Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.
What does your guild mean to you? Is it a community of like-minded players enjoying the company of their peers, helping one another to meet goals, and overcoming challenges together? Or is it simply a means to an end, a treadmill of raid attendance and loot rewards, where you slog through the necessary steps but never feel any real companionship with your fellow raiders? Some guilds start off as the former -- a fun, social organization -- and then end up as the latter -- a tier-set assembly line. This week, one officer wants to know how this can happen and what he can do about it.
I'm facing a dilemma that I'd like to share for a possible "Officers' Quarters".
I am an officer in a medium-sized European raiding guild. We have always been proud on our mature and social playerbase. It is one of our spearheads to provide fun raids in a relaxed atmosphere. But lately, the social aspect has been degrading. Ever since the launch of Wrath and people rushing to level 80 something has changed. Where TBC provided a challenge and a common goal to work towards (mainly progressing through the different raid instances) Wrath has left us with a lack of common binder.
Our members are too busy with themselves, either working on achievements or doing the Argent Tournament. There is no helping each other out unless there is something to gain personally. A raid nowadays is a group of people gathering, doing what has to be done, and going there own way as soon as the raid is over. Although there is still laughter and silliness, it's very limited and only from a couple of players. Most communication done is strictly functional. Guildchat is the same, hardly anyone greets a person who comes online and the chatting has been reduced to "Gratz" on an Achievement. It is hard to describe the feeling but trust me when I say that the connection between the guildmembers is missing somehow.
This has caused us to lose our edge over other raiding guilds, and now we face players leaving to find the missing link elsewhere. For me, the exact cause is indefinable, its hard to fight a feeling that my guildmembers have, let alone come with a solution. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
Thank you in advance.
Guilds go through periods like this from time to time. A few problems could be the culprit in your case.
One is that your members have "cliqued up." That means they'll help out the people in their group, and interact with them on a social level, but they don't want to deal with anyone else. This usually results in fewer conversations in guild chat. People have their own channels or use Vent to communicate, so they don't have to deal with people outside their clique. One way to identify this type of behavior is to look for patterns of who's running Heroics together, who's in the same Vent channel, etc.
Cliques are common in larger guilds especially. They have a purpose in that they keep people who actively dislike each other from interacting too often. But they can also produce the feeling of social malaise that the e-mail's author is witnessing.
Another cause could be a single player, or maybe two, that have shut everyone else down. Do you have a player who constantly begs for help in guild chat, even for things they could easily do solo? That could dampen your member's enthusiasm to help anyone. They won't want to speak up and be ID'ed as a person who helps, because then that player who always needs help will pester them.
Do you have a player who makes awkward statements in guild chat? A player who says offensive things, or bums people out with depressing statements, or trolls the channel looking for an argument, can absolutely murder guild chat.
These problems can be difficult to root out if you didn't notice them before they shut down the socializing in your guild. The only way to find out what happened is to speak with some members and ask them why they think the social nature of the guild has changed.
Identifying the cause is just the first step. Now you need to take steps to build up a community again.
My recommendation is to talk to your fellow officers about the issue. Acknowledge the problem. Some officers may not even be aware of it. Then discuss ways you can help. This is definitely a situation where officers have to take the lead.
Encourage them to instigate conversation in guild chat. Stir things up with a joke or just talk about a movie. Get people talking to one another, even if the conversations are silly. If your officers are prone to having fun conversations in the officers' channel, ask them to take those conversations into /g when they can.
Also, ask your fellow officers to be the ones who volunteer to help. As the leaders, you have to set the example. Helping encourages others to help.
One thing I do every so often is to schedule a two-hour window, announced in advance, where I help anyone with anything they need to do. It's tough sometimes to drop what you're doing to help someone with a random request, particularly if you have limited playtime. But if you log in with the expectation that you're there purely to help, you can approach it with a more positive attitude, and even have some fun with it. By announcing it in advance, it can cut down on the random help requests throughout the week. People will know that if they ask during that window, they'll get the help they need.
Another strategy is to ask if anyone needs helps when you first log in. That way, you won't have the feeling of being interrupted in your tasks.
You could also put together a fun event that isn't raiding -- something purely social or fun (or even achievement-based, like raiding cities, if that's what it takes to get people interested). Give your members something interesting to talk about. Even progression raiding can become a chore. Do something new and different!