The Care and Keeping of Recruits

Welcome mat

One of the best bosses I ever had was fond of saying:

“Expectations without support erode trust.”

My beloved guild lets me handle pretty much anything to do with Priests, without making me be an actual officer. I do the recruiting and the interviews, I give input on Priest-related loot council and raid spots, and make the recommendation for full membership. I appreciate the respect and autonomy my Raid Leader and Officers have given me, and in return I make sure that our Priest-corps is always prepared to do the best we can.

Sydera recently wrote a great article on how to recruit a healer, and the 10th step hit home: Follow up:

Your guild has a new healer, and you are the person she knows best. Serve as her mentor, and check in with her often. If the guild isn’t happy with your recruit’s performance, be the one to explain why. If it seems that the guild is a good fit, be her champion when the officers vote on whether she should be promoted to full member.

This is so unbelievably true, and I think is a huge reason that some guilds experience high amounts of recruit turn-over. They can get players in the door, but one or two epics later, they’re gone again. The reason seems to be that the new raiders never really found a warm welcome, or a sense of belonging – just a lot of high-pressure to perform with little feedback and even less help. Here’s how I avoid turnover with my recruits, and help them realize their Priestly potential.

Set Clear Expectations

This process starts in the interview. Be explicit with your expectations – gear, consumables, punctuality, and attendance. I tell Holy recruits that I’m looking for a Priest to take my place. I want them to out-heal me, to be more familiar with the class and fights than I am, and to teach me a thing or two. If they accept that challenge, I tell them I will help them gear up, adjust their UI’s and learn the fights – and invite them to my guild.

Give A Sense of Structure

Tell them what the Raid schedule typically is. Sure, they may know that you raid M-Th 6-10 server, but if you know that Monday is guaranteed to be a progression boss with no Trials in attendance, tell them. If you don’t know exactly what’s on the menu, at least give them the options for the next day. It could go something like this: “We’ll probably raid Sunwell tomorrow, so be prepared for that. If [Paladin] can’t come, it’ll be BT. You’ll be required for BT, but may have the night off if it’s Sunwell.” That way, they can plan ahead – they may need time to farm shadow resist gear, or different consumables. They may need to adjust their dailies for more repair bill or respec money. Be courteous, and give them the information they’l need to make a good impression.

Make Yourself Available

Let the recruit know when you’ll be available for last minute questions before the raid. Seek them out, and ask them what assistance they need – not if they need assistance. (A subtle but important difference.) Remember, you’re the recruiting officer of the big, scary progression guild – and that can be intimidating, even if the night before you told them to seek you out.

Make Sure They’re Really Prepared

At this point, you know their gear is okay from the interview. But raid-prep can get glossed over. Typically, I ask specific questions about a few things:

  • Do you have enough elixirs, flasks, and mana pots?
  • Do you have enough food?
  • Do you have enough cash for repairs and/or respecs?
  • Do you have enough reagents?
  • I also make sure that I’m clear about my definition of “enough”. Their old guild might have been okay with 10 elixirs and 20 candles. I carry full stacks of 3 kinds of elixirs and 200 candles. Don’t get me started on food, pots, oils, and flasks. The idea is to avoid any lack of communication that could result in your recruit being singled out as unprepared. You know what the expectations are, but they do not. Help them. Personally, I always bring enough consumables to a recruit’s first raid for both of us. If they forget anything or need anything, I want them to ask ME in a whisper, not the raid in vent. These small things matter, and a recruit who is nervous over something as minor as reagents will not perform at their best. Help them make the best first impression they can.

    Raid Mechanics

    Most guilds are pretty good about making sure recruits get a run-down of how the fight is done – even with a basically similar strat, most guilds have a few quirks that should be explained to avoid confusion. What gets missed are the details of how your Raid works overall. Make sure your new player knows any extra channels they should join (class channel, healer channel, etc.), what officer gives out the target-assignments, and how to bid for loot (& whether they’re eligible.) It’s not as big an issue with DPSers, but for healers, give specific healing assignments. “Heal Joe”  may mean something to you, but if it is really Joeblaze, the Warlock tank in Group 4, that could make a difference. Also, if you’re in a situation where tanks are passing aggro – think Netherspite, Hydross, BloodBoil, or Kalecgos – and calling on vent, make sure players know to say their names.”I’ve got it!” wastes time, but “Stefizzle, taunting” means new healers don’t have to guess whose voice goes with what .

