Tough Call: How do I turn them around?

Tough Call: How do I turn them around?

ComputerRepair

The other day it occurred to me that as a leader, we are judged twice: Once by how we handle success, and once by how we handle problems.

So by now you’ve determined that one of your officers needs to step up their game and contribute more to your rampantly successful organization.  Presuming you still feel they can be a valuable part of your leadership team, this leaves you with two standard options:

  1. Ignore it and hope the situation fixes itself
  2. Violently strike, shake or punch them
  3. Coach them to success

Method 1: Ignore it

Let me know how this works. 

Actually, I’d bet that a fair amount of people are reading this because they’ve already tried this method and realized it never changes.

Method 2: Violence

“We have not yet developed the technology to punch someone over a standard TCP/IP connection.”

- Lodur

So unless you’re a Jedi and can Force Choke someone, this method is sort of a wash, too.

Method 3: Coaching/Wake-Up Call

Part of leadership is motivation, and that doesn’t start and stop with your members.  Your officers need back-up, direction, vision and support on a regular basis.  The only thing that changes is your tactics and means of implementation.

Of course, how this situation came to be and what path you choose from here is largely based on your leadership style.  What follows below likely fits best within an organized style of leadership.  If you run a more chaotic/organic guild, some of this could seem foreign. 

As with any relationship, the GM/Officer paradigm requires give and take.  You both need to know what is expected of each other, so there are no assumptions later on.  It really helps to lay these things out, and to write them down.  Do not presume you will remember all the details later, because you won’t. 

Re-Defining their Responsibilities

Their domain: Are they in charge of all melee, or just tanks?  Do they coach healers outside of the raid, or is that done by the Morale Officer?  In your head, who should be going to them before coming to you?

  • Expectations: What goals have you set for their area of responsibility?  Just “play well” isn’t really a goal.  Zero missed interrupts, DPS that ranks on WoL every night, better cooldown coordination between healers.  These are examples of things they can work on.  Remember, people derive comfort from achieving goals.  
  • Extra Duties: Are they expected to pitch-in on recruiting?  Are they expected to be the sole recruiter for their area?  Do they need to make sure they set aside time to assess your back-ups?  Do they need to contribute to strat development before raid?
  • Rules are there for a reason: Whether it’s your rule or a rule they made up, we are judged by how and when we implement our rules.  If an officer feels like a particular rule (such as talking to players before cutting them, or organising who sits out on which fight, or ensuring loot is distributed correctly) then the situation needs to be examined.
  • Assistance: Tell them what you can do to help them, and when you want/expect to be asked for help.
  • Clarity: Be clear about when and how often you want to update each other.  Some guilds can do this quickly each night, some prefer a weekly officer meeting.  Develop a routine.
  • Desire: Ask them if these are all things they want to do.  Perhaps they are good at some things and not yet ready for others.  If falls to you to decide what they should be handling and when you should be giving them more to do.

Hand-in-Hand with all that, comes your fair share of the culpability.  After-all, it’s your guild, and, even though a lot of GM tasks are intangible, everyone needs to know what you’re doing so they can follow with confidence.

Defining the GM’s Responsibility

  • Tell them what you do for them
  • Tell them what additional things you will do for them now
  • Be clear with what you expect to be a GM-level issue, and what you think is best handled by them
  • Be very clear that your job is to ask questions, and this is just something you will need to do. Nobody should be offended when you make your inquiries.  Afterall, “not checking is not managing”.

Hopefully these tips will give you some good ideas when you find yourself having to coach one of your officers.

Next week: How Cataclysm has changed Guild Structures

As always, please leave your questions/comments/feedback/marriage proposals below.  I love to read them on these rainy spring days while curl up in my official Matticus Snuggie*.

Note: No such product exists.

Raid Leading 101: 3 Important Communication Tips

Last week, we covered some of the basic pro’s and con’s to both 10- and 25-man raid styles. Thanks everyone to their input and comments. I’ll be updating the post soon to get those new items in there! This week, we cover the art of communication.

Now that you’ve donned the crown of Raid Leader, you have to pontificate with your subjects… meaning you have to talk to your raiders. This sometimes can be the hardest aspect of the job. You definitely have to be more “on the ball” than the other people on the team. In my time as a raider, and also as a Raid Leader, I’ve always found the best Raid Leaders have been great communicators.

Choosing Your Style

When I raid, I like a positive and friendly environment. In raid environments, I usually do best when people are laughing, smiling, and overall having a good time. This is a game for me, and although I take it seriously, I work hard to make sure people are having fun. As a Raid Leader, I try to impress that upon my raiders.

