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Officers' Quarters: Lessons from a guild split

Immerseus
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.

This week's email doesn't have a question for me. It's the story of a guild with clashing raid cultures. It includes some great lessons for officers about the consequences of trying to do too much.

In addition to [our progression team] Team Elite ("TE"), my guild ran 2-3 other 10-man teams throughout MOP. The other teams were not as intense due to differing skills and play styles. However some resentment did build. Some players did have the "greener grass" syndrome and wanted to be a part of TE. So when spots opened up, a handful of them ended up moving over to that team. This was the main reason for the resentment. Other raiders saw themselves as "farm system" groups for the "major league" group.

For the record, I was on TE for the first tier only. After I moved to other teams, I really gained the perspective of the other raiders, and I started to feel that resentment as well. I saw a huge shift in attitude from the TE players, even the longtime members.

They started telling other raiders how they should play and how to spend their play time. If it wasn't for these attitudes, it just might have worked out. And when I called a couple of them on it, I got raked against the coals by other officers in TE and almost got ousted out of the guild leader position.

Leadership was divided the entire xpac. Two of the guild officers were in TE. One was a raid leader of another team. Everyone wanted to pull the guild in different directions.

The attitude of the rest of the guild toward TE wasn't making them feel welcome. Granted, this team formed their own clique, and many of them only logged in to raid and pretty much extricated themselves from the rest of the guild. Finally about a month or so ago, [they] decided to break off from my guild and resurrect <Other Guild>.

Some guild members were obviously upset and hurt about the sudden departure of TE. Others were very angry. But in the end, it's what had to be done. After the dust settled, everyone's now ok about it. We harbor no hard feelings toward one another, and we are planning on working together in WOD. Since our guilds have very different goals and styles, we're more of an alliance now. And any players we come across that we feel fits the other guild better, we send them along. They're also willing to fill in for our normal/heroic WOD groups if needed, and we would fill in for their Mythic runs if needed.

This kind of drama could easily have broken the guild. But our friendships stayed intact and I stayed true to my beliefs, visions and goals for the guild. Once TE left, the atmosphere in the guild changed. It was a lot more light and fun again. I added another officer, and we now have one identity going into WOD. The new raid structure allows us to unify all the raiders into one group, and we're going back to our roots as being a fun "casual" raiding guild. We just celebrated our 4 year anniversary and looking forward to the future. :)

/cheers

Congrats on your fourth anniversary! I'm glad your guild was able to recover from this sorry business and that everyone was able to remain friends. It speaks to the maturity of your current and former members.

I believe that labels matter. They can change people's behavior in subtle ways. I'm not sure if you're using "Team Elite" as a shorthand or if that was really the name of the team. If it was the real name, that's a bad idea. That's the first thing that jumps out at me here.

It's one thing if everyone knows that one team is the progression team. It's another to give it a label that implies that team is strictly better than the others. People in the team may start to behave as if that's true in every sense, and people outside the team will resent the comparison. And there's really no benefit to it. You could have called them "Team Carbon" and they would have been just as recognizable without the baggage.

It sounds like they may have been trying to impose their own standards on members outside of their team. That's part of the cultural divide at play here.

If they do this in a constructive way, as suggestions, it can help players. If they choose a negative approach or issue ultimatums, then it can be stressful and even offensive to your members. That's the last thing you want in a social raiding guild.

A volatile mix

Progression raiding doesn't mix well with social raiding. The attitudes and expectations are entirely at odds. It's like having that one guy on the social softball team who takes winning and losing way too seriously. Or like having that one guy on the competitive softball team who doesn't always hustle and doesn't understand why others get upset about it. A team or a guild is better off when everyone is on the same page.

Combining players of each type in the same guild can be done. Too often, however, it leads to drama. When you have players from these two worlds filling in for each other's raids, that mixture is even more volatile.

In guilds like this, it is practically inevitable that this rift will occur at some point. The change in atmosphere you describe is the relief of having a roster of members who all have the same attitude about raiding and the game in general. I think both sets of players are better off in their own communities, and I'm glad that you have found opportunities to cooperate after the split.

Multiple goals become conflicting goals

This situation is a prime example of what can go wrong when you try to support multiple goals. All too often, multiple goals become conflicting goals, which can evolve into personal conflict.

Focused, one-goal guilds are a better proposition. Whether that goal is progression raiding, PvP, or just having fun in a social atmosphere is up to you and your members. You will have a clear message for recruits and more obvious answers to decisions that must be made.

I'm not saying that your guild can't support multiple activities. However, one and only one activity and method of approaching that activity should be the guild's mission.

Trying to be everything to everyone is more work and heartache than it's worth. Do one thing and do it well -- you'll have a stronger, more unified 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.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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