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Officers' Quarters: All the red flags

Eight red flags
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.

It's not easy to find talented, knowledgeable, and highly motivated raiders. For a guild that doesn't attract such players very often, the excitement over adding them to your roster can be enough to overlook some of the potential drawbacks. However, as we see from the email below, it's a good idea to talk to them first to make sure they'll fit in.

All summer we've been raiding our regular ten man. ... Some have come and gone on break, some have quit permanently some just vanished, but it was going along okay. ... There were enough [PUG players] that could fill the roles, pay attention and follow directions and we managed to go 6/8HM through the summer even though we only raid two nights for four hours. I fully believe that if we had a full group, we would have already cleared the instance on heroic mode, but that is the nature of filling the group with random players. ...

Fast forward to September 3rd. I wake up to my husband telling stories about how [one of our raiders] is mad at some random player we brought a few weeks ago. They had some weird argument, things were said in weird ways and feelings were hurt, but by time I got up, my husband mediated the problem and offered this stranger and his friend spots on our raid team!

They're skilled friendly players that I wanted six weeks ago, and are expecting preference over our real life friends for raid spots, and I don't have the heart to say no, especially if people quit later in Mists, which may happen. I tell them that I'm going to try and form a 25-man raid and they start in with "this guild is bad. You've achieved nothing. 6/8HM in a year is garbage. Lesser guilds have achieved more. Why do you have an enhance shaman? Their numbers don't compare to x-class. Bear tanks are terrible, you should have your other tank reroll. If the priest does a race change we can stack these racials; etc."

I tried to tell these new players that I'm proud of what I've done. "It's just excuses. If people don't show, replace them. If you're not competitive with the top guilds you might as well not even raid. That is the point of raiding, to push the content as hard as you can. If someone wants to play a class that can't compete in serious DPS, they can do it in LFR. That's how we did it in x-guild and we were the top in the country on x-faction."

So I questioned them on why they want to raid with us, because there is an obvious gap in expectation and what I can reasonably provide and they say that they like us. We're social, do PvE/P events together, are skilled at our classes and like to make the raid a fun environment, "even though you have girls* in your raid."

I can't justify asking any of my real-life friends to step out for these new people to come to the raid, nor do I feel like I can ask existing players to change spec/class/race to more optimize our group set up ... I'm afraid that I'll make concessions for new players, upset the old and walk into Mists with NO raid team at all. On top of that, we have little involvement from leadership or officers in the guild so there is no one active other than our current raid team. To do a 25-man I'm going to have to rely on random players en masse and hope for the best. I've attempted to get other, larger, guilds on the server involved, asking for alts or "benched" players that may be interested, but every one so far has scoffed at my progression rate and [not-so-kindly] declined.

Is their any solution at all, or am I attempting to herd cats? Will I find some respite from these issues when new content can be cleared via RealID-Raids?

*We're were 50/50 on female raiders up until a few weeks ago. Now it's more like 30/70. That comment made me really mad though, and when I expressed my feelings on the topic, he backed off.

