For the last few weeks in Ready Check, we've been talking about some of the more difficult tasks that face raid leaders. We talked first about some tips in communicating with raid members. Then, last week, we covered some ideas about how to coach raid members.
But what happens when you've stepped up your communication and provided repeated coaching, but the raid member in question still isn't working out? When you're left with no option except to excise the raid member from your group? We could call it a dozen different things but it all boils down to this: you have to fire your raid member.
I want to make it clear that I'm not talking about how to get rid of people. It's probably more in the hands of your guild officers whether or not the raid member is still going to be in your social circle. But how do you tell someone, "Look mate, we like you, but you can't raid with us anymore."
Let's talk about it after the jump.
0. Warn them.
Step 0 is numbered that way on purpose. If the simple pre-requisite of warning someone that you might fire them hasn't already been met, then you really shouldn't proceed on to the other steps.
We've talked about coaching already. When a raid member's lack of performance has come to the point that further coaching is no longer helpful, make sure you tell that raid member, "This is the last time we can talk about this."
It's not a threat, or a promise, or any other tough-guy internet speak. You're setting an expectation that the performance must be improved, or you will have to fire them from the raid. That keeps the action from being a surprise when it comes time to go into the final talk.
A lot of the pain of being expelled from a raid comes when the raid member wasn't expecting it. "I had no idea it had come to this," should be about the very last thing you want to hear. Among other things, it probably means that you didn't do an adequate job of coaching the raid member ahead of time.
1. Do it yourself.
In many real world organizations, there's a human resources staffer or an attorney who handles the firing of an employee. There are a whole host of legal and business obligations that have to be met when letting someone go, and that person is specially trained to help make sure those obligations are met. Additionally, that specially trained representative probably knows a dozen techniques to help empathize and comfort a fired employee.
But we're not talking about a real world organization. Even if you're in the most hardcore raiding guild to ever fire up a DKP spreadsheet, you're still a relatively small-scale social group. There's frequently an aspect of social construction around a guild, but at the end of the day -- you're a bunch of peeps playing a game.
If the decision to fire a raid member is made, the person who does the firing should lead the discussion. First, only you know the full gamut of reasons that led to this moment. Only you can really, fully explain the reasoning. We'll talk about why you need that knowledge here in a second.
2. Don't do it by yourself, though.
While it's certainly true that the raid member will know something's up as soon as they enter a Ventrillo channel with their trusted raid leader and the guild's morale officer . . . you still shouldn't do this by yourself.
I understand that firing a raid member with a partner will feel like you're ganging up on the poor chap. But this is one of those "protect the raid member, protect yourself, protect the raid" moments. It only takes a cursory scan of Guildwatch to see dozens of drama explosions because two guys dropped into a channel, and someone got fired in private.
Short of an audio Vent log, anyone's story in a private chat is suspect. Even the most virtuous raid leader could let their emotions get a hold of them.
Taking a partner into this situation will provide a veneer of officiality and decorum that will helpfully prevent most dramatic situations from happening.
3. Do your homework and be specific.There are reasons that you're firing this raid member. You've hopefully even covered those reasons in previous coaching sessions. You should be ready to describe exactly why you're letting someone go, and how this decision came about.
Hopefully, when a player is fired from your raid, that player won't quit the game in a blinding fit of depression. They'll move on to other raids and guilds, and hopefully find a group with which they can further succeed.
Think of this "you're fired" moment as the ultimate, final coaching session. Bring the same items to this firing session as you would to a coaching session. As a good, decent person, you should want to see them do well in other places. If your criticism is honest and genuine, then helping make sure they know why this happened will further equip the raid member to succeed in their next guild.
4. Don't hold back.
Notice that I said "honest and genuine." There's more to that than being a nice guy. If the raid member is being let go for inappropriate conversation, tell them that. You don't need to hide it by simply saying "This isn't working out." Be honest, and let them know "Your jokes during raids can't be tolerated, and I warned you that would happen."
People can usually tell that someone's being disingenuous, and hiding your motivations isn't going to be helpful.
5. No need to beat them up.
Just as much as you shouldn't hold back logical, real reasons why someone's being fired from your raid, there's no reason to go on too long about a single subject either. Realize and be aware that this is an end (at least for now) for the raid member's association with your raid.
There's no need to rough them up. You control the raid, not the person being fired. If you want to say things like "I always knew this would happen" or "I kept telling" ... then just stop. You're not being productive any longer.
6. End the conversation.
Ideally, this conversation should take absolutely no longer than ten minutes. It's a short conversation. "I'm sorry, Bob, but I can't bring you back to raids. I've asked you ten times to re-gem your gear, but you still haven't done that."
It's a natural reaction that the raid member will want to argue their case. It's okay to let the raid member express themselves, but don't let it turn into a diatribe or debate. It's not helpful -- you've made your decision.
Express to the raid member that you've appreciated their time, and that you hope they're successful in the future... somewhere else.
Ultimately, I want to warn you that this isn't going to be easy. Firing a raid member is always a little harsh, and there's only so much you can do about that. But you absolutely should be honest, and do your best to control the conversation.
Good luck out there.
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