my new recruits appeared to be delighted when he found out I wrote a WoW blog and contribute to WoW Insider because it demonstrates that I like what I’m doing.

Empathy and the Lackthereof

Some GM’s I’ve had were self centered and self absorbed. They weren’t capable of putting themselves in the shoes of others or just plain didn’t care. Now I may never be able to wear the shoes of Brio or Hassai when it comes to tanking business. I do try to make a concerted effort to listen to them and see where they’re coming from if they feel the need to say anything. Don’t ignore your guys and don’t brush them aside.

General Ineptitude

Some people just should not be trusted with leadership. It’s sad to say, I know. Not everyone is capable of being a Michael Jordan or a Tiger Woods. Not everyone is meant to lead. Whatever the reason is, bad leaders will eventually lead to a fractured organization that will have no future as a worst case scenario. Maybe they don’t have the social skills or the time. Perhaps they can’t take the disciplinary actions required to do something. If a guild loses faith in its leader and no longer has confidence, something needs to change before it deteriorates further.

Where does this leave us?

I can’t just talk the talk. I have to walk the walk. If I can’t back up my words or beliefs, then I am no better than some of the GM’s I’ve had in the past. But by being aware of what makes bad leadership, I can consciously make an effort to steer myself away from the behavior that made them that way.

I’m in a unique position since I have several bloggers in my guild who aren’t afraid to call me out and keep my honest. It’s in my best interest to not suck and to do the right thing. I can’t just hold myself accountable to my guild. I also need to hold myself accountable to my readers.

Here’s a challenge for the WoW bloggers and readers out there.

What makes your GM great?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Whether it’s stories about bad experiences or good experiences, others including myself would surely benefit.

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership

Build Your Own Guild Part 4: Leadership


If you can, dear readers, stretch your reflective faculties for a moment and recall the first article in the Build Your Own Guild series, in which I urged future GMs to start forming an officer corps. This entry will delve a little deeper into the question of leadership and show you how to construct and maintain your guild’s hierarchy. The principal lesson here is delegate, delegate, DELEGATE! This article will show you how officers and GMs work together to govern the unique virtual organizations we so casually refer to as guilds.

History Lesson: Getting Medieval

I would like to meditate for a moment on the word “guild” and its history, as I think its origins are rather instructive for MMO players. A guild, in the medieval sense of the word, is an association of tradesmen, artists, or craftsmen. Guilds oversee the production and distribution of material goods, and they regulate both practitioners of a trade and the larger market in which that type of product is bought and sold. My favorite guild example dates to cinquecento Italy. Imagine Renaissance Venice, her canals a-stink with the smells of a thriving fishing industry, her now-white palazzi ablaze with murals in every color of the rainbow. Somewhere in the Serenissima, probably next door to the leather-curers guild or the paper-makers guild, Tiziano Vecellio runs his own workshop. He sees himself as a craftsman, rather than an artist, producing goods for sale. He is the Master, and his is the signature on most of the products. His employees, however, are also craftsmen, some of them as talented as the master, and Journeyman and Apprentices work together to create great pieces of art. Sure, Tiziano himself may be the one to sketch the Madonna’s face, but what about her hands? Guess what? Renaissance art was a cooperative enterprise, and just look at the product. Pretty fantastic, eh?

Why the long excursus into metaphor, you ask? For you, the prospective GM, the setup of your guild is your masterpiece–the way you do things at the beginning will prove to all your members that you are a capable leader, someone they can trust. But like Tiziano, you can’t go it alone. You will need help, and the end “product” that you create–namely, excellence in raiding–will be a group effort.

Choosing Officers

If you’re contemplating setting up your own build, you probably have a few people in mind for officer positions. Make sure, however, that your officer corps is not composed entirely of your best friends and your significant other. For a raiding guild, you need a balance of power, and this means bringing people into leadership positions who represent different constituencies and have different perspectives. You will also need to limit the number of officers to a manageable size–too large, and every member who’s not an officer will start to feel left out. The following are my quick tips for forming a workable officer corps.

