In past columns, I've talked about how most drama is the result of expectations that differ from reality. In this week's email, we have a perfect example of that.
Good morning, afternoon, evening Scott,
We've recently run into a unique problem in our guild. I've previously been a guild leader and officer elsewhere, and have taken up the chief raid leader position in my current guild, and this problem is unlike anything I've encountered before.
We're a relatively new startup guild (only 5 months old), comprised mostly of people who are just returning to the game after trying out a few other failed "WoW killers." I met most of the current leadership in these other games, so when they asked me to be the raid leader for them in WoW, I jumped at the chance to return. The structure was set up so that I would lead a progressive-minded raiding core of 25 raiders, while more casual raiders would have both a weekend and weekday 10-man option. We even built in a casual officer who organizes other games, old-school raiding, fishing contests, etc. The idea was for everyone to have something to do if they wanted, while all contributing in some way to each others' successes.
Whenever someone says that you "lied" to them, that is a big problem. I doubt you intended to deceive anyone, and yet the co-GM who gquit believes that you did. The problem as I see it is that this officer had certain expectations -- expectations that turned out to be untrue.
In our planning for MoP, we were all discussing our plans, and mine included getting my raiding team leveled as quickly as possible to raid in the first week. Initially every officer was in support of this, and we began building a structure for profession masters to powerlevel their professions to craft gear for everyone while receiving materials from everyone in the guild, progression raiders to social members. Both myself and the GM felt this made us quite attractive for new members, and we started seeing dividends as our numbers exploded to more than 100 unique members with many alts, ranging from filling out the 25-man team, both 10-man teams and us leaving us contemplating forming a third 10-man team to fill demand. We even restructured our EPGP loot system to reward members who contributed these materials ...
Last week, another officer (and co-GM) approached me and told me my group was being "too intense" about raiding and talking about MoP plans. He asked me to drop my team down to a 10-man progression team because other members felt the 25-man would be getting "preferential treatment." He argued that the social members have no motivation for contributing materials and equated their being in the guild to slave labor for the progression raiders. This confused me and other officers, since our plan from the beginning was to recruit for a 25-man progression team, and EPGP was used not just for raiding items, but any BoE items dropped from raids and put into the guild bank.
After that meeting, things went downhill quickly. The co-GM quit, taking another officer and 7-8 other members with him, accusing me of being an elitist and saying he was lied to from the beginning about our plans. This has led to a lot of hand-wringing on our other officers' part, wondering if he had a point. The team of progression raiders I lead has been asking me what this means for the team, and while I say it hasn't changed plans, I can't for certain say that everyone is on my side (the officers who quit were very close friends with the GM and other members of the guild).
Is there anything I can do to stop the bleeding, ensure everyone that our plans were fine? Or should we legitimately reexamine our plans for the new expansion?
The immediate issue
The cause of this bad blood seems to revolve around the EPGP system and the material contributions to the raiding effort. It sounds like a pretty fair system to me, so the problem is likely one of communication rather than implementation.
Before you lose anyone else over this specific problem, you should make clarifying the system a top priority. Post about it on the forums. Make yourself available to answer questions about it. Don't shy away from the fact that people have gquit over this issue. Ask for suggestions about how the system could be improved. Encourage members to voice any concerns. If it's possible to make it more fair, now is the time.
You could also reach out to the co-GM who walked away and try to find out exactly what his expectations were and how he believes the guild didn't meet those expectations. He may or may not cooperate, but you could learn some valuable lessons from this difficult conversation. You may even be able to patch things up with him if you simply hear him out, but that's probably wishful thinking at this point.
The raiding identity issue
Your guild has an identity crisis, and you need to resolve it. Times like this are why it's a great idea to have a guild charter that outlines exactly what the guild is about, what its goals are, and how it will proceed to accomplish those goals. Such a document outlines your guild's raiding identity, which is crucial for a raiding guild. When you put such things in writing, no one can argue about them. More importantly, you will prevent misunderstandings or false expectations.
Since your guild is so new, I'm assuming that you haven't had a chance to really nail down these policies. If you don't have a charter or you have a vague charter, then my recommendation is to have an officers' meeting where you guys sit down and hammer one out.
The top task for this meeting is to decide whether or not you and the officers want to run a hybrid raiding guild with multiple teams and multiple attitudes toward raiding.
You can have a progression team and supplementary teams. However, finding a good balance among them is a difficult, ongoing problem. And people will always accuse the progression team of getting preferential treatment. In some sense the progression team will get preferential treatment, simply because more officer efforts will be directed toward making sure that team succeeds. It's inevitable due to the size and nature of it, and that may be why your ex-co-GM eventually spoke out against the idea of a 25-man team.
If you and the officers decide that you don't want to move forward with this hybrid model, then a guild raiding identity has to be established as soon as possible. You have nearly a hundred people waiting to see what will happen when Mists launches, and you owe it to them to sort this out before the expansion goes live next month.
If you decide not to pursue a 25-man progression team, however, you should expect many of the progression-oriented raiders you've recruited to leave. At that point, their expectations will not mesh with reality.
Your job is to make sure that all of your members are treated fairly and respectfully regardless of their raiding status, and that your members know how the policies of the guild ensure that everyone is treated this way. Put everything in writing so it can't be disputed.
Communication is the key. I've never heard of a guild yet destroyed by too much communication, but not enough communication has destroyed thousands.
Officers' Quarters keeps your guild leadership on track to cope with sticky situations such as members turned poachers or the return of an ex-guild leader and looking forward to what guilds need in Mists of Pandaria. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.