Hot off my month-long, four-feature dissertation on casual raiding, I've decided to answer some e-mails that relate to it. This week's e-mail is about a subject that comes up quite often in casual raiding guilds: When someone is generous, helpful, and an all-around great member, but who just isn't getting the job done in raids, what do you do about it?
I'm an officer/co-GM of a humble, little raiding guild, looking to have fun, grow and progress with our members. [. . .] We take raiding seriously enough that we're not wasting our time (everyone is on time and comes prepared), but we also have a lot of giggling and laughing in vent during raids, even when we wipe.
All would be fantastical and perfect . . . except my guild is in sort of a predicament with a certain guild member. He's been with us for a while now -- long enough to not be considered a new member. He's a friend of mine, as well as a friend of our other co-GM. He's a healer and quite well geared. Probably the best geared in the guild. [. . .] Along with all the effort he's put into improving his character, he's also a decent guy. Whenever someone in the guild needs help, whether it be for a quest or for an empty raid spot, he won't hesitate to stop what he's doing to come help out. [. . .]
So, he seems like a top notch guild member. Well geared, puts effort into his character, and is a nice guy. Problem? He knows he's well geared, but he doesn't know he SUCKS at healing.
All of our core raiders have come to recognize this on their own. Most of them approached the officers about this, without any prompting from anybody else. We try to do new content with him, but every time we do, we never get anywhere. We always wipe because of his healing incompetence. [. . .]
How do you tell someone they suck at healing? Especially if they're not arrogant or obnoxious about it. I've talked to our officers about this, and nobody is quite sure how to handle this. The guy is not rude or mean, he's just naively overconfident about his own skills. He's also got the gear -- nobody else in the guild is as well geared as he is (I was the guild's main healer for a while, but I've since switched to dps and his gear has surpassed even mine), so it's seems a little bit awkward for someone less well geared to be giving advice to him.
How can we tell him that he sucks without being jerks about it? Also, who would be the best person to talk to him?
Unsure and Concerned Officer
Gear does not equal skill.
It's been said before, but it bears repeating. I'll never forget the day, a long time ago, when my guild was running Molten Core and a friend from one of the server's top raiding guilds came with us. For some reason he had two 60 rogues: one in this very successful hardcore guild, and another in our guild that he leveled up just for fun. He brought the "fun" rogue along on this run, and that character's gear was pretty terrible. He was still using the Thrash Blade from that Maraudon quest. Yet, with that mid-40s quest sword, he out DPS'ed just about everyone in our raid. Sure the Thrash has a great proc, but we had plenty of people wielding epics, and he beat nearly all of us. He was just that good at stabbing stuff. It was certainly eye-opening!
The good news for you here, UACO, is that the player you're dealing with is in fact a nice person. That may seem like bad news, but it's not. If he were a jerk, he probably wouldn't accept advice from anyone. But if your healer is as nice as you say, he will want to do what's best for the guild (and, in this case, himself). Sure, he's probably going to be a bit hurt, but you can minimize the damage with a little bit of preparation.
First, I highly recommend using a site like WoW Web Stats to start tracking everyone's performance. I've spoken about it before in this column. It will tell you not only how much everyone is healing, but how much they are overhealing, exactly what they are casting in each encounter, and how many times they're casting it. Post the results on your forums so everyone can see where they stand. Do this for a few raids before you say anything. By then, the numbers should speak for themselves.
In fact, other people might find out they aren't particularly excelling at their role, either. If any of your officers is posting ugly numbers, urge them to post publicly about how they're disappointed with their performance and what they plan to do to improve. Have them ask for advice. Doing so will establish an environment of requesting and following through on feedback that sets a good example for other members and a good precedent for the conversation to come.
It's one thing to tell someone that they need to improve their play. That's basically just an opinion, so imagine how that will sound: "Hello, friend! I'm pretty sure that you suck and should L2P." It's another thing entirely to show them exactly what everyone is doing and make a factual comparison of effectiveness. Bad healing is a lot harder to diagnose with raw stats than bad DPS. However, if your healer is getting outhealed 2 : 1 by people in dungeon rares, if he never casts healing-over-time spells or multi-target heals when everyone else is, it will be pretty obvious. It's possible after reviewing the logs that he'll reach this conclusion on his own and make some adjustments. But in all likelihood you won't be able to avoid this awkward conversation.
Choose the timing of the conversation carefully. Doing it beforehand is distracting and potentially upsetting. Doing it after a long night of wipes is just rubbing salt in the wound.
I highly recommend that you have this talk one-on-one in private. If there's more than one person on your side of the discussion, your healer may feel ganged up on. Having it in public is humiliating and will immediately put him on the defensive.
Who should be the one to do it? They need several qualifications:
- They should know the class just as well as your healer, even if they don't have equivalent gear. If they make a mistake about a class mechanic, they could undo the desired outcome. If you don't have anyone who fits that role, then it should at least be a very experienced healer.
- They should be adept at dealing with people. You need someone with a soft touch.
- They should know this person relatively well. The discussion may not go over well coming from a stranger.
- They must be willing to have the conversation. If someone is bullied or guilted into it, they may simply keep putting it off.
The actual criticism must be as constructive as possible and based on facts. It will be up to the person you've chosen how best to phrase his points. Avoid phrases like "The officers think . . ." or "Everybody knows . . ." You don't want your healer to feel like there's been a vast conspiracy involved in this talk (even though it sounds like there has been!). Throughout the conversation, your spokesperson might want to emphasize the value of the healer to the guild, praising the many contributions and sacrifices he has made. I'm not suggesting flattery -- just truthful statements about his worth and popularity.
Later, your healer may approach an officer, possibly concerned, or confused, or a little angry. So make sure your officers know that the conversation is happening. Whatever officer he approaches, he or she must gently back up the criticisms provided to reinforce the message.
If he still doesn't believe you, you may need to cite some experts. The Elitist Jerks forums are an excellent resource of class information and raiding strategies. Sites such as WoWWiki and BossKillers often recommend specific healing strategies against certain bosses. There's also WoWInsider.com's very own Raid Rx column.
It's human nature to fall into a rut doing a task a certain way if you've had success with that method in the past. Every now and then we all need to step back and reevaluate what we're really doing -- even (or should I say "especially"?) officers!