Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
From time to time it seems like most guilds go through a period where the officers just sort of lose interest. For whatever reason, they reach a point where they can't find the motivation anymore. This week's e-mail is from a guild member frustrated by her officers.
I'm in a "casual" guild where casual means we don't have any military policies about raiding. However, we do raid Karazhan and much of the guild is interested in some light progression at least along the 10 man instances (and heroics).
My guild, I am a member, not leader or officer, is suffering the blahs. From my perspective it seems like we have a few issues. The guild leader has lost interest in the game and doesn't log in much and the officers pretty much run the guild in lieu of the GM. However it seems like the officers are kind of burning out too, but don't really want to turn over any of the power to people with more interest.
Some examples of issues are:
The officers don't solicit feedback from members. When they get feedback they tend to not respond to it and ignore it. Perhaps they're mulling things over in their private forums or whatnot. We never hear back. Occasionally they'll make postings sounding like they're going to reorganize or start to do things members want, but nothing ever comes of it.
Outside of our weekly Kara run there isn't much attempt to organize stuff, and it seems like Kara is such a low priority with most of them that it could easily fall off the schedule for weeks without any of them caring much. However, many of the members are pretty keen to do Karazhan and even move onto Zul'Aman or perhaps attempt a 25 man thing. Some members are experienced at Kara and could easily organize runs. I know people would like to do heroics and perhaps even some organized PVP but the officers don't seem to have interest in organizing this sort of thing.
You might be thinking to yourself, "Well, why don't you take the reigns and organize yourself?" We've tried and yet we get discouraged by our officers. They say that they need to lead stuff and organize things . . . but then they don't. It seems like they're very jealous of their authority but rather lackadaisical on follow up.
Then there's a whole bunch of officers that do utterly nothing. I have no idea why they are officers. And finally, the officers that are online are pretty clique-ish. They only run instances with each other. I just get the feeling they're pretty out-of-touch with the members.
Do you have any suggestions? Or perhaps I need to see this through an officer's eyes. What could be going on that we members aren't seeing?
A fellow adventurer
Thanks for writing, fellow adventurer! I can indeed give you the officer's perspective on this situation. Burnout is a common issue for officers. You've been working hard, week after week, trying to get things accomplished, with varying degrees of assistance and success. The stress builds up, there's little thanks for all you've done, and then one day you log in and say to yourself, "You know what? I just want to run a dungeon with my buddies and not worry about anything."
That's fine for one night. But then sometimes -- and not always consciously -- you realize how fun it is to be a "normal" player again and do whatever you want to do with your game time. Gradually, you start making that decision more and more often until you're pretty much not an officer at all anymore. You give lip service to whatever members ask you to take care of, and then file it away to act on at a future time when you feel up to it again. At the same time, you distance yourself from the members because all they do is remind you of the responsibilities you're shirking. So you reach a point where you're only hanging out with the other officers. After all, if you're all goofing off, then it's okay, right?
At this point in a cycle of content, it's a common scenario. When The Burning Crusade launched, most officers had a renewed vigor for their roles. There was so much new content to explore. The world seemed full of promise. Raids capped at 25 players meant virtually any guild could progress through all of the game's content -- right? You got everyone to 70, got people geared up and keyed for Karazhan, then learned all the encounters and farmed the heck out of it for months on end. You stepped up your recruiting efforts, all with an eye to moving on to Gruul's Lair and beyond. But for any number of reasons (members quitting the game, recruiting falling short, the insane consumables cost of raiding for what were basically purple sidegrades when the expansion first launched, the sheer complexity of "beginner" encounters like High King Maulgar or Magtheridon) the progress didn't happen. You were stuck with Kara week after week. And you were totally sick of it. The very thought of clearing all that trash between Curator and Shade one more time made you nauseous.
Now your members are starting to get antsy. You've been slacking for a long time and they're itching for some leadership. They're even offering to do your job for you, which of course you quash because that's just threatening your position. But you've been doing virtually nothing for so long that you can't pull yourself out of the rut. Maybe you log on less. Maybe, eventually, you just stop playing altogether.
That is the burnout experience. I'm sure some of the other officers reading this can relate to it. I've gone through periods like this myself. Usually not for very long, but I've been there. It's especially tough on the members, who feel helpless. But you aren't helpless. You just need to rally the troops.
Gather some other people who feel the same way you do. I'm sure they're not hard to find. The more long-time members you can get, the better. Then feel out the officers who are online most often and figure out which one will be most sympathetic to your cause. If you've been in the guild for a long time, as you say, then you probably know them pretty well already. One night, form a raid group with all the members who are unhappy and invite all the officers that you can grab, but make sure the one you've decided is most sympathetic will be there. By having that person there, you're stacking the deck in your favor. This raid is your "burnout intervention."
Yes, this is "agitation," as you call it. This may result in drama. But it doesn't have to. Above all, don't let all the members just railroad the officers with complaints. Assign someone to be the spokesperson. Others can chime in, but they should generally let that person run the show. Empathy is the key here; don't attack the officers with accusations or try to make them feel guilty. Tell them that you understand the job is difficult and requires a lot of personal sacrifices. Thank them for what they've done in the past. Then let them know that the people in the raid want more out of the guild and that they're all willing to help out in whatever way the officers need to start up more Kara runs, ZA runs, PvP nights, whatever.
Hopefully, seeing so many people so motivated to make the guild better will serve as a wakeup call to the officers that what they're doing isn't enough. Speaking to them in a group setting carries a certain weight to it that posting on a forum doesn't. Also, because the setting is public rather than one-on-one, whatever promises they make are public, too. Even if they don't act right away, they'll remember that night. With any luck, they'll snap out of it one day and start working again. Maybe they'll even take you up on your offer and come to the members for help.
It could go the other way and things could just remain as they are. Then your only recourse short of leaving is to get tough with some civil disobedience. On a week where nothing is going on, put together a Kara run or an Arathi Basin team. The officers won't like it, but they can't say you didn't give them fair warning! I hope it doesn't come to that. But you never know -- maybe they'll have reached the point where they're grateful someone is making things happen without any effort on their part. I know I'm always pretty psyched to see members take initiative and organize things, as long as they don't directly conflict with "official" events.
Or, the officers may be completely unreasonable about it and kick you out. However, if they do that, you'll be a martyr in the eyes of the other members. And the people who are fed up with the guild will follow you to a new home. But as long as everyone remains calm and mature in this situation, it shouldn't come to that.
Have any other officers out there suffered from "the blahs"? How did you snap out of it?
Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!