The Guild Counsel: Stop yelling!

Bobby Knight yelling
Guild leaders and raid leaders have a bad reputation for being loud, cantankerous, and well, mean. If you make a mistake, you'd better brace yourself for an in-your-face, five-minute reaming-out in front of friends and guildmates. Not all leaders are like that, but it's common enough that it tends to be the standard M.O. that players picture of those in charge.

It's time for the yelling to stop. It's giving guilds, and MMOs in general, a bad image, and it really isn't necessary. In fact, it's quite likely that all that yelling ends up making your guild less productive when all is said and done. In this week's Guild Counsel, we'll look at four reasons it's time for guild leaders to calm down and stop the screaming.

We're not a captive audience.

We've seen the Billy Martins and the Bobby Knights of the world, and while they achieved success with their style of leadership, they were in charge of people who couldn't pull the plug if they didn't like what they heard. In MMOs, your audience is not captive, and if you turn people off with constant yelling and an in-your-face approach, you may end up losing members who can either move to another guild or simply leave the game completely.

In fact, we're in an MMO age now when it's even easier for players to wave goodbye to screaming leaders. There are more games out than ever, and within those games there are many more guilds than there were in the past, so if a player is tired of the screaming, it's a simple task to deguild and find a guild with matching playstyle and a calmer tone. And yes, it is possible to be a bleeding-edge, high-end raiding guild without yelling.

It isn't that effective in the long run

Everyone can probably point to that one teacher who was a screamer. Mine was a music teacher whom I had in elementary school; she seemed to constantly have on a neckbrace and always seemed to take great offence when we missed a note or didn't sing loudly enough. (Perhaps the two were related, now that I think of it.) And it would always come out of nowhere too, so we'd be cruising along in our song, and right in the middle of the second verse, she'd stop playing the piano and launch into a loud, dramatic tirade. Now, I'm sure by today's standards, she'd find herself being investigated for child abuse because teachers nowadays aren't allowed to do something that might hurt a kid's feelings. But in reality, none of us ever was hurt by it, and in fact, it was pretty much pure comedy to us because she overused it, and when yelling becomes a predictable part of someone's demeanor, it really isn't that effective. In fact, because her tirades were so ridiculous, they were counter-productive. So you're going to pound the piano keys and scream at Bobby because he wasn't making an O shape with his mouth? Guess what Bobby's not going to do next time around!

50 dkp minus
It's awesome until it happens to you

I love the people who raid with the attitude of "stfu and do your job" and who complain about the other guy who isn't pulling his own weight. They're usually the first ones to cheer on a confrontational raid leader, but when they're suddenly the target of the yelling, it's a completely different story. When that happens, it's usually the raid leader's fault for not seeing things properly, or it's someone else's fault for doing something to get them in hot water. The last option, that it's actually their fault, is never considered, and the yelling ends up not accomplishing what it was meant to with this particular breed of player.

For the yelling raid leader, this is also a potential minefield. In some cases, the yelling will definitely get people to sit up and take notice. But in many others, it will bring about resentment, pushback, and potential drama. Raiding guilds tend to be full of type A personalities, and when egos get bruised, someone's going to end up paying for it.

Are you yelling for them or for yourself?

In some cases, fiery leaders scream not because they're trying to get their point across but because they're trying to blow off steam when they're frustrated. This is probably the worst thing to do, though, because the yelling isn't fixing the mistakes that caused the problem, and you're also encouraging everyone else on the raid to do the same thing when he's frustrated. It's bad enough when one person is cursing and yelling, but imagine 12, 24, or 40 people doing it. Guild events become miserable experiences, and even if the guild ends up winning, many members will probably walk away with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Having said that, I believe that guild leaders do need to enforce a modicum of organization or else it will be impossible to accomplish those guild goals. And guild leaders who are used to yelling might have a hard time adjusting to that without that crutch to fall back on. But it's possible to keep order and still keep a calm demeanor, and in fact, it can be much more effective in the end. I remember a raid leader who used to constantly yell at raiders who made no effort to get to the rally point on time, and usually we'd end up waiting another 10 minutes for the arguing and excuses to play out in chat. One day, he stopped the yelling and simply started the raid on time, leaving the latecomers to hoof it over on their own. They missed out on the first few boss kills, and the resulting loot, and they no longer had the opportunity to make a scene and further delay the raid. Not only did they start showing up on time, but everyone else knew that if you were lolly-gagging at the crafting table or dueling in the guild hall, you'd be left behind at start time.

Now, I'm not saying that you can never, ever yell as a guild leader. But yelling is almost an art form, and it's most effective when the person yelling is actually cool and in control of his emotions. If you're a guild leader who uses yelling to vent, create shock value, or intimidate members into not making mistakes, you're most likely setting yourself up for lots of drama, high turnover rates, and even complete guild combustion at some point. So the next time you're about to start cussin' and spittin', reconsider -- in many cases, silence is golden.

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.
This article was originally published on Massively.