Officers' Quarters: Classic blunders

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|09.05.11

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Officers' Quarters: Classic blunders
battle of wits from the princess bride
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

Last week, we heard about an incident where a player received a rather hostile in-game mail from an officer after missing a raid following the death of a relative. The issue stemmed from a lack of communication among the guild's officers.

Along that theme, this week's email describes a case where lack of communication -- and some other classic blunders -- escalated into a full-blown drama bomb.
Hey Scott,

So I'm an Officer in a medium sized guild. Our main focus is to simply have fun, help each other out, PVP, raid, and everything else in between. I've only recently become an Officer for our guild as decided by other Officers and the Guild Leader.

About a month ago we got a new recruit. Let's call him Jack. Jack is a personal friend of our guild leader which we thought was awesome. Having at least one person you know in the guild personally has always helped us stay grounded in and out of the game. My girlfriend is a recruit in