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Officers' Quarters: How to avoid the feeder guild label

A fern feeder moth in Grizzly Hills
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.

No community wants to be known as a feeder guild. No raid team wants to see its best members leave for more progressed guilds when they have the opportunity. No guild leader wants to fall victim to poaching over and over again. It's an embarrassing place to be. How can you stop the bleeding and shake the label? Read on to find out! But first, this week's email:

Hi Scott.

I'm GM of a guild that is not a hard core raiding guild. We have been around since Ulduar and were founded at the break up of a guild that existed since vanilla. ... The founding principle of the guild was no drama and keep it casual. This has crystallised into my own rule as GM: advice for other players is fine if you ask if they want it first. Unsolicited "you are rubbish" comments are not allowed.

... One advantage of the guild is that the atmosphere of advice and support over criticism means that "OMG you Noob" players either change their tune or leave. This mean the relations between guild members generally remain good even after people move on. So on to the issue.

We have had good relations with two guilds on the server who were similar to us in terms of raid progression but maybe a little ahead. It is noteworthy that often their progression has come with the help of our guild members when they needed to fill a spot eg One guild in downing Heroic Ultraxion for the first time they borrowed a healer alt of a guild member. The other actually has another alt of a guildies serving as their off tank.

We lost a few players to the first guild firstly a guy who is now their main tank who left in period when I was on holiday for a couple of weeks and raiding progression slowed/stopped. He is a nice guy and we have remained on good terms. The second loss to that guild was group of college friends who included one of our top dps. This also happened when I was not around. These four now make up a good part of the firsts guilds raiding team.

... Recently a new healer I had recruited went to help them out not having been able to make the Wednesday raid. I saw no problem with this knowing they were having healer problems and seeing that a good way for the healer to get chance to raid that week. Now they have recruited that healer to their guild and I am left trying to find a decent geared healer for our heroic attempts. I have been forced to place ban of raiders with the two guilds. I am debating trying to persuade the old members to come back. Its a shame but I feel unless i take drastic action then those guilds will survive by poaching players from us.

Toddler

Hi, Toddler. When a guild is actively poaching from you, then it's certainly fair to ask your players not to raid with them.

However, that's not a solution -- just a stopgap measure. If you want the poaching to stop, it's not enough to ask yourself why members are choosing to join those other guilds. You have to ask yourself why they are leaving yours.

Criticism culture

Criticism culture is a concept I've written about before. The term means the prevailing attitude toward criticism in your guild. Some guilds, particularly serious raiding guilds, have a very open attitude toward criticism. It's not just accepted -- it's expected, even sought after.

When you created those new rules about criticism, you defined your guild's criticism culture in a very specific way. That could be one of the factors causing people to leave.

Players who want to succeed at raiding can sometimes have a hard time staying silent when they see other players causing the team to fail. They want to speak out, but the rules severely limit them in this regard. Thus, they get frustrated. They choose to leave, assuming that either (a) nothing will ever be said to those players, or (b) the players won't choose to accept the criticism.

Criticism is healthy

When players have a bad experience with criticism, they tend to shy away from it and regard all criticism as negative. They look at any critical statement as an attack. But that attitude is not healthy.

Constructive criticism is necessary, in my opinion, for a successful raid team. Not every player is supremely self-motivating. Some will need another player to help them to improve. This sort of help, by definition, will including critiquing their performance, their gear, spec, gem and glyph choices, etc. A player who can't handle any kind of criticism whatsoever has no place on a raid team (or any team).

Defining casual

The concept of effort and self-improvement goes beyond the hardcore vs. casual issue, getting to the heart of what it means to be part of a team. Learning and improving is part of one's commitment to team support. The biggest difference between hardcore and casual, in my book at least, is not whether someone chooses to learn and improve but to what degree they do so.

In my opinion (and I've written about this many times), there's a difference between casual raiding and lazy raiding. When players expect others to carry them through raids, it drives people away. Even in a casual raid, players should know how to do their job competently and what each encounter expects of them. To do any less is wasting the time of the people you're playing with. It's selfish, and it will drive people to other guilds every time.

Set expectations

By making it clear what you expect of your raiders and helping everyone to follow through, you will actually bring your team closer together. When everyone is putting in roughly the same level of effort -- wherever you set the bar -- the resentment and anger that lead to rude comments will disappear. Your raiders will have more fun, and that's what it's all about.

You don't have to abandon your casual identity to achieve this. You can succeed on your own terms, but it starts with the officers choosing the good of the team over individual egos.

I agree that personal attacks have no place in a guild environment. However, constructive criticism and well-defined expectations both have an important role in promoting team success. Happy raiders are a direct result of that success. Keeping your raiders happy is the best way to defeat poacher guilds and avoid the feeder label.

/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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