1. Size

If you plan to focus exclusively on 10-man raid progression in Wrath, your optimal number of officers (including yourself in this number) will be three. That means that there will always be a tiebreaker vote. The percentage of officers to members will still be rather high, especially if you are a niche guild and limit yourselves down to 20 or so players. I think this model will be extremely workable in Wrath. The good news is that if you form a guild of this size, your work as GM will be much less, and you will not need to define each officer’s role to the nth degree. The three of you would each probably be capable of handling any questions your members have, and all members will know the officers personally.

For the 25-man size, the task is more difficult. I suggest either three or five primary officers (including yourself of course). Three will be just fine if you plan to also have class or role leaders to do some of the work, but if you do without them, expand up to five so that you can cover all the necessary tasks. I actually recommend against having class leaders. That model worked better in Vanilla WoW, when specs were less differentiated and there were more people to manage.

2. Diversity of Talents

All of your officers should not excel at the same aspect of the game. They should not be three healers or three dps. You should include your primary Raid Leader in the officer corps, but the other members do not have to be your best players or best strategists. One of them, at least, should be computer-savvy enough to build and maintain your website, if you cannot do so yourself. Try to find people with different interests. And yes, sometimes this means looking beyond your immediate circle of friends. Caution: it may seem attractive to a new GM to appoint as an officer someone who has been a GM in the past. Be careful–this person might be so used to leading that he chafes at just being an officer and effectively undermines the officer corps’ decisions. Have a very thorough talk with any officers with GM backgrounds so that the guild hierarchy–whatever it is–is clear to them.

3. Diversity of Perspectives

Your guild is a raiding guild, so most of your officer conversations will be about raiding, and almost all of your planning will be dedicated to raid progress. You do not, however, need to find officers who agree 100% with your vision. It is best, in fact, if officers to some degree serve as checks and balances for each other. For a real life example, in my guild, raiding is important to every one of our eight officers (yes, too many!) but within that general category, our priorities fall under several subheadings. For some real-life examples, in Collateral Damage, our Raid Leader wants everything to be well-organized, transparent, and planned out ahead of time. The officer who manages our Loot system wants all policies to be fair and all goods to be distributed equally. Our personnel officer focuses on the human side of things–she wants to make sure that no one feels left out. And me? Believe it or not, I’m always the one pushing for faster progress and stricter requirements.

4. Open Positions

When you introduce your brand-new guild to the world, you probably won’t have the perfect balance of officers yet. I suggest starting out with yourself and one other person (or for the large guild model, two) and promoting the rest of your officer corps after you actually begin raiding. You need to see how people operate in their new guild context, but you can’t do all the work alone at the beginning.

Your Management Hierarchy

Let’s imagine that your guild is up and running and you’ve identified and promoted four other people to work with you. Now what do you do? I have seen guilds flounder at just this juncture. People become officers, but it’s a vanity position. There are no clear duties and no opportunity for leadership. In practice, the GM runs the guild by himself. Or worse, no one runs the guild. No events are scheduled, and people associate with each other only in guild chat. Here are 5 ways to avoid the no-leadership quagmire.

1. Weekly Officer Meetings

Schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time, and hold a meeting every week. Believe me, you’ll have a lot to talk about–some of CD’s run upwards of three hours, and they were longest at the very beginning. You should at the very least check in with the guild’s progress, set the raid schedule for the week, and vote on any potential recruits. This is also a good time to talk through the inevitable member complaints and make plans to address them.

2. Give Each Officer a Specific Task

You chose officers with different talents for a reason. Assuming you’re a large guild with 5 officers, here’s a sample breakdown. As GM, feel free to snap up the role you like best, but if it’s your name at the bottom of the guild panel, expect a secondary job as QQ filter. Your five officers could best divide into the following roles:

a. Raid leader and strategist
b. Loot system manager (if you use Loot Council, this person tracks drops received)
c. Personnel officer (this person takes attendance and tracks raider status/performance)
d. Recruiting officer (woot! This is what I do)
e. Website manager (don’t underestimate this one–it’s a TON of work)

As GM, you need to funnel any specific questions or complaints to the officer who specializes in that area. People will want to talk to you too, but if you get a loot-specific question, pull the loot system manager into vent with you when you talk to that player. You will find that your officers will become experts in their area of expertise.

