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Officers' Quarters: Dropping the drama totem

Troll totems have unhappy faces
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 from No Starch Press.

Selecting players for slots is always a sensitive situation, whether it's for a Rated Battleground or a heroic raid. That situation can be magnified when other factors -- such as cliques -- come into play. This week, a guild leader finds himself torn between friendship with a member and loyalty to his raid leader after a shaman protests a benching.

My guild was dying on our old server, so me (guild leader) and 8 other raiders, who I had been raiding with for 4 years, transferred to a new server. We needed a new dps/healer as a backup and a new tank, and set out recruiting. The new tank has worked out well, but our ele/resto shaman hasn't worked out as well. He's a nice guy, someone who I view as a friend, always shows up on time, often shares volcanic potions with other raid members etc. He's been in the guild now for 2 months and has helped us progress through Heroic Warship, Spine, and Madness.

Anyway, last Tuesday, we sat him for H Spine to bring in someone else, and with the 15% nerf, we 1-shot Spine, something he was bitter at missing after spending two weeks with us ... progressing and missing out on the kill. We did a few attempts on madness and looked forward to our Thursday run. On Thursday, we spent about an hour and a half progressing on Spine. Our holy paladin (and also an officer) was getting angry over some in-game stuff and was making mistakes. He finally logged off in frustration and we brought in the shaman and he helped us progress throughout the night (8% wipe).

Unfortunately for our Sunday raid, our legendary dagger rogue had an IRL issue pop up and the shaman came in again and wiped for 4 hours with us (3% wipe). We decided to extend the lock ... for Tuesday.

Tuesday comes around and everyone shows up, and the raid leader chose to sit the Shaman. The Shaman was furious, blowing up my whisper box and the raid leader's whisper box. He made some fair points: he has always shown up, he's a full member, he didn't bail like our Paladin did and he covered for the Rogue on Sunday. ... The raid leader decided on our holy paladin who bailed over the shaman who didn't. We downed H madness a few hours later, but the victory was bittersweet because the Shaman moved all of his characters but his main to another guild and made it extremely clear that he has no friends in this guild and that he would only be logging on to raid. (He also removed me and three other guildies from RealID).

I'm the guild leader, not the raid leader. I leave all raid leading responsibilities to my raid leader, but I feel really bad about this. The shaman is a good guy, a decent friend and I feel he got screwed.

I don't know what to do! I want to apologize, but it wasn't my call. ... Any advice at salvaging this would be great!

Yikes -- I can definitely see the shaman's point of view here. I also think there's more to this than meets the eye.

Transfers vs. locals

When your shaman says "I don't have any friends in this guild," that sets off alarm bells for me. He's a new recruit, joining an established group of players who all transferred together. That's not an easy situation to be in. There are years of familiarity and inside jokes that he's missed out on compared to the rest of the group.

He's most likely felt like a bit of an outsider, being the new person after the transfer, and that feeling hasn't diminished over time. Benching him in favor of the paladin just brought this situation to the forefront. To him, it looks like a case of favoritism for the players who transferred at the expense of those who are new.

It will be difficult to convince him otherwise.

An honest approach

What I would recommend, if you decide to approach him, is to emphasize all the points that you told me. Tell him you consider him a friend, that you've noticed his great attendance and his generosity, and that you feel bad about the way things went down. Coming from you as the guild leader, it will mean a lot.

You don't have to throw your raid leader under the bus, either. You can express disappointment about the way he handled that decision without expressly contradicting him.

The fact that he kept his main in the guild and still intends to raid with you is a sign that he's not completely ready to gquit. He wants reassurances that he is respected and valued. Unfortunately, however, you can't promise him that he won't be benched like that in the future. That may be the sticking point.

What's the policy?

This is a great time to go over your guild's policies about filling raid slots. If the criteria are purely based on the raid leader's preference, then that needs to be a policy you make clear from Day 1 whenever a new member joins.

Every raiding member should agree to that policy before they set foot in a raid with your guild. That way, players can certainly disagree with the raid leader's choice, but they can't say they weren't warned about the possibility.

If attendance and other factors are going to weigh in, then that needs to be clear as well. It doesn't sound like that's the way it is, and that's your choice -- but either way, you have to spell it out.

Also, you may want to look at how new members are treated. Do people go out of their way to make them feel welcome, or are they largely ignored until they're needed for a raid? A little bit of inclusiveness can go a long way!

/salute

Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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