How do you react when players quit your guild? This week's email comes from a member of an EverQuest guild who is dismayed by her officer's aggressive response.
Thanks so much for writing this great column. It has provided me with beneficial insight and advice on many occasions. I don't actually play WoW (I play EverQuest), but the things you write about transcend that.
I am currently a member of a struggling guild, which only has a few officers trying to run the show (the guild leader is pretty much absent, and the guild has been that way for years). The newest officer is in charge of recruitment. He does a good job of inviting people, but after experiencing our lack of timeliness and progression on raids, many of them seek greener pastures. The recruitment officer then posts something rather nasty and unprofessional on their application (which is visible to the public).
First off, I would never judge your choice of game. In fact, I'm glad to see that even those who don't play WoW still visit us at WoW Insider from time to time. I invite anyone who's been on the fence about writing to me because their question is not WoW-specific enough to please do so. All are welcome at the Officers' Quarters!
How can I effectively suggest to the recruitment officer not to do this, without ruffling his feathers? It's pretty likely potential applicants look at these posts, and I don't want them to be discouraged. I feel pretty angry/disgusted whenever one of these posts pop up.
Now, normally in this situation, I would have an easy answer for you. I would tell you to bring the matter to your guild leader. Ask them to intervene and leave the problem in their hands. Handling an officer's bad behavior falls squarely among the many duties of a guild leader.
Since you have no active guild leader, however, this gets a little more complicated.
You can't control your officers' decisions, but as a member of the guild you have a right to voice your opinion about the way they do things. I think you should do that with the officer in question.
A private conversation would limit the potential embarrassment for him and is far less likely to evoke an emotional response. Don't be confrontational about it. Just tell him how it makes you feel when you see his posts and make a personal request that he stop.
His feathers may become ruffled regardless, but in this case I believe it's a worthwhile endeavor. What he's doing is destructive to the guild and undermines his own recruiting efforts. It directly affects you and everyone else who's trying to keep the guild afloat.
If he doesn't listen to you, well, you can either take the issue to the guild at large or you can drop it and live with it. There aren't really any good options in that case.
Personally, I wish this officer would focus his efforts on keeping the players you have or adding more, rather than berating those who have left. It sounds like the reason people leave is not a personal one -- the guild simply isn't offering them the raiding environment they want.
A friendlier farewell
So what is the right way to handle a player who gquits? For officers especially, it's important in these situations to rise above.
If the player is insulting or childish when they quit, you need to stay classy. Thank them for their interest in the guild. Wish them well, even if you don't. Realm reputation is a precious thing, and it can be squandered in a moment with a few ill-chosen words. Sure, they may badmouth your organization anyway. It's still a mistake to give them more ammunition to use against you.
If the player leaves on good terms, be sure to let them know that they are welcome back at any time. Burning bridges does more harm than good. A player's circumstances may change from expansion to expansion, patch to patch. A day may come when they remember your level head and your forgiveness, even when they kind of screwed up your whole raid tier by leaving. At a later time, that fond memory may compel them to rejoin -- and maybe save a whole raid tier by coming back.
It can also pay off in the long run to ask them why they are leaving. Identifying the exact reasons that players want to quit can help you to make the right changes to the guild. That way, you can avoid losing more players to those same reasons in the future.
Keep in mind, however, that you can never know all of someone's circumstances in life. Often, these issues can be too personal to share with guildmates. So don't judge those who leave or make assumptions about their choices. Let them go in friendship -- and maybe they'll come back.
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.