Saturday, February 15, 2014

Guildleader chores - Combining Skill mix, socials and new blood (TLDR version)

I have been looking at the guilds around us, and trying to see what I like about them and what I don't like, and to kinda get a vision of what I want from a guild.  The problem is, what if the vision I have ISN'T what my guildies want?

"I've got a dream, I've got a dream!" - Rapunzel in Tangled
I've said in previous posts, that the culture I have been trying to promote is a casual raiding guild, with a social aspect.  But it would be unrealistic and unreasonable to assume that the Frostwolves concept of social is the same as every other player's concept of single.

Social can mean a constant stream of chatter, with people to talk to.  To tell you the truth, that's not what I want from a social guild.  What I want from a social guild is somewhere you can play, where people are pleasant and it's ok if they keep to themselves, but as long as they don't straight out ignore you when you speak to them directly, or fill guild chat with abusive or offensive yabbering, then it's ok.

Sometimes people may think that's a bit stifling, because they want to talk with their friends.  By all means, party up and talk to them - if you want to have a boyish chat about hot chicks, or a stereotypical male conversation and make some comments that would offend some more sensitive people then do it in party or whispers with your mates. Same thing goes if you're wanting to have a girly chat about how your boyfriend doesn't know how to turn you on and you start getting explicit - hey, what you do in your private chats has nothing to do with me, but the guild in general doesn't really want to know those intimate details.

Neri and Casa said to me that Frostwolves was dreadfully silent when I wasn't on, and that really is what it's like during the day.  Peak activity is after work (ie from about 6pm still midnight server time) because we're all working. I may potter around during the day online whilst I'm at work, but it's not REALLY online doing group things, as I can't commit to any sorts of activity whilst working.  Solo content is pretty much all I can manage whilst I'm at work - even though most people would say I'd be lucky to play at work anyway, I could just as easily be playing Candy Crush or Sudoku or browsing the net during quiet times.  So people will know that during the daytime server hours, I very rarely maintain conversation, I have lots of AFKs - in general, not that much fun to be around.

So yeah, my guild isn't always the chatty type of guild.  However, when  are on, and free, we are chatty, but it takes a while to break the ice when you're new. I think I tend to be the super chatty one, but it's usually in whispers, checking that everything is ok.  A lot of people in the guild are shy and don't say much.  I remember one person who joined the guild said it was too quiet for him, and he asked if he could invite some friends to make it more lively.  From experience, this is how guild chat can become a distraction and irritating, so since that isn't hte culture of guild I'm trying to promote, I told him no.

The raiding aspect is important for me - it's what I enjoy, and a lot of our members think the same. The frictions in raiding come from different skillmixes and outlooks.  There is a whole lot of things which, when put together, can cause an explosion.  How do you deal with a group of people who all want to do the same thing - raid - but whose goals and skills are very different?

I think there are a few very important things here.  The first, is INSIGHT.

Insight is the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something. This bit is really hard. In our raids, we think about it a lot and try to be fair to everyone - it is almost impossible to be perfectly fair. Honesty and transparency make it more manageable and the right people will understand that.  And that is the key to success for us, I think - selecting the people that will understand our version of fair and be able to abide by those values.

The second, is TOLERANCE. To be a good teacher, you have to be able to accept that not everyone can do things at the same pace. Encouragement, not belittlement or punishment, is the key to success. But, there are only so much encouragement before you do start to lose patience.... /mutters to self about Asys dispelling during Protectors.... (I swear he does it on purpose to rile me up). But, raiders who think they are too good for the raid, and constantly say that, will inevitably lead to tension.

The third, is COMMUNICATION.  I don't mean only talking. I mean setting out the rules before anyone starts, so that they know what to expect, being transparent and open. Also, getting to know what the individual wants and letting them know what you want, and trying to find a medium. I am fortunate that Kyxyn, my raid leader is a teacher and I also have a major role in training and education of my juniors. We like to think we know how to talk to people who need assistance, and also because we both work in areas that are servicing the public, we spend a lot of time dealing with people who think they should be getting this or that, and don't lose our cool or get angry when dealing with difficult people, because in our line of work it will only make your job even MORE difficult. That's not to say we don't go complaining about it afterwards over a drink or two.

I spoke to three people this past week about joining the guild. The first person was an amazing healer, I really admired him, but upon speaking with him, I realised that our goals and values and raiding ideals were vastly different. I think of myself as a competitive healer, and I thought that this person was like that as well - and he probably was.  However, his idea of raiding was very different.  Because he thought he was better than the other healers, he thought that we would substitute him in to replace the other healers.  That was NOT what we were going to do. Everyone has earned their place in our raid team, and we didn't have space at the moment. Our philosophical differences were a huge red flag, and from experience, I knew he wouldn't be a good fit.  He wouldn't be happy long-term, and neither would we.  However, the conversation got WORSE...