Flag-stravangza

There are so many red flags with these two players that I feel compelled to count them.
  1. They've already started drama with one of your raiders before they were even invited to the guild. I don't know what the issue was, but clearly this is not a good omen.
  2. They called your guild "bad" and expounded on that at some length. To me, this speaks of a complete lack of tact or social grace -- and very far from being "friendly." We can predict that they will continue to make similar untactful statements as guild members. We can also infer that this lack of tact led to the drama in Flag 1.
  3. They won't be happy with anything but perfect progression. Given the challenges that you faced this expansion, especially having to bring in PUG players, 6/8 on hard mode is actually pretty good. They don't seem to recognize or appreciate such challenges. In my experience, people like this are prone to bail at the first sign of any setback whatsoever.
  4. They believe performance trumps all other considerations about the classes, races, or specs that people want to play. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's what top progression guilds do. However, if you're not comfortable asking people to do this, then that attitude doesn't mesh with your guild's raiding identity.
  5. They are dismissive of people's feelings: "If you don't want to play a competitive class, go do it in LFR."
  6. They are dismissive of any raiding that isn't top progression raiding: "You might as well not even raid if you aren't the best." They don't seem to think that any other purpose, such as the fun of overcoming challenges with your friends, is legitimate.
  7. They believe the point of raiding is to push "as hard as you can." Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Keep in mind, however, that for players like this, their definition of pushing might go far beyond what your guild's definition is. I've seen and heard about players getting harassed right out of guilds because other people thought they were holding the team back. For some players, that kind of thing is all just part of the push.
  8. They believe their former progression accomplishments entitle them to tell you how to run your guild. They will likely also believe those accomplishments entitle them to dole out criticism to your raiders at whim, constructive or not. I've encountered these types of players before and that is a common theme. It's an ego thing, and an excess of ego rarely goes over well in a team setting.
  9. They're demanding special treatment. They already think they are better than your existing members and that their skill should allow them to skirt around existing rules and policies. That kind of attitude doesn't belong on any team, in any situation.
  10. They're sexist.
Perhaps I am extrapolating too much from a brief conversation, and perhaps I am being unfair. I certainly don't mean to vilify all progression raiders -- in my experience most progression raiders aren't this conceited and disrespectful. Alarm bells were going off in my head the entire time I read about them in your email, and I really don't think my inferences are all that unreasonable based on their comments.

All of their statements and attitudes are huge red flags to me. Any one of the above would give me pause. Taken all together, I believe that bringing these players into your guild is a disaster waiting to happen.

It's not all con

Adding players that have been in strong progression guilds can be a great thing for a guild like yours. Constructive criticism from skilled, knowledgeable players can improve everyone on your roster, top to bottom. They can help your future progression, make recruiting easier, and put your guild in a great place to succeed throughout the upcoming expansion. They can even help you to identify guild policies that can be changed to improve your raiding without turning the entire guild's atmosphere upside down.

There is a definite upside to bringing in such players that can't be denied.

However, these are not the players who are going to do that. To be that kind of resource for a raiding guild requires patience, empathy, good communication skills, and a friendly attitude. These players, from what I can tell, have the opposite of those things.

Ask yourself if these are the kind of people you want to spent eight hours a week with, let alone deal with their comments in /g every single day.

The more likely scenario

What I see from them leads me to believe they will add little to the guild except for discord and drama. Rather than helping players in your guild who are struggling, they will belittle them. Instead of adapting to suit the existing atmosphere, they will relentlessly attempt to reshape your guild into the guild they came from. When confronted, they will simply claim that they are "being honest." They will say that you're "persecuting them" when "all they want to do is help."

Some in the guild, if they have been frustrated with progression, will get behind these guys. Others will be completely disgusted with them. Sides will be chosen, and eventually their influence could rip the entire guild apart. It may sound like an exaggeration, but I've seen it happen and I've heard about it from other officers. Be careful here.

Not the dudes you're looking for

Often, there is a reason why players like this find themselves looking for a guild. It's because they are so abrasive and immature that they can't even get along with people in a guild that values progression over all else.

They are not the answer to your -- or any guild's -- progression issues. They simply don't have the social skills to be part of a team.

If you keep them on your roster, don't let them treat your members with disrespect in the guise of "honesty." Require the same standards of behavior from them that you expect from everyone else in the guild. Certainly you should not give them special treatment.

Don't let them redefine the guild in ways that you and your members don't want. Stick to your policies unless it's clear that the officers and the majority of your members want those policies to change. If these players disagree with the way your guild does things, that's their right. But don't let them hold your guild hostage by demanding that policies change or else they won't raid. If they can't be respectful and constructive team members, bench them or kick them. You will not lack for friendly players who want to raid when Mists goes live later this month.

In my opinion, just having them on your roster is asking for trouble, especially since your guild doesn't seem to have a solid leadership structure. Keep these red flags in mind as the guild moves forward, and remember that no individual or their ego is more important than the well-being of the community.

/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.

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