Why you need one
- Pressure off the raid leader: The raid leader is going to be occupied with setting up pulls, positioning and execution on boss take downs. Adding an extra job on top of that can result in insanity.
- Better understanding of what's available: A healing lead is able to figure out and "budget" the amount of healing necessary for players that take damage. They tend to be familiar with the capabilities of all 4 classes. More importantly, they know what their healers can do.
- Organization is better than none: Having your healers sort themselves may work for now in Naxxramas. But do you think it's going to continue to work when Ulduar is released? It's better to start laying out the ground rules and framework now.
- A liaison between healers and everyone else: One person can direct the traffic between the needs of the DPS and tanks with the healers. If a Rogue needs a little extra healing to make dispelling enrages from Sartharion's drakes easier, he comes to the healing lead and explains the situation. The lead tries to solve it.
Not any healer (or any person) is suited for this type of role. Healing leads need to have a diverse set of skills in order to excel.
- Critical thinking: Leads have to be able to make sense of information including "Death meters" (like Recount).
- Clarity: I don't expect to hand hold my healers. But the objective and targets have to be illustrated as clearly as possible.
- Communication: Feedback is almost always going to be constant. Is this healer dying a lot? What can that tank do to help out his healer? How's the positioning? Use that healer channel. Keep giving encouragement and constructive criticism.
In the past, I didn't become the healing lead because I was asked to. I saw the disarray of healers we had. I knew how disheveled we were as a unit. Because of my dissatisfaction, I decided to do something about it. I know some of you are thinking along the same lines. Maybe you feel there is no direction or order or structure. Perhaps your raid leaders aren't taking it seriously or are even ignoring the healers entirely expecting them to sort things out amongst themselves.
If you don't see anyone else doing it, take charge of it yourself. You're going to feel overwhelmed at first. I know I did. It's up to you to turn your ragtag group of healers into a lean, mean life-saving machine.
For the rest of this post, I want to offer you some advice and some lessons that I have learned along the way.
Be patient: When you are placed in this role, it will not be easy. It takes time. Earning respect of your peers takes time especially if you're unfamiliar with them and vice versa.
Focus on outcomes: Why should a Paladin take orders from a Priest, right?
Technically, you're not. As the leader, you won't be telling your healers how to heal (unless the encounter is micro oriented).
I call this the outcome based approach.
Let me explain. The outcome based approach simply means that you state a goal. You have an end result. Communicate to your healers what needs to be done.
Example: "You, Percy the Paladin, keep this tank alive."
Then you let the individual player worry about how to do it. If they're struggling or having difficulties, have a chat with them outside of the raid and find out what the problem is and see if you can help.
Be decisive: Don't spend hours debating how healing this player should work or who should heal that player. Pick 1 healer, set their targets, and let them work. No questions. The time for adjustments should be made in between wipes or in between raids.
Know your healers: You don't have to be best friends with them. But do get a working relationship going. See if they're the type of player that will constantly come to you for discussion. On the other hand, Joe the Priest might be a bit more shy and you may have to coax him out of his shell. Maybe a player doesn't want to discuss about his performance after the raid in front of 15 players. Make it as comfortable for them to talk with you about how they're doing.
Remain objective: Don't be influenced by healing meters too much. They only tell you how much healing was done on a particular fight. Nothing more. A healing lead has to be able to wade through all the statistical and analytical information in order to reconstruct the picture of what's happened.
Be methodical: Alright, the tank died. Open up your recount, find out why. Maybe they got parry hasted or something (at least, back in BC it was common). Perhaps a cooldown wasn't used quick enough to save the player. Isolate the cause of death and then move on making any adjustments you feel as necessary like replacing the healer with someone else or tasking another healer to do it.
For the GMs looking to find someone to handle this for your raiding guild, the best piece of advice I can offer you is to pick a player who wants to do it. Don't force someone to take the job if they don't like it or if they don't want to. They will never be as effective as someone who is energized and embraces the challenge of being the healing lead.
It doesn't matter if they're lacking the experience. They have to start somewhere. Work with them and outline what it is that they need to do to get your healers directed better.
Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx
has you covered with all there is to know! Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column Ready Check