(Off topic rant - you can skip this bit:
... the person said that they had played this game too long to be in a second class role, since Vanilla. I piped up and said that we had played since Vanilla. The he said that he would bet any money that he had been playing longer.  I asked if he had played since beta.  He said no. However Kyxyn has been playing since release, and this guy hadn't been playing since release, so Kyxyn trumped him.. AND THEN this guy said that  it didn't count if you played in Vanilla unless you were hardcore raiding, because otherwise it was a waste of time. I covered my mouth with a giggle of horror, because Kyxyn was the guild leader of the top guild on his server in Vanilla, and all top guilds knew each other.  It turns out of course that the guilds they were both in were familiar... but I told Kyxyn that this epeen flexing was getting too much, and he declared in officer channel that he didn't like this arrogant dick.  All I can say is... I was crushed - I had admired this person, had been looking FORWARD to the day that I could integrate them into my guild, only to find that they were all sorts of arrogance!  Though in fairness, his guild had just disbanded so he might have been feeling a little glum.)

Kyxyn and I decided that this person was not suitable for our guild and wished them well.
/endrant

In contrast, there's the story of Jazz and Nath, who were also looking for a guild and after a chat about what our guild was like and what we were about, it turns out that our goals in game were very similar.  Jazz said to me that she and Nath were just looking for some casual raiding, and were happy to wait their turn if it came, and also would love to come to flex for their alts, and Garrosh. Their mains had ilvls of 566, they had raiding experience, they didn't demand any raid spots, we explained to them the guild philosophy and they were quite happy - I think they would fit in very well here! They moved all their level 90s over... WOW they have a lot of 90s! 8 and 9 each!

So how do you blend the different skillmixes and gaming aspects?

Some people are not high end players - they're not going to get Proven Healer/Tank/Damage.  Some people don't have the time to commit to researching and tweaking every little bit of their toon to perfect their DPS to punch out the maximum numbers.  Some people don't want to read fights and rather turn up not knowing what to do.  How do you blend the two together to make something work?

What I have been trying to aim for is a place where people can have the more competitive end raiding with like minded people - and yet also have a place where those who like to play with their guildies as a bunch of friends can also see raiding content.  Which is why Flex raiding is so absolutely brilliant for my guild.

Flex on Sunday is our relaxed raiding day.  We take ANYONE who is 90, regardless of ilvl as long as they can follow instructions.  It's perfect for Mabaho, Faithless, McTacky, and also for those who haven't got the time to commit to full time raiding, like Voros and Yig. Attendance is not compulsory, and though some people felt like it wasn't good that the other raiders didn't attend, it's actually great that they can have a break and not FEEL like they are having to carry people.  The only thing I am pretty insistent on is that the officers attend, and Kyxyn, myself and Aimei are always a constant at Flex.  Sev comes when he can, but usually it's kicking and screaming :P  I think that being an officer means that you should make the commitment to help the guild, which helps keep the number of officers down :P

In the time before Flex, I had a friend who wanted to fill in and raid but because we didn't have that capability, however substituting into normal raids didn't seem to be a viable option for a casual and we were substituting another regular raider in who was gearing up for normal raids (they were main switching) - progress is dependent on familiarity between tanks and healers. Unfortunately, my friend ended up leaving and quitting and I was a little sad, and I knew that inside it was because of the raiding, but the timing was just wrong.  Flex would have given the opportunity to play casually with a bit of seriousness in it, and I often wished that had my friend waited a bit longer, he could have played with us.  I've always considered that a personal failure, and have mulled over it constantly, wondering, if I had the same opportunity again, how I would handle it.

However, we can also cater to our more serious players, the ones who are competitive and want to push harder stuff.  Hell, most of the time I don't feel like I play on that field (everyone knows my mouse turning short comings and it takes me a few more goes than most to get the hang of fights like Amber-Shaper in HoF and the Mogu Emperors dance in MSV).  Here at least we can push ourselves and trust in the others to do their job (most of the time) so that we can do ours.

One of the mistakes I've seen with guilds like ours who have different types of players is to splinter off and have an "elite" progress team for raiding. The "we're too good to be seen with you" mentality inevitably drives a wedge between the raiding team and the second raiding team, so that if the elite team needs some spares or subs to fill in for players, the other group will likely have the "#@%$ you" attitude because they weren't good enough then, but now they could stick it to the leet team. Inevitably, a guild like that would not survive.