3. Strive for Consensus

When there is a decision on the horizon, particularly if it’s an important one, don’t just flex your GM muscles and make the call yourself. Discuss any decision that has far-reaching implications in the guild meeting, and let each officer present his or her opinions. Very likely, some of you will disagree on any issue that’s halfway worth talking about. As GM, you may feel tempted to go with your own opinion after nominal discussion, but I urge you to wait it out and let people make full arguments, especially when they feel passionately about something. There should be give and take. If two parties disagree, have them propose compromise solutions until each of them can live with the new policy.

4. Hold Votes on Important Issues

Your officers can only serve as checks and balances for each other if you give them power. Try for consensus first, but what you may find is that not everyone speaks up every time a new policy is on the table. If everyone cannot agree after a reasonable amount of discussion, as GM, it is your responsibility to call for a vote. Except in dire circumstances, abide by that vote. Remember: if you have power as GM, it is only because others entrust you with it. Allowing them a voice will convince your fellow officers to stick around and support you. My guild–which has no GM, only officers–has just now put in a voting policy. We felt that compromises were sometimes worked out only among the most vocal officers, and in any case sometimes we would have 12 hours of discussion over many weeks with no solution reached. We’ve decided to hold votes after 2-4 hours of discussion on a topic when we can’t come to consensus. I am in full support of this idea–even though I’m one of the loud people! If you never vote, you may create a situation in which one person can veto any idea by holding out on the compromise. That can lead to guild stagnation, particularly if it’s a regular occurrence. Sometimes your officers will have to agree to disagree.

5. Know When to Play the GM Card

If you’re going to be the first among equals, you have to know when to step in and put an end to debate. Maybe votes are inconclusive too, or your officers just can’t come up with a decision. In those cases, use your best judgment and lay down the law. Don’t do this too often though–a GM whose attitude screams: “It’s my guild and I can do what I want with it!” won’t be in power for long.

Conclusions

It’s not very fun to be the Supreme Emperor of a nation of one. If you want a happy, healthy, resilient guild, you will need a power structure that puts some of the authority in other people’s hands. Build trust with your officers, and always treat them with respect. They are both your friends and your work colleagues, and the relative unity that the officer corps presents to the guild will determine your success or failure in endgame raiding. People want to feel that their leaders are both well-organized and fair. Use the GM/officer dynamic to create that feeling, and you’re well on your way to climbing up the rankings on your server.

Assigning Healing Strategy – Part 3: The Pivot Healer

Assigning Healing Strategy – Part 3: The Pivot Healer

Welcome to the third in a 5 part series here on World of Matticus. For the next several weeks, I’ll be covering the rare topic of assigning raid heals. No one really wants to do it but it’s the most important job in the raid and I’ll provide a basic overview of the process and some advanced tips!

In case you missed it:

  1. Week 1: Recognizing Class Strengths
  2. Week 2: Double Shifting Your Healers

Last week, I discussed the concept of double shifting your healers. I instructed that it is possible to assign one person to look after more than 2 people simultaneously. This week, I’m going to discuss the pivot healer.

What is the pivot healer?

Simply put, pivot healers are single target healers that switch between two or more assignments. It’s a technique to make life a little easier for your healing lead. It’s a way to minimize idle healers and recycle them.

A case study

Still unsure of what I’m referring to? Let me give you an example.

The first dual phase fight that comes to my mind is that of Leotheras. There are two main tanks required for the encounter and they alternate themselves depending on what phase Leo is. If Leo is a demon, the Warlock tanks him. If Leo is in his Elf form, he get’s controlled by a standard tank.

In true Matticus-like fashion, I’ll park 2 Paladins and a Priest on the main tank during Elf mode. Once phase 2 hits and Leo turns super saiyan, the same 2 Paladins and Priest immediately pivot over to the Warlock tank. At this point in time, the main tank is no longer taking the brunt of the damage so the healers that were on them can be rotated off of them.

pivot

And that’s today’s lecture! Hopefully the really cheesy graphic above can help illustrate what I’m trying to say. Remember they switch targets after a phase is over and look after whoever is holding the attention of the boss!