It’s on you, as Raid Leader, to decide how you’re going to motivate your team. Positive reinforcement? Brow-beating? Drill Sergeant? I’m particularly biased towards the positive reinforcement, but I also see the benefits of other styles as well. Think of it this way:

  • You can take each good thing from a wipe and build on it. Encourage that kind of behavior or style of playing. Praise the healers for an excellent job handling that attempt, even if they ended up wiping.
  • You can point out the faults in each attempt, in an effort to discourage that from happening again. Even take it farther and threaten substitution if it happens again. Point out that if the mage doesn’t move the split second he needs to, he’s getting replaced.
  • You can be the strong, silent type. No news is good news. Set your assignments, and let the raiders discover what went wrong.

Either way you go, you must be aware of what kind of style you possess. This will easily decide what kind of raiders you’re going to have. There are plenty of raiders out there that enjoy different styles of raiding. Some like tough competition, some like the team environment. Be conscious of the tone you’re setting, whatever that may be.

Your Intentions

Just like in the olden days when a gentleman would court a lady, they would state their intentions. You must do the same. This goes back to our discussion on motivation. Have you been honest with yourself about your motivation? What do you want to achieve? How do you want to go about it (all things we’ll eventually cover)? You need to be up front with your raiders on what the goal of this adventure is:

  • What size are you going with? 10 or 25?
  • Are you going to work towards heroics? or just normal?
  • Are you bringing close friends? or are you valuing performance over history?
  • What sort of attendance policy do you intend to have?

By setting out the groundwork to your raiders, there’s very little room for guessing on your part. When you talk things out, it solidifies it in your own mind. Also, all of your raiders and potential recruits will know what they’re getting into, and what to expect.

Honesty is the Best Policy

An awesome line from my favorite movie, Swingers: “Respect my ass. What they respect is honesty.” The same holds true for being a Raid Leader. You need to be a straight shooter. If you want someone on your team, you need to be up front about it. If something’s not working out, you gotta speak up.

I’ve learned this first hand as a Raid Leader. **STORY TIME** When I was running the original Team Sport raids, we had a warlock that was never up to snuff. We tried to be up front from the beginning about what we expected of the raid team, and we knew that this warlock wasn’t up to it. Nice person, and fun player but just didn’t have the extra “oomph” to raid at the level we wanted to. Constantly long AFKs, not paying attention in fights, etc. Since we let it go on for so long, it had become acceptable to this player to act like that. When it came down to saying that we wanted to move forward but without the warlock, we were met with some unnecessary drama.

Essentially, if we had been honest up front regarding what we expected and that the warlock’s behavior wasn’t what we were looking for, we would’ve saved a lot of trouble. Now, within the Raid Team, I have little to no problem telling people that not signing up is unacceptable, or that not having food/flask is not gonna cut it. I’m not a jerk about it, but I’m honest with my raiders about what I expect of them on the team, and when they’re not getting invites or raid spots, they should know why.

How have you stepped up to the task of communicating to your raid? Are there any alternate methods/tips you’ve used that have been particularly efficient?

Guild Goals: Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids

Guild Goals: Deciding Between Normal Raids and Heroic Raids

10s-raiding-25s-raiding

A number of guilds are beginning to have their members approach level 80. Now they’re stuck at a cross roads. Do I raid 10s or 25s? Setting a raid to Normal difficulty allows only 10 players to enter. Toggling it to Heroic allows 25.

First question GMs need to answer is what kind of raiding guild are you? I’m not referring to casual or hardcore or anything like that. I’m not interested in your style. I’m referring to your end game goals and intentions. When I formed Conquest a few weeks ago, this was the first question that popped into my head. I felt that it was important for a GM to define what their end game is so that steps can be taken towards achieving it.

I basically had 3 options when it came to guild endgame objectives:

  • Strictly 10 mans
  • Strictly 25 mans
  • Both 10s and 25 mans

Not only that, I had to make a choice for myself as a player. If you think about it in terms of BC, this would’ve been tantamount to running SSC, TK, Karazhan, and 2 or 3 resets of Zul’Aman per week. I wanted to commit to no more than 12 hours of raiding per week because a lot of players have other things to do.

Looking at that list, I crossed 10 mans off the list. I am far too ambitious for that.

This left me with the option of either 25s or guild sanctioned 10s and 25s. I had to deliberate this a bit more. Having to organize both 10s and 25s meant extra organizational and logistical work on my part. Since most drops from 10s will be replaced anyway, it made much more sense to me as the GM to stick the guild into the 25s.

Factors

Organizational and logistical: I’d have to plan out raid days for 25s and I’d have to plan out raid days for 10s. I would have to run 2 separate raid groups which would involves its own unique set of challenges. I have to pick out the days for the right group. I have to ensure there’s enough tanks and healers. What happens if someone can’t make it? I’d have to scramble to find replacements. That’s too overwhelming for me to do.

