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Officers' Quarters: Culture shock

A shaman shocks a training dummy
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.

This week's email presents an interesting situation about recruiting, loot, raiding, and drama. I'll let it speak for itself.

Help Me Guild Master Guru - You're My Only Hope!!!

I've written in the past and you've been helpful. I have a doosie for you. My guild has been around for almost 3 years and I've been a guild leader and officer for about 4 years. We're your average run of the mill raiding guild with a little more than half of the heroic bosses down in DS. We're more than just a guild, we're a family.

Our focus is on raiding and killing bosses. Our policies and mission reflect that focus.

We recently had a discussion among our leadership about possibly absorbing the core members of another guild that's falling apart. They raid with a little more intensity than we do, but we have members that want to raid at that intensity. So there was discussion about having one group raid at that intensity and our other 2-3 groups just mosey along like we've always done. The problem was, the officer from the other guild that I was discussing this with had his own ideas for this raid team that didn't quite jive with us (especially regarding the loot policy). One of our officers was extremely vocal and emotional against this happening. The discussion derailed and that's no longer an option.

I then opened a discussion with my leadership about our raiding policies for MOP and ran into a big fat train wreck. A minor addendum was suggested to our existing loot policy which the Raid Leader wholeheartedly endorsed for the sake of guild progress, and another officer (the vocal one from the previous discussion) went ballistic. I was completely taken aback. This officer was still all wound up from the previous discussion and wasn't separating the two threads. I've been doing everything I could to calm her down, I told her it was only a suggestion, we weren't going to use it, but she said the guild was going in a direction she didn't like, she felt like there was a divide in the leadership, and ended up demoting her toons and threatening to gquit.

This person has been a founding member of my guild and has become my best friend in Azeroth (we even met irl). She has never acted out like this before. I feel that there's nothing I can do to fix this with her. None of this is worth losing our friendship over, or having her gquit over. But I have absolutely no idea how to handle this situation.

Sincerely,

Rock ||| Me ||| Hard Place

Hi, R|M|HP. Let's get one thing out of the way up front. Trying to affect guild policy by threatening a gquit just makes a person look silly and childish. Here, it really puts you in a difficult place, as both a friend and a guild leader. She's not letting you do what you think is best for the guild; she wants you to do what's best for her instead. That's not fair, and you should tell her it's not fair. Maybe Lisa and Robin would disagree with me.

However, the way I see it, as a (former) officer, she should be able to distinguish between a guild issue and a personal issue. She's trying to make it into a personal issue. Don't let her. Tell her that you're sorry she feels that way but you have to do what you believe will help the guild most.

Having said that, I do wonder if she may have a good point that's getting buried amidst the drama.

Changing the culture

You admit that the players you're looking to absorb have a "more intense" attitude toward raiding. By bringing them in, you will be irrevocably changing the culture of your guild. You need to recognize that and plan for it. This kind of transition is never an easy adjustment, and I think your friend's reaction is just the beginning.

Members will resist this change. Your guild has existed for three years, which in today's WoW is quite a while. The culture has been ingrained for a long time. You can warn your members. You can prepare them. However, they won't realize what bringing in these players will actually mean until they see it firsthand.

What you're doing here, essentially, is importing an A team. I've written about the A team/B team situation before, and it can get ugly. The issue I see for you primarily is that more players will want to be on that A team than it can handle. They'll see the progression and they'll want to get in on it -- even people who don't have the necessary skill. You'll have to tell them they can't join that team. They'll look at it and see all these brand new players getting slots over them, while they've been here for years, and they won't like it. You may actually wind up with too many skilled players who could all excel on that team, but you can't bring everyone. What then?

It can get worse. Rival cliques can form. Resentment can build. Passive-aggressive sniping can fly back and forth in /g. Add to that the fact that the bulk of this A team will be brand new players, and I think you've got to be extremely careful here.

Now, in the column that I wrote about A teams, I came out in favor of them for most guilds. I wrote that, for raiding guilds, it's more important to hold on to your best raiders -- the raiders who make your guild a desirable place to raid -- than it is to appease your less skilled raiders. In your case, though, it's different. You wouldn't be holding on to elite raiders -- you'd be adding them to your roster en masse.

A big risk

So what I'm wondering is this: Is it worth this risk? You say you have a guild that feels like a family. Is it worth losing that family feeling? In my experience, that kind of guild culture is very hard to achieve, and once it's gone, it's gone for good.

In light of that, when one of your officers says the guild is "going in a direction she doesn't like," that should send up a red flag. Just because she's upset doesn't make her point invalid.

You say you can field two or even three other raid teams in addition to this A team. In that case, you certainly don't need the warm bodies that this other collapsing guild will bring. You also most likely will not need the prestige that they could bring to help you recruit.

What, then, is the benefit that outweighs the chances you're taking? You say you have a few players who are looking to get more serious. I think that your guild would be better off by building a team around those players rather than bringing in a whole new team. You also have to consider the potential for raid leader and officer burnout by managing up to four different raid teams.

Gauge reactions

Think about whether or not other players in the guild could eventually feel the way that your friend does. Talk to them about the situation. Talk to your friend and ask her to weigh in honestly -- and objectively -- on this issue. This is a critical time to gauge reactions.

I believe that your guild is at a crossroads here that will determine the future of the community. You need to figure out definitively what kind of guild your members want -- and what kind of guild you want to lead.

/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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