Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
Welcome to part 3 of my ongoing, in-depth, casual raiding how-to! For parts 1 and 2, click here and here. Last time I talked about communicating your raiding intentions and policies and emphasizing individual preparation prior to a raid. A few people in the comments felt that some of what I recommend doing is a bit too much to ask of casual players. To that I say, every guild is different. It's up to the officers and raid leaders to decide how hard to push the envelope. Only you know your members and the type of experience they're looking for. I can only tell you what has worked for me. But I will also say this: If you push your members a little harder than they're used to, they might surprise you by how they improve their performance in response. If you never push, then you'll never know. You can always back off next time if it becomes a problem.
This week I'm going to discuss two important mindsets to maintain during your raids that can mean the difference between successful runs and demoralizing disasters.
5. Foster an Environment of Accountability
Accountability ties into preparation -- everyone should be accountable for having what they need and showing up on time when they sign up for a run. But it goes far beyond that. It means that each raiding member of your guild should feel like they are part of a team, and when they do something that holds the team back or lets the team down, they should hold themselves accountable for it. For example, if you wander ahead of the tank and pull trash that wipes the group, you should admit that you're the one who goofed and apologize to your guildmates for wasting their time and gold.
It's a small thing, but it never ceases to amaze me how people can do something like that and then try to act like it wasn't their fault. If you think nobody saw it or nobody checked the combat log to see what happened, you're deluding yourself. You're not getting away with anything, no matter what you say. Denying your errors creates an atmosphere of resentment. On the other hand, acknowledging them creates an atmosphere of trust. It gives the raid the opportunity to forgive you, which fosters goodwill and allows people to get over it. Finally, it presents an opportunity for others to learn from your mistakes. If a mage blinks into the main tank and kills him during Gruul's shatter, admitting that error can be a heads up for other mages to be careful who they're blinking toward, which otherwise they might not have considered until they made the same blunder later.
This environment of accountability has to begin with the officers. As a leader, it's often difficult to admit that you're wrong. But it's critical that you do so. It will show people that it's okay to mess up, that even the raid leader can make a mistake sometimes. And it sets the example for everyone else.
Another way to foster this mindset is to have members symbolically commit to being part of the raiding team. For my guild, we simply ask people to sign up as a raider on the forums. It takes 10 seconds to do, but it means that each person who raids with us has committed to doing their best to help the guild succeed. Some guilds ask members to request a specific Raider rank. Any system you use allows the officers to hold people accountable for letting the guild down when they don't follow through with their intentions. In casual guilds where you can't often sit people out, doling out punishment in the form of a raiding ban is self-defeating. However, you can threaten to downgrade a member's status, either by taking them off the raiding list or rescinding their Raider rank until they shape up. That doesn't usually mean a tangible change in their Warcraft schedule. Still, it's a form of public embarrassment that can be more effective than any 7-day raiding vacation.
6. Take Both Success and Failure in Stride
Probably the most frustrating part of casual raiding is the inconsistency. Some nights you'll have a full crew ready to go and you'll blast through bosses like so many flimsy piñatas full of delicious loot. Other nights you'll struggle to fill the slots and those same bosses will seem like insurmountable titans laughing at your feeble attempts to kill them and take their stuff. It's the nature of the beast, though, so try not to let it go to your head. Don't get too cocky after a victory. Likewise, don't get too depressed after a failure. (Although, if your raids consistently fail, that's another story . . .)
The inconsistency does make it difficult at times to move on to new content. It's tough to down Vashj or Kael'thas every week when you never know if Hydross or Void Reaver will die haplessly on the first try or demolish your raid for two hours. On nights where your raid just doesn't seem to have it together, it's tempting to call it quits much earlier than you normally would. But you're doing your members a disservice.
When people know that a struggling run means a short run, they aren't motivated to try harder. It doesn't really make sense to me, and it probably doesn't to you either. But it's a pattern I've noticed and this is the best way I can explain it. People sign up sometimes hoping to just cruise along and let themselves be carried by the better players. If those better players aren't there and you bail on the run, the slackers are happy because then they don't have to rack up a big repair bill -- and they never have to try any harder than they do. When the raid leader makes everybody keep going back for more punishment, however, those same people realize they aren't getting a free pass. It dawns on them that the best way to end the cycle of repeated wipes is to take a stand and do something about it. Some of them might actually wake up and say, "I guess I should figure out why I'm dying every Phase 2." Or, "Maybe it's time to start using these potions I'm supposed to bring." And sometimes, you actually kill that boss (that you've had "on farm" for four months) on the eighth try. It's not pretty, but casual raiding rarely is! And you have the added bonus that some of those slackers will see that trying harder pays off, and they'll try just as hard every time from that point forward.
In a similar fashion, you might be tempted to get ahead of yourselves if success comes too easy. Especially now that most attunements have been lifted, it's awfully easy to zone in to Hyjal or the Black Temple with an undergeared bunch that has no idea what kind of demoralizing wipefest they're blundering into. Seeing new content is always exciting, but make sure you've at least got a fighting chance, or you could cause some heated arguments about who's pulling their weight in the new zones and who isn't.
By definition, progress is going to be slower for a casual raiding guild. It's a good thing most casual raiders aren't in it for the progression and the loot. We do it for the fun of it, right? But that's an issue for next week -- I'll wrap this topic up with part 4 next Monday.