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Officers' Quarters: Inner circle

Council of three hammers
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.

Does your guild have multiple tiers of leadership ranks? Such a hierarchy can help you to organize roles, but it can also cause resentment and infighting. This week, we hear from one officer who's fed up with it.

Hi Scott,

I am an officer in a medium size level 25 social guild. The guild has been around since WOTLK, has been through the normal ups and downs, but now seems to be in a good stable place with active, happy guildies. The leadership structure is set up with a GM, 3 Council members (GM is one of them), and 5 officers. This is for a guild with about 500 members.

For about the past 6 months, the officers have been systematically stripped of more and more of their duties, to the point where all decisions now lie only with Council. Officers have no input into admitting new guild members, except to be able to invite alts of current members. Officers also have no input into decisions on various guild perks we offer, such as Riding Scholarships, assistance with profession leveling, selection of class leaders, membership guidelines, etc. Officer meetings have pretty much become sessions in which Council members take turns berating the officers for not contributing enough to the guild bank, or for failing to motivate other guildies to participate in guild activities.

Although Council says they solicit input from the officers at these meetings -- and express annoyance if we are not talking enough -- nearly every idea put forth by the officers is immediately shot down, sometimes gently and sometimes not so gently, but always shot down. No matter what is discussed at the officer meetings, Council always goes off to a private meeting to make all decisions.

We have had -- and still do have -- a couple of officers who seem to do nothing for the guild. However, Council seems to prefer to scold everyone rather than deal with the non-performing officers individually. I have tried addressing this situation with individual members of Council, but they do not believe it is a problem and are obviously annoyed that I bring it up. I do not want to resign as an officer, because I feel I am contributing to the guild and helping it grow, and I am a responsible officer, but the situation is making the game, and this guild, less enjoyable. The officers in the guild enjoy almost no perks, the job is really set up to be one of service to the guild, which is the way I prefer it, but to have "service" pretty much defined as "donate stuff to the guild bank and round up guildies for activities" hardly seems worth it.

Nogoodanswers


Hi, Nogoodanswers. It doesn't feel good to be marginalized when you're trying to make a meaningful contribution. Unfortunately, you can't change the status quo unless others want it to change.

You've already approached the other officers and haven't gotten much support, so I'm not sure you have too many other options at this point. You can make your feelings clear to the "oligarchy," but they are free to ignore you as they usually do. It doesn't hurt to have a civil conversation about it, but you shouldn't expect to sway them.

Entrenched

These kinds of entrenched leadership situations are very difficult to change. There has to be a groundswell of support for it, and that usually won't develop unless the guild is having major problems. Unless you can rally the other officers around you, you have little hope of resolving these issues. Even then, such an uprising is more likely to fracture the guild than to save it. We'll see how it works out for Vol'jin fairly soon.

The good news is, the guild doesn't need saving. From what you've written, everything is going very well. You have a healthy and stable population, and you have three committed and active officers at the helm. Yes, they may be disrespectful to you and the other officers at times. Yes, they may be hard headed and even unfair. These are not necessarily the best qualities in guild leadership. But they do seem to care about the guild, and that is important.

Everybody runs laps

Part of what they are doing is a tried-and-true leadership trick: blaming everyone for the shortcomings of a few. Leaders do this in sports, in the military, and in corporate environments. One guy falls short, and everybody runs laps. The idea is to reinforce that you are a team, and you all stand or fall together. They count on the failing person's peers to pressure them to step up. In the right circumstances, this can motivate someone more effectively than any amount of yelling from on high.

I suppose they are leaving it up to you and others of your rank to get on the case of the noncontributing officers. I'm not sure this is the best approach in a purely voluntary situation like guild leadership, but it's interesting. More importantly for you, it's what they're doing.

That is one area where you could make a difference, by asking these ineffective officers what they're capable of contributing. Help them to find a role that suits the time they have available. There's nothing that says the officers of your rank can't have your own meeting to sort these things out. Depending on what your guild charter says, you could even vote to demote the officers who refuse to help out or ask them to resign. You may not get to pick who replaces them, but at least it would be a fresh start.

Consider yourself

Ultimately, you have to weigh what's best for you. If the ongoing situation upsets you, you should consider resigning. You can still help the guild in an unofficial capacity. It might be healthier than stressing about the leadership situation. If the Council is removing the fun factor from your time online, then you'll only find yourself burned out sooner or later. Then you'll really want to step down, but under far worse circumstances.

Keep in mind, also, that a resignation is the strongest message you can send to them.

Part of the problem here is that two leadership ranks exist in the first place. Multiple tiers of officers are prone to cause unnecessary division and strife.

/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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