Sunday, October 25, 2009

Leadership Vs “Guild PUG”

Often raiding can be the catalyst that leads to guild destruction. Raiding however you look at it requires effort. This effort has to come from every member of the raid. What I mean is that everyone has to invest time to learn the fights, work on their rotations, adjust their gear, enchant, gem, and on and on and on. If you plan to play end game content then you are forever preparing and putting effort into that goal.

This is where raiding makes or breaks guilds and players for that matter. When you invest time and effort into getting to end game content you now have an emotional bond to it. Nobody likes to fail, and even the best prepared group can fail if it's not lead properly or made up properly. In my mind there is a guaranteed way to produce failure every single time, lead poorly or follow a poor leader.

This is a trap that guilds often fall into. They want to raid and they want to get everyone involved so they try to use what I call the “Guild PUG” method to forming raids. This is where a guild tries to schedule a raid that they should be able to complete. They send out invitations to the guild as a whole via the in-game calendar and only commit to specific people that are guaranteed shows every single night. Most of the time these people are in-game friends and possibly the guild core members. They are considered above the rest even if it's only subconsciously. The rest of the guild does not receive any sort of commitment. Raid night comes and for the first few weeks more than enough people sign on and the “core” people then pick and choose who they want to go based on who showed. After a few weeks though people start to show only sporadically, some even PUG raids instead of signing up for guild events because they cannot get a commitment.

This guild philosophy completely backfires. Why is this? Well, first and foremost there was no leadership. A raid leader should try to get as strong of a team a possible and commit to them as they commit to him. A guild is simply the extension of that. People have a vested interest in their character, they leveled and prepared themselves for end game content and cannot get a commitment if they are asked to commit themselves because everyone is trying to make everyone happy. The reason that I call this the “Guild PUG” is that in essence it's the exact same thing as putting a random group of people together for a raid who are not in your guild. It's also because people can PUG and get the same commitment that got from the guild.

So you may ask, “How do we get everyone involved if we only take certain people?”. It seems counter productive to make a “team” of raiders when you want to get everyone involved doesn't it. My thoughts on this are that's it's a foundation to build from to get to the point of full inclusion. I'll explain.

Here are some guidelines to follow to improve your success and happiness relating to raids and guilds.

  1. Create a regular schedule for raiding and guild events.

  2. Develop governing rules for your raid and guild and enforce them.

  3. Create ranks to sort players into categories for raiding*

  4. Select officers and leaders based on merit not friendship

  5. Set your raiding goals and develop a plan to attain them.

  6. Share every last bit of this information openly with guild and raid members.

  7. Implement a team structure for raiding.

Committing to a team allows people to plan their attendance as well as the guild being able to do the same. When I know that on Tuesday at 7 server time I am going to be stepping into Ulduar and the stated goal for the raid this week is Hodir Hard Mode then I can plan on that event and prepare for it. I know who my team members are going to be and we can as a group learn the strategies and tactics and make the attempts with the same shared knowledge. I also know that I need to continue to perform or I can lose my weekly spot to another person preparing for the same thing. This other person is an alternate and possibly a member of team 2. Alternates and secondary teams are where you get your involvement. An alternate is an understudy, they are expected to learn the fights and be available to come in and make attempts if needed. They are expected to pick your brain and find ways to improve their play to continue to progress. Secondary groups come into being when the guild has a large enough membership that they can begin to think about fielding a learning team or a second progression team. Guilds often progress and leave old content behind, they no longer run Naxx or whatever. Secondary teams can be a mix of experienced players and raid prospects. It's a solid way to get less experienced or dedicated members involved and it's a fantastic way of finding new talent and developing it. With time you can build to bigger and better things.

Guild and raid rules serve to make everyones life simple. People know exactly what to expect and exactly what they need to do or not to do. This only works if they are enforced for every member of the guild or raid and not selectively enforced. For example if you have a “ Loot Council” and the weight system is based on class type and progression need, you need to adhere to it, don't suddenly say “well let's just roll for gear tonight because I'm feeling lazy.” Setting expectations for guild members and living up to them will probably be the single biggest thing you can do to improve your happiness quotient in the guild or raid. I hope I was able to demonstrate that committing to guild members is just as important as them committing to you. Leading with a stated goal in mind is absolutely necessary for success.

Point three is entirely my own opinion. I've found that people like earning things. When they have a goal to become a regular raider they dedicate themselves to learning what it takes to be that raider. If you have guild ranks that show a players achievement in the guild it is considered a badge of honor. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I have heard people comment about getting a guild rank, whether it be from initiate to member or pre-raider to full fledged raider. It's something that the people you want around you will want.

As for sharing everything with your members. It's simple, when people are informed and lead by people with integrity and charisma they perform better and “follow” by example. A group tends to emulate it's leader.

Don't become a dead guild and “Guild PUG” your way there. Even if you aren't a guild or raid leader, you can help do these things by starting to follow them on your own and sharing them with your guild-mates. Start implementing the things you can in your own groups. When you run a 5 man group you can set loot rules, player jobs, and stated goals. For example you might be trying to get the “ Amber Void” achievement, inform the group of the stated goal, educate them as to how to accomplish it or where to go to find that information. Let them know that one of the members needs a certain item if applicable; or let them know you are an enchanter and will d/e anything not needed and at the end of the instance or chain of instances you will distribute them evenly or allow open rolling. Finally educate them to make them better. You will find people gravitate towards you and your methods. You may be able to get your guild to silently adopt these practices.

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