Officers' Quarters: Friendly favors

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|04.06.09

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Officers' Quarters: Friendly favors
Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

I'm sure plenty of officers out there can sympathize with the dilemma in this e-mail. The officer who wrote it has recently been promoted (yay!), but now her friends come to her for special favors, intervention with other officers, and insider information (uh oh). She wonders if she can be a good officer without pushing her friends away. (Go easy on this e-mail in the comments. English isn't her first language.)


Since you mostly base your posts on e-mails from your readers I thought to send you one concerning my own current problems (I wouldn't know if people can relate to this).

I'm a fairly new (2 weeks) officer in a 25men raiding guild. We have about 30-35 raiders and more social members! I started off as taking over the healing assignments, which led to my opinions about healing setup/healing trials, which led to partly raid leading and then I got promoted. We're only with 3 leaders (the GM and 2 officers-including me) which I think is enough for our guild, people listen. The tasks get done, communication is good . . .

But, I'm this kind of person that cares for the people, I want to stand up and have a fair treatment (which happens in my guild). The thing I've experienced thou[gh] with that attitude is . . . I'm friends with a lot of people in the guild, and sometimes that makes things difficult. In these 2 weeks I've experienced several times of friends expecting me to do them a favour officer wise.
[. . .] E.g.: One of my friends gets a talk (decided by the officers) due [to] his behavior in the raid, he doesn't get demoted just a small talk. After that talk, what happens? They come talking to me about how the officers did them bad, and he doesn't think he did anything wrong, he feels like he's being punished for something he shouldn't get punished for . . . Now, what [. . .] should I do? I try to have a friend to friend talk but somehow the officerpart takes over as well at times. [. . .]

Is this normal? Should I take more of a distance from people to avoid mixing up officer/friendship? After all I want to be there as a friend but sometimes I have to talk to them trough the eyes of an officer. I'm trying to avoid the conversation about what we as officers talk about, but people tend to bring it up at times or confront me with it.


A newbie officer

Oh, it's a fine line we sometimes tread, isn't it, ANO? After all, what's the point of being an officer if you aren't on some level befriending the people you're leading? You have to be a ball buster sometimes, to be sure, but the camaraderie of a well-run guild is one of an officer's very few rewards. Or should we stand above our members, denying ourselves the natural rapport that comes with overcoming shared challenges?

The question is particularly poignant for ANO, since she rose up through the ranks and now her friends expect her to be their champion.

Hey, it's no secret that our world leaders do favors for their friends when they reach a position of power. That's part of the reason they want the job. There's no reason you can't advocate for a friend if you agree that he's been wronged by the officers. If you think your friend has a legitimate complaint, then be a good friend and take the issue upstairs. See if you can rectify the situation to everyone's satisfaction.

If you think your friend is in the wrong, however, and the officers are right, then be a good friend and be honest about it. Obviously he disagrees with the officer who chewed him out. Maybe if you give him a bit more of the officers' perspective on the incident, he'll understand why things happened the way they did. Regardless of how he feels, he can't fault you for being straight with him. And it's also possible that he just needs someone to rant to when he's upset. You can still be that person.

Just because you're an officer doesn't mean you can't be a friend. The key point I'd like to make here, however, is that as an officer you can't only be a friend to your friends. You have to be a friend to all the members under your charge. When it comes time to deal with a delicate situation, do what's fair regardless of whether that member is a close friend or not.

If you only help your friends and ignore everyone else, you won't be a very effective officer. Gradually, the other members will catch on to that pattern of behavior and they'll resent you -- and your friends -- for it. And much like those world leaders who make their friends rich while bankrupting everyone else, you'll be run out of town sooner or later.

As far as disclosing what the officers discuss, you'll have to use your own discretion about what to reveal and what not to. In these cases, I find it better to give someone a general impression than a specific statement. For example, "The officers were disappointed with your effort in the raid last night" is a much better way to approach a conversation than "Officer So-and-so said you're the worst tank he's ever seen."

Some people will always want specifics anyway. They'll follow that up with questions like, "Who said they were disappointed?" or "What did they say exactly?"

You don't need to answer those questions. If you do, it will only create hurt feelings and bad blood between that member and the specific officers who were involved in the criticism. It will also make the officers feel like they can't be honest around you, and you certainly don't want that. Do not let your friends turn you into the /o channel narc.

Just be general and present the officers' feelings as a collective emotion. If the officers don't all agree, members don't need to know that either. You can just say, "Some of the officers were disappointed" instead.

If your friends don't understand why you aren't giving them the juicy inside scoop, then explain to them the awkward position that they're putting you in by asking. They may be let down at first, but (as mom would say) if they're really your friend, they won't ask you to do anything you don't want to do.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas, and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters! For more WoW Insider gameplay columns, click here.
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