Time: 12 hours of mandatory raiding per week is all I ask for. My experience in beta taught me that 12 is the right amount of time to spend in order to clear out all of the raid instances. To ask them to do more would tax their stamina and increase burnout which is something I want to avoid. Throw in 10s and I could be looking at 20 hours a week of raiding. I won’t even consider that.

Increased freedom and autonomy: By not making mandatory 10 mans, I give them the option of participating in it on their own. From a personal standpoint, I have almost no innate desire to run Naxx 10’s. I suppose that was a side effect of the beta. The 10 man instances are nice, but they’re just not my cup of tea. Between blogging and school, it’s difficult for me to find the time to run 10s on top of the 25s. If players have friends in different guilds, they don’t have to feel obligated to turn down runs with their friends for the sake of guild runs. I make it known that they are on their own. There’s always a few people in guild that feel otherwise and I’m sure they’re capable enough of organizing runs on their own.

Besides, I prefer Earl Grey.

At the end of the day, I decided to give my guys the choice. They can run whatever 10 man they like on their own time with whoever they want, however they want. Loot Council won’t be responsible for how the drops are done.

And it becomes one less burden. This belief plays into the concept of the path of least resistance assuming 25s are the primary objective.

4 Key Guild Related Tasks to do Before Wrath Hits

4 Key Guild Related Tasks to do Before Wrath Hits

Its Wrath Boarding time!

The Wrath plane has landed and passengers are boarding soon! Are you going to be taking it first class or taking the back seat in the economy section?

Veneretio wrote a hot post about dealing with the last few weeks before the new expansion hits and the game resets.

So what does Vene say is the most basic thing to keep in mind as time passes by? His number 1 is to continue to make goals for yourself. He admits that “a lot of what you get now [will be] replaced later”. I’m inclined to agree. Even the most equipped players will be hanging up their present armor and gear once they approach the upper level 70s.

For me, most of my hard work was done over the summer. My reputation has largely been grinded out. The last one was Sporregar (which I felt took forever, personally). I may not have enough gold to live and spend lavishly, it will be enough to function comfortably once raiding expeditions start up again. I’m not as invested in my alts as other players are. I level them and gear them to the point where I know I can switch healers if necessary for raids with different people. My Priest is my main and any fun stuff like Achievements and Titles go straight to him.

While Vene says to make goals, Matticus has another rule that’s more prominent:

Relax!

I’ve played this game hard for over 2 years with intermittent breaks. Realistically, the point at which we start raiding as a 25 man unit will not occur until the Christmas holiday arrives. This means that most raiders will be out of action due to Christmas and New Year parties. This pushes back our raiding until early January.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to take it easy as much as I can over the next few weeks. Outside of WoW, I have a few papers, several exams, and a presentation to deliver. The assignments are due within 3 weeks. The presentation is due 4 days after Wrath releases (and I want to finish constructing it first so I don’t have to over the weekend).

Now is the time to get all the real life stuff out of the way. Finish off your work projects. Get cracking on school essays. Bury yourself in the textbooks and take time away from the game where it doesn’t matter as much anyway. If you have goals to complete, then by all means, go ahead and try to get them done. But leave a bit of room for yourself if you’re a progression oriented player who wants to sky rocket to 80.

Revisit loot

Numerous guilds will be wiping their DKP systems and starting fresh. Take the time to examine your loot system. Find out what worked and what didn’t. What would you have changed differently? Try bringing it up as soon as you can. Work out any kinks or problems with the loot system so that you don’t have to do it later when it matters the most: In the middle of a raid.

Roster check

Examine your roster again. Try to ascertain who is likely to stay and who is likely to go. Find out if there’s any holes in there that need to be plugged. My guild has lost a Rogue already and we may lose a mage. We realize that we can always sift through and acquire replacements during the leveling process, its far better to find players now so that the guild can spend more time knowing about new players.

Promotions

Now is an excellent time for promotions. If anyone is stepping down or retiring from the game, its a good time to find players who have demonstrated veteran and leadership qualities to take their place. Raid leaders: Let others take over. See if anyone has expressed interest in doing so. Try to find alternative raid leaders to run your raids. It’s great to have alternate leaders in place in case your main guy needs to sit for a while. There are no less than 6 people in my guild who are qualified to run and lead raids.

One of my guild officers have stepped down and I’ve been promoted. If you do decide to promote someone, the most important thing you can do is outline their tasks. Tell them straight up front what they are expected to do. I signed a 2 month contract as an officer because I wasn’t sure if I was willing to do this long term. I’ve served in a leadership position before but I didn’t feel particularly effective at the time. In my case, I’m being asked to provide healer presence to officer chat and contribute to raid strategy. I also get a vote in what raid directions the guild should go in. I’ only agreed to do this on the interim. Between responsibilities with my blog, WoW Insider, and school I don’t know if this is a position where I can actually contribute to.