The other extreme is with another guild, who have players in key roles but really, were playing below standard. I was horrified at one of the players' ability, and had a quiet word to the GM about it, who said that the problem was well known but people didn't know what to do about it. When confronted, the person did not want to change. The sad thing is, that because of that person, the good players from their raid team started to leave and look for new homes.  Having to recruit again meant a whole new lot of undergeared and inexperienced players to train up again, which could potentially perpetuate the problem, as the experienced ones started to feel disillusioned.  I'm hoping that things work out for them, but I do worry that it's a big stress which could lead to a guild collapse.

Looking at those two very different guilds taught me a lot.

Highly competitive players, who have low tolerance for those who don't work as hard as them, and resent the fact they have to "carry" a raid, are not the kind of people that would work in my guild.  Especially if you look at a raid like a job application - where only the cream of the skill mix get to go, and if someone better comes along, they get slotted in over the lowest performer in the group.  Those people are best served and most happy in a guild where everyone is of similar abilities to them, and there is a bit of competition so they feel like they're earning their place, in an area with like minded people.  There is NOTHING wrong with that - it's just that the attitude of that person would not make them suitable for how I like to run my guild.  Players like that, would never think to help the Flex runs that we run, and would probably think those players are not worthy of attention.

Less skilled players can be really tricky.  Everyone thinks they play well - until they start to compare to others and you realise how far ahead of behind they are. Yes, people should be told that they are performing below par, and yes, they should try to fix themselves. But there are ways to tell people. It's a big difference between

"Hey, your healing is really bad, if you don't pick up, you're off the raid team."
vs
"Hey, I'm surprised that with your gear level your numbers aren't as good as I would expect them to be - can I make a few suggestions?"

People can be prickly about their playstyle - I know this.  But someone that really belongs on our raid team is someone who can take suggestions in stride, and adjust and try to improve themselves.  Someone who can take suggestions and try their best to do better.  And, someone who understands that despite their best efforts, they aren't up to the task, and can step down graciously and accept they've tried their best but it isn't good enough for the raid team, but are happy to come and help with our Flex raid.  And, if they have difficulty following the instructions on multiple attempts, or if it's a gear problem in a more difficult part of the raid, we have made it clear early on that we expect those people to sit out until they gear up more on earlier parts of Flex so they will be able to survive the later parts without becoming a burden.  I say it at the start of every Flex, so nobody can tell me they didn't know, and if they don't like it, they can leave.

You'd think most people would be nice like this, right?  But they're not.  So far we have had only lovely people join our flex raids.  It's our normal raids where things get hairy. People get shitty when they turn up for raid at 9pm and then get asked to sit out, even though we have warned EVERYONE that this may happen, and that every now and then we might need people (though I cannot WAIT for WoD so we don't have to do that anymore! I know people are busy and waiting around for a raid that they might be able to attend is a waste of their time but the ones who are committed will get to sub in and raid eventually) . People get angry when told to do a certain task in a raid because it's beneath them.  People think they're entitled to get something over someone else because they're a better player. Well, I try my best to run a fair guild and the only thing that skews my opinion is guild loyalty. Being dedicated to making our guild a good place for everyone, respecting the rules and helping the guild as a whole over helping yourself is what makes you a member of Frostwolves.  And at this point in time, I can happily say that I am proud of every single one of my guild members, for helping my guild to be the great place it is at this moment.

19 comments:

  1. Lots of great thoughts, Navi, as always-:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Big thanks to you Mattyand to Saund for proof reading my stuff!

      Delete
  2. This is such a great post, Navi. Bought back so many good (and stressful!) memories of when Neri took a break from GM of Concur and handed the reins to me. It's a lot of work that sometimes goes without thanks, and it's obvious how much you care about your guildies.

    I agree with you about not wanting a constant stream of junk chatter. I spent the smallest amount of time in a "super guild" on Blackrock before we formed Concur and it was awful. There were multiple conversations going on in GChat about such varying topics (and incredibly inappropriate topics that I would have trouble whispering my bestie about, let alone in GChat). I don't know how people could keep up even if they did know everyone! You don't want to just be another number.

    Maybe you had more real life demands around the time when I first joined the Frostwolves, but I felt like I barely even got to talk to you online. I work 45hrs a week, so I only played during your peak times at night, and sometimes people did ignore my "Hello, how is everyone today" GChats. Maybe I just had terribly bad timing and people were AFK or busy, or just plain missed it, but I honestly felt lonely. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't all doom and gloom. I have met some amazing people that reside in Frostwolves that I hopefully stay in touch with! Maybe I just didn't give it enough time to build these friendships and help them bloom?

