Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
Some guild leaders think we are irreplaceable, but few of us actually are. Who will carry on the Torch of the Damned if we can't fulfill our duties? I know exactly who would if I ever had to stop playing. But some guild leaders aren't that lucky. Caasi is one of them. She wrote me this week to ask what she should do.
I've been playing WoW since 2006 and started my own guild in July 2007 and, at times when RL does not allow enough time, I have handed the guild over to a friend. As it stands there is currently two 2ic's and various raid and class leaders. It has generally gone smoothly, starting off as a leveling guild and then moving on to (very) casual raiding. We didn't get to do much of TBC raiding due to most members leveling slowly and only starting to play the game in TBC. We are up to TotC standards but have encountered a raid and guild breaking issue.
When the Australian DST changes kicked over our raiding teams were pretty much split. This has meant that raiding stopped for around 6 weeks causing quite a few of our main raiding team to leave. During that time I took over main guild leadership to try and kick people back into gear. Things were working well enough until I realised that I had over committed myself both IRL and in game. I was fast heading to "SCREW THIS GAME AND YOUR STUPID BLOODY ATTITUDES" before I realised that something needed to be done.
That brings me to where we are at now. None of our officers are really in a position to take up GL due to availability, health concerns and, truthfully, maturity/ability to handle the responsibility. The idea that we are discussing at the moment is the possibility of recruiting someone to fill the position but we are not sure how to go about that. Obviously it would begin with a trial period to see how they fit in and then we would go from there. Leadership would not be handed over for quite some time so that we can figure out whether we trust them to not ninja the guild bank and what not.
We do need to do more recruitment generally. It is just exceptionally difficult to maintain the guild when
1) I'm 3 hours behind server time
2) I can, realistically, only afford to play an hour a night during the week + 6 hrs overall on the weekend and
3) my time online is usually interupted repeatedly due to being the mother of a toddler.
Our guild is a fantastic community and the people who take their mains out of the guild tend to continue to be a part of the community (a positive and negative). I want to see us go on to clear 10 man ICC but as it is we're struggling to get groups for Ulduar and TotC.
Thanks in advance,
It sounds like you were in a bad situation, Caasi. Time zones can really mess with your guild, especially when the government can't make up its mind about Daylight Savings Time. I'm glad you had the self-awareness to recognize what the stress was doing to you before you lost it for real!
Recruiting a new guild leader from outside the guild, I'm sorry say, is an extremely unlikely scenario. Think about how people normally become guild leaders.
Some GLs create a guild with specific principles and policies in mind. Maybe they think they can do better than their previous GL. Maybe they want to try a new way to run things or emphasize different aspects of gameplay. Or maybe they're just fed up with authority and want to be the one making the calls this time around.
All of these scenarios have one thing in common: The guild leaders want to put their own stamp on the guilds they lead. They don't want to follow someone else's lead or assume responsibility for someone else's policies. So that's one strike against your plan, unless you're willing to let them lead the guild as they see fit. That could lead to major changes and friction among your members.
But that doesn't take into account the social aspect. To be an effective guild leader, you need to understand the people you're leading -- their strengths and weaknesses, their motivations, and their fears. No outsider could hope to get to know your players the way you or your officers do. It would take them a long time to catch up, longer than you can afford.
And to be perfectly blunt, who would want to take over an existing guild in this situation? Leading a guild involves personal sacrifice. Time and effort can bleed away very quickly in a leadership role. If you don't have any connection to your members, would you be willing to do what they need you to, week in and week out?
If you're going to look outside your guild for an answer, you could try to find a raid leader. I'm assuming you were handling this as well. Raid leading is probably the most difficult part of what officers typically do. Although not all raid leaders are officers, many are, and I find that it often works out better for everyone when that is the case.
However, you could bring someone in on a provisional basis. Some players really enjoy raid leading or want to give it a try, and for one reason or another they aren't able to with their current guild. I wrote a column about recruiting a raid leader back in the spring of '08.
Fortunately, there's also an in-guild solution to your problem. Take an inventory of all the tasks you were carrying out. Decide which ones you could still do with your limited time (and patience) and which ones you couldn't possibly carry out. Post the ones you can't take care of on your guild's Web site or list them out at a meeting. Then ask for volunteers to take over those tasks.
In other words, delegate. Spread the responsibilities around so they aren't resting too heavily on anyone's shoulders. You may have your doubts that some of your volunteers can actually do what they say they will. You cite some maturity issues, and that is a legitimate concern. (And if you feel that way about those members, I have to wonder, why are they officers to begin with?)
Don't limit volunteers to the officers alone. Let anyone who legitimately wants to help do so. Your members may surprise you. They might even surprise themselves by what they are able to do and what they are good at. If members are motivated to keep the guild going, then you will find players to help you with these tasks.
Check up with your volunteer's progress from time to time for a few weeks while you remain the GL. With any luck, someone will emerge as a highly motivated and mature individual. Make them an officer if they aren't one already. Be sure they can handle it without abusing their authority. Then, assuming all goes well, approach them about taking over the guild.
This is obviously the best-case scenario, but it's not that far-fetched. You never know what your members are capable of until you ask them!
The other scenario is that no one steps up, or not nearly enough people. If that happens, make sure that your members understand the severity of the situation -- that the guild cannot continue in this way, that you might have to disband it. And if, upon hearing that, you're still greeted with silence, then the truth of the matter is that your members don't care about the guild as much as you thought. In that case, disbanding the guild is probably your best choice.
Some people might say, Why disband when you can just stop logging in? Guild leaders who abandon their communities don't do anyone any favors. The people who remain don't have access to all the guild control features, which could include promotions and bank withdrawals. If there's truly no one you can hand the guild over to, it's better to distribute the guild loot in a fair way and then make an end of the guild.
This way you can also protect your own reputation. If someone takes over the guild, recruits a bunch of jerks, and starts ticking off the whole server, people may still connect you with that guild.
Either way the situation winds up, Caasi, you'll be able to stop worrying about it and focus on your family. I hope you don't have to resort to a disband, but I urge you to do so if there's no other way out!
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!