Wrap up loose ends! Get it done quick whether its real life related or in game related! Need a title? Hurry and join a group or form it on your own! Want to push reputation? Start soon before people stop running certain instances!

Quick leak: WoW Insider’s going to be doing a quick and comprehensive guide for the various classes when 3.0.2 becomes official. The brass wants us to outline major talents, and changes to the way we operate and other things of interest.

Help me out. I have to write something up by Sunday. I already wrote about healing at level 80. What would you like to know about Holy Priests at level 70 in regards to the new patch?

I plan on including stuff about:

  • Talent suggestions
  • Quick spell overviews
  • Game mechanics that affect us

Anything else you can think of?

Image credits: photos71

Guest Post: A First Look at a Feeder Guild

This is a guest post from Galadria. She represents half of the knowledge from the Light and the Dark.

We’ll start with a sample scenario. You are a member of l33t Guild, part of the raid core. Your guild is farming the lower bosses of TK/SSC and trying to down Vashj and Kael to get into Hyjal/BT. Since most of your raid core doesn’t need gear out of T4 content, it’s basically PUG. Whoever can throw a run together does whenever they happen to be in the mood. Since the raid core doesn’t want to have wipe fests, when they do farm that content (for badges or off spec gear) they tend to do it with each other so they can blow through it quickly. One day JoeRogue; who has been raiding in Kara for a while and gone on a few runs of Gruul and Mag, asks that oft dreaded question in Gchat:

    “How come I never get to raid?”

This sets off a fevered discussion with much flaming from the raid core and much grousing from lower echelons of the guild. The core raiders don’t want to hear it, they’ve put in the time and effort to be where they are. The lower ranked players feel shafted, they never get a chance at better gear or to show the raid leaders that they can play competently.

Overlooking the fact that there seems to be a bunch of whining, it shows a problem I think a lot of guild at this level have. The guild is split between those that are part of the progression raiding and well geared, and those that are just getting Kara keyed or just out of Kara, and learning how to raid. These two groups have different needs from the guild. Both groups need structured, scheduled raid time for their level of content, lead by a competent RL to make things go smoothly. They just need different content.

Requirements

Kara (1-2 nights), Gruul (1 night), Mag (1 night), SSC (probably 2 nights), TK (probably 2 nights). If you stacked groups correctly, you could do Kara in 1 night and Gruul and Mag in the same night. That’s still 6 nights of scheduled raiding! I don’t see many guild leaders (in average guilds) being able to handle that.

As I see it you have a few options:

Option 1

Let the lower level players fend for themselves. They can probably make in-guild PUG Kara/ZA runs without much problem but Gruul/Mag is going to be a lot for some random person with a little initiative to get together. This may lead to unhappy players in your lower ranks. However, since they’re not part of your progression team you may not care if they come or go but I tend to think that’s kind of a crappy way to deal with the situation.

Option 2

Another option is to be up front with this group and tell them that you will not be scheduling any events at their level of progression and if they want to experience that content they should find a guild at their level to grow with. This is tough since a lot of these people will be friends of members of your raid core. I think it’s good to be up front and honest, and you’re doing them a favor by letting them know that you are not able to meet their needs. It can be up to them to find someone who can.

Option 3

What I think is the best option is to establish what I call the Feeder Guild. This can be a separate entity or a sub-set of your existing guild. This guild becomes a leveling and early raiding guild that prepares your lower level players for higher content. This option will take more work at the beginning to get started, but will be worth it in the end.

You’ll need to find someone (or a couple of people) who have the organizational skills and the drive to run the show. This person should be outfitted with the resources and responsibilities to organize your lower level raids for those that need/want them. It’s also a good idea to get a few of your higher level raiders willing to help out. Even a few above level players can make a huge difference in how smooth a raid goes. If you don’t have anyone willing to help, you can consider offering a small amount of DKP for an incentive with a weekly limit.

This is also a great way for your Raid Core to get their alts into the lower level raids. Just about every 70 raider that I know has and alt (or 5) and most of them have been at it long enough to have another 70. They always seem to ask to take their alts on Kara runs. Here’s a great opportunity to get them access into regular runs of lower level raids.

Splitting the raiding responsibilities between 2 groups means a manageable 2-4 nights of raiding for each group.

Each group can also handle loot individually. I know a lot of guilds tend to throw DKP out the window for lower level raids. Then the guy who’s been playing with your guild for a while can get unlucky on a roll and loose loot he’s been waiting for to a guy who just joined looking for some quick purples.

As with everything else, this is a highly personal situation. What works for one guild will not necessarily work for another. You may be really picky about who gets a ginvite and don’t have this problem since you don’t let anyone in that’s not geared well enough. You may let everyone and their dog into the guild, but don’t really care if they get any raid time. If however, you do have a similar situation, consider this solution.