    I agree with your three key factors too. Back in the day, communication was always our biggest issue within Concur raiding. We had the most amazing raid leader, who put in hours of research perfecting strats to suit our raid structure, poured over World of Logs stats after each raid, was very clear concise and patient. Basically a dream. Except for he couldn't give corrective feedback, or wouldn't make the tough call to bench someone not up to par if it was needed to help progression (which was our main focus at the time). I think he was just such a caring person, that deep down he didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but at the same time it made the rest of the raiders frustrated because they WERE up to par and not getting the results they wanted.

    After talking with everyone and looking at individual goals, we realised we did have very differing needs across the guild. We eventually split off into two 10 man raiding teams, our hardcore prog team, and our casual/alt team. Both teams raided 2 times a week. However it ended up that some people started raiding 4 nights a week (to help the casual team) and massive burnout followed. We also had "subs" that would hang around in case they were needed, but barely got to come. So then we had to start a weekly rotation. We were very lucky that there wasn't an elitism wedge between the two teams, as we all really did work together to make Concur a better place and keep our progression rank. This was our Wrath and Cata days though, a big chunk of our founding members moved on when Pandaria landed, so I can't comment on how things are now.

    Sigh. If only we had Flex back then, it would have been perfect and solved our problems. I'm glad flex is working so well for you now though!

    And PS, that's so disappointing about the healer you looked up to. What a let down. Yeah, be proud of how long you've played and how good you are but everyone has to still earn their spot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's totally not a dig at you Casa! I was more upset that you weren't happy here and I wanted to try to think of ways to improve it. I hardly got to talk to you then you went on holidays for ages and then I never saw you anymore. We were looking forward to Friday night PvP and stuff! After what happened with you and Neri I thought about how I could try to make things more comfortable for everyone. McTacky and Luxy are usually my first routes of welcoming to try to get people to feel welcome as people are often busy or AFK - hell I get ignored heaps sometimes.
      Your previous guild was a long standing and lovely guild - but what I see happening there sometimes is stuff that we have done in our past as well, and watching some of it makes me remember what happened to us and try to think how not to let that happen again. I don't know if we can get it right, but we're going to try, and so far we seem to be doing ok.
      Differing needs are hard to cater and I'm still trying it out. I just hope it works in the long term.

      Delete
    2. No offence taken, I knew you weren't taking a dig <3 I completely understand! You're doing the right thing with continual self reflection and reflecting on how others conduct their guilds, and that's all that matters. I have thought about coming back to give a good try at making friends, but it's my first time playing Alliance since Vanilla and I am just so darn happy being an sugary little gnome that I don't know if I can play horde again!! haha.

      Delete
    3. From what I hear about your Alliance guild, it's going to get pretty active! :D

      Delete
  3. I'm glad you're at a place where you can say that about your guild members. Guild loyalty can be a tricky thing to build when you're not able to draw from a long history of playing together. It's the reason I came to Dath'remar to begin with even though it didn't work out in the end.

    Unfortunately, you can have the best of intentions when trying to help a player but that can all be for naught when there's still no improvement after multiple tries from several people.

    Great post Nav.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cym for the supportive comments. Even what happened with your guild has been a learning point for me. Loyalty is not just about a long history of playing together or even knowing each other - sometimes it's just having the same goals and attitudes, and outlook. But friendship does help hold the bonds together.

      Delete
  4. I still miss the more chatty gchat we used to have in about Wrath, it was pretty friendly and almost always stayed away from inappropriate conversations. I do miss the general conversations, the grats and welcomes as people came and left. The socialness of our guild is even the topic that got me started again in blogging .... http://bikesbabesbytes.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/how-social-is-your-raiding-guild/ And to be honest I don't think its changed much since I wrote that. However I think you're right in that a lot of the conversations have moved off to whispers, or battletag, or even vent etc. But sometimes for new guild members (or old ones returning) gchat can be a little like shouting into a forest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also depends on what time of day you log on I think. Ayelena and Saund tend to be part of the early morning group, and the rest of us get on late in the day. Tacky is usually on later in the day and he's always chatty - when he and faith are on, there are lots of grats and things happening. Ala talks up a storm at night time but I think most people tend to be quiet. I noticed Em is back, and she will be chatting again - besides, where have you been on Sundays, not online I noticed!

