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Officers' Quarters: Speechless


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

A few weeks ago, I ventured the opinion that raiding addons aren't optional. They are an essential tool for raiding well, and even if you think you're pro enough to go without them, it's a matter of courtesy to your fellow raiders to use them. This week, we have a similar scenario, but instead of an addon, the raider in question refuses to use a microphone and claims that it is a medical issue -- despite some evidence to the contrary.

Dear Officers' Quarters,

I was tasked with creating a healer roster for scheduled 10-man raids. As expected, some members did not make the cut.

I told the backup healers that three things must improve before they could be pulled in for non-farm content.
  1. Gear (with gems/enchants)
  2. Raid awareness
  3. Encounter knowledge
One of the backup/benched healers had an issue last raid. She fixed #1 after much prodding ("but this is only blue gear -- it doesn't need gems/enchants"). She still has issues with #2 (compounded by the lack of microphone). She still hasn't fixed #3 on new kills. The x-factor is her lack of microphone.
I benched her in particular because she would go OOM and so her target(s) would die. She would be stuck in a bad spot and would have to move (again, resulting in raid deaths). Her long (and sometimes hard to understand) whispered questions would be sent to the raid leader and tie us up as the typed communication would ensue. And the pattern was continued (with a history in created in Wrath).

Now these rules weren't written down before our most recent raid -- my fault. However, they were explained in a guild meeting over Vent and both the raid leader, guild leader, and myself have addressed them.

Drama: So at our most recent raid, I have 5 healers online, 3 of which are "starting lineup" as it were and they make it in.

LeftoutRaider: Why did you take X raider over me? You only took him because he's Y raider's buddy!
Me: [Explains the above 3 issues + microphone ... and that "buddy issues" were not the issue.]
LeftoutRaider: But I can't talk in Vent.
Me: Please explain why you can't.
LeftoutRaider: I just can't.
Me: Is it a medical issue?
LeftoutRaider: Yes.

So now I'm left with this awkward situation. Another raider has said he's spoken with her on the phone so either it's a psychological issue (low confidence), uncomfortable with her voice (throat cancer? strong accent?) or who knows what? I want to be sensitive to what is apparently a sensitive issue, but how?

Eating Zebras
Hi, EZ. First of all, I would encourage you to document these rules in a visible place and point to them frequently until they become widely known and accepted by your raiders. Written policies can solve many drama-inducing issues such as this.

Honestly, it doesn't sound like the microphone is even the biggest issue with this player. She seems unmotivated to spend gold on improving her gear, has glaring awareness/performance issues, and doesn't familiarize herself with boss strategies ahead of time. Any one of these is enough reason not to bring her when you have such limited slots.

On top of that, she seems to feel persecuted by her benching, which tells me that she either doesn't understand the policy or is unwilling to acknowledge her own shortcomings. Instead, she thinks there's some kind of conspiracy against her. That's a bad sign.

You can work with her to improve, but at the end of the day, you can only do so much hand-holding in a raid environment. At some point, your players have to be accountable for themselves. You seem focused on the mic issue, but that is something to address after she has proven that she deserves a slot based on your three existing criteria.

Let's say she gets with the program and becomes a better, more dependable raider. What then?

Is a mic mandatory?

It depends on circumstances. A healer with an assignment can get by without a mic just fine, assuming no one makes a mistake and the encounter goes smoothly. But that rarely happens on progression content. When things go wrong, a mic helps you to convey the problem quickly in a way that typing never can.

Mics are especially helpful to healers. When they find themselves unable to heal their assignment or about to run out of mana, their ability to convey that information in a timely fashion can prevent a wipe. You could make macros for these and other problems, but that means asking your fellow raiders to keep an eye on their chat log in addition to everything else going on in the fight, which is not ideal.

A mic is also extremely helpful on fights like Atramedes. If you're getting chased during the air phase, you need to tell the player assigned to shields exactly when you need him or her to stun the boss.

Verbal communication is also important when you're learning a strategy. Typing things out takes up a lot of time that could be better spent on attempts. During encounters, most players won't need a mic and will only need to listen to the person calling out coordinated movements and other warnings. However, a mic is a great tool that can help you beat encounters when you otherwise might have wiped.

I wouldn't say a mic is 100% mandatory, but it is so helpful that most guilds consider it mandatory. In fact, many guilds ask right on their application whether a player has access to the guild's preferred chat software and a microphone. They won't even consider a recruit who doesn't.

EZ, I would advise you to write into your policies that a mic is mandatory if you feel it is important enough. Of course, you may have to make an exception for this particular healer.

The exception

Back in August, OQ tackled the case of a deaf raider who became the target of blame for wipes and subsequently left the guild. It was an ugly scenario and not one that I wish to see repeated here. However, there is a difference between a raider who can raid well despite a disability or condition, and a raider who doesn't raid well before you even take the disability or condition into account. I believe your healer falls into the latter category -- if she is, in fact, telling you the truth about herself.

It is suspicious to me that she did not elaborate at all on her medical issue, despite evidence that she is able to use a phone. She doesn't have to tell you about her condition, of course, and it's not appropriate to pry. Even so, it would be helpful to find out whether her condition is temporary or permanent. I don't think you'd be crossing the line to ask her that. You could also ask her whether she might be able to have a mic handy and use it only for emergencies, or if that's out of the question. If you find out at some point that she's lying to you about the problem, then I recommend asking her to leave the guild. No one wants liars on their roster, particularly ones who are as unmotivated as she seems to be.

If you do make a mic mandatory in your policies, you should include the exception that players who are prevented from using one by circumstances outside their control can go without. Since your healer violates your criteria in other ways already, however, the policy won't really make a difference in her case until she improves her preparation and awareness.

My final advice on this topic is to do your best to impress on your healer that is not a matter of favoritism, but rather strict adherence to the guild's own rules that is determining who gets a raid slot. Until your healer understands that, she's only going to cause more drama over it.

/salute

Join us to learn how to survive the leveling process, deal with guild perk freeloaders, and discuss the guild talent controversy or the guild reputation system. Send Scott your guild-related questions and suggestions at scott@wowinsider.com; you may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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