    Give Feedback

    I’ve made my position on meters pretty clear. They’re a very visible part of my UI. One of the biggest reasons is that I’ve noticed the best way to improve performance is to give timely feedback, whether positive or negative. With Recount open at all times, I can tell if my new CoH Priest is using CoH 84% of the time, and not using ProM at all. More importantly, I can tell him how to modify his style to improve, right now. I can also quicky find out how much overhealing is going on, whether the right targets are being healed, what was responsible for killing someone, and any other information that allows me to analyse my recruits’ performances. (Personally, I also set the recruit as my focus – I pay attention to their casting bar, spell rank, timing, target, health and mana levels.) Creepy? Sure. Relevant? Absolutely. Telling a DPSer that they need 10k more output to catch up with the mage above them, or a healer that another 3k will top that Shammy gets results. They work harder and faster. When they do well, I’ll also link the meter in the appropriate channel. Nothing makes someone’s day like showing them in the #1 spot to the whole raid. (I usually just link the first or second spots to avoid high amounts of spam.)

    Back Them Up

    Sometimes, bad things happen. Players die, raids wipe – and in the spirit of fixing it, we all look for the cause. Be an advocate for your recruit. It’s easy to blame the new healer for the Tank’s death, but if you know the real problem was something else, speak up. What are sound reasons coming from you may sound like excuses coming from them. On the other hand, If the problem really WAS the recruit, you can help them fix it.

    When They Struggle

    Even the best applicants can turn out to be lackluster players. Be prepared to talk to them, either 1:1 or with your Raid Leader, about their perspective on the problem, and possible solutions. Provide resources outside the game for them to peruse and soak up information. In the end, if they’re not a good fit, or not talented enough to keep up with the content, you’ll both be able to make the best decision – no waiting to “see if they get better or whether they just need a little more experience”.

    If you’ve given them the help, environment, and resources they need to be successful, you can part company on good terms – and they, with a full understanding of your expectations, may even be able to refer other players who would be a better fit.

    And you thought the hardest part of recruiting was finding good players! The thing to remember is that different personality types thrive in different environments. Personally, nothing will make me perform better than a situation where I have to fight to prove that I’m the best – provided that once I’ve done so, the achievement is recognized. Others seem to need a bit more coaching, and relatively well-defined requirements and goals. Tailor your leadership style to their needs; don’t force them to conform to you. Just remember that although their job is to impress you, your job is to make sure that they know how to do theirs.

    Luv,
    Wyn

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    Comments

    1. Hi Wynthea,

      This is a great article and I am going to forward/link it to our guild leader and officers. It is a good baseline to follow when dealing with new recruits. Overall I’m happy with how we deal with new players, but giving it a more serious thought can never hurt.

    2. You know as much as I like your article I do not think I fully agree with what you are saying

      I am not a big believer that top end raiding guilds should hand hold any new recruit. While explaining a certain boss strat to a new guildie is probably important due to the multitude ways in which it can done, asking a new recruit if he brought mana pots too me is well quite frankly insulting

      As for feedback on how they are doing. At this point in the game and that level of the game players should know what they are doing. Dieing alot or just poor performance should not be tolerated. While you can always try and give people tips on how to improve there should be a certain level of competence that is expected

      Ill give you an example with my guild. We have a certain class that rhymes with bollocks. Our bollocks are all really geared out but for the life of them they cannot crack the top 5 in DPS in any fight. Too me this should be unacceptable but we do not critique our raid performance at all which has probably led to a lack of progess on our part. The recruits we brought in to fufill that role never performed(at least in my eyes) they way they should have and were never held accountable for that. Now we are stuck with them and were trying to do Sunwell and I honestly dont think we will ever pass Brutallus because of it.

    3. That’s kind of the whole POINT, Doc.

      “At this point in the game and that level of the game players should know what they are doing….poor performance should not be tolerated.”

      Yes, I agree. 100%. On the other hand:

      “Our ‘locks…cannot crack the top 5 in DPS in any fight. To me this should be unacceptable but we do not critique our raid performance at all which has probably led to a lack of progress on our part. The recruits we brought in to fulfill that role never performed…they way they should have and were never held accountable for that. Now we are stuck with them and were trying to do Sunwell and I honestly don’t think we will ever pass Brutallus because of it.

      You refuted your own argument, dear.

      In a perfect world, all applicants to end-game raiding guilds would be fiery theory-crafting machines. They would show up prepared, repaired, and on time. They would have gear equal to the intended content.

      Truth? Players who fit that description are probably not looking for a new guild. Therefore, given natural attrition rates, any guild wishing to stay alive and progress must constantly seek out and DEVELOP new talent.

      These are the baby-steps of how to do just that. Whether they are a good return on the investment is up to them.

    4. No what i was trying to say with our guild (with which I have very little input) is that because they did not critique or scrutinize them enough at the beginning we are kinda stuck with a less then average player with good gear

      Then what begins to happen is that when you reach that brick wall with less then average players and you begin to scrutinize them….look out it aint pretty

    5. Actually what you wrote here would work wonderful for people starting a new guild I am thinking

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