      Delete
    2. It's still less chatty, but it is still pretty friendly, it's just as you say, different than before.

      Yeah, my log ins have been pretty slack to, last Sunday I had a little ride with my dad :) http://bikesbabesbytes.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/i-havent-ridden-this-far-in-50-years/ and then this Sunday I didn't make it back here until Monday morning. So sleepy now.

      Delete
    3. Probably doesn't help that we are moving Flex to Saturdays...

      Delete
  5. Oh my! I'm never getting on WoW when I have the flu again :P

    I used to play a lot at night, back when Disco was raiding. I felt that as a non-raider, I missed out on much of the chattiness, because it was all happening in vent between raiders. It didn't help that I was logging in right as raid was starting, I guess! Anyhow, I didn't have that common ground or ice breaker opportunity to make new friends because I wasn't a part of the "core" team.

    That being said, Aza is lovely and will still give me a /hug or something when passing me in Shrine, and I've had a few great conversations with Mctacky. But most of the time? I don't feel included because I can't raid. I guess I am a minority though, because everyone else does flex. Good old flex! It must be a god-send!

    Maybe that will change when I sell a kidney and get a new computer, but it is what it is. I hope my honesty hasn't offended you <3

    ---

    I think I know what under-performing healer you're referring to. The problem is that this particular person is a founding member and the nicest person ever who will do anything to help the guild in a heartbeat. I can see why they're hesitant to move them into flex or whatever. If you had the choice between a nice person who struggles but brings so many other things to raid, or elitist dick healer...well you've already had some choice words to say about the elitist folks!

    I see why I quit being a guild leader now. People can be so difficult! :P




    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh no! When did u get on WoW when you have flu!
      I was mostly feeling bad because I felt you and Casa didn't feel welcome - I wanted to do my best to try to get you to fit in! Everyone knew who you were because of Disco and you are always welcome on Vent - we just don't chatter during a fight or during strat outlines, but during the relaxed bosses it's always very chatty but when we're doing new stuff, of course you can understand being a little focussed and non chatty.

      The person you are referring to is a lovely person, from my exposure to them. They are very nice, but we have had similar issues with an officer who is nice just wasn't up to the task, but you have to give them every opportunity to improve. Including telling them they aren't doing it up to the standard. Imagine if it was you - would you want everyone to continue thinking you're terrible even though you're nice? You'd want someone to tell you and help you, right?
      Your honesty NEVER offends me! I am more concerned that you weren't happy and I am trying to think of ways to rectify that situation. I don't want people to be unhappy if there's anything I can do about it - as long as it compromise the guild values!

      Delete
    2. When we had that chat earlier in the week. It was one of the reasons why I was on so much during the week, I was off work sick :)

      The guild has gone through this issue with the same person before, back near the end of Cata when they were a DPS. We spoke to her about it and she tried her very best to improve. When she didn't reach the benchmark we had put in place, she switched to healing. Unfortunately, she was new to the class & struggled even more, so in the end she took a well earned break from the game with zero hard feelings.

      She's not silly, she knows when she isn't performing as well as the others, but I just worry that they're focusing so much on one player and not looking at the team as a whole. I've seen it all happen before, where everyone points fingers and others get away with repeatedly making the same mistakes. That kind of unfairness just makes my blood boil!

      --

      Never fear, if I was truly miserable I would have ripped my priest out of the guild without saying a word. I like you guys! It's just that it's unnerving, and as Casa said, a little lonely when most people are oblivious to your attempts to make conversation. I was never sure about getting into vent; I didn't want to be -that guy- who always talks at the wrong time during a fight or whatever :P

      Delete
    3. <3 oh, it never stops Tacky and Zwingli dropping in and saying stuff in the middle of a raid! Though poor Tacky has been told off when he didn't stop talking...

      Delete
    4. OMG huge typo before. As long as it doesn't compromise guild values....

      Delete
  6. I agree, most of the problem was just bad timing. I think the only thing I can see you being able to do differently is more proactive communication, as I was unaware at the time that Lush was in the midst of switching mains - all I saw was an alt being brought in over the mains of others. Just a quick explanation of what was going on (to me and to anyone else who'd expressed interest in normal raiding) would have been perfect. I can't say it would have changed the end result, because as I said it was just a bad time for me overall, but at least then you could rest assured you'd done everything you possibly could.

    So, now you know how you'll handle a similar situation in the future, so you can stop beating yourself up about it! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's still a failure on my part, but I am learning. Proactive communication and openness is now something I am trying to push, and though it's unpleasant and uncomfortable at times, in the long run, it seems to be working out for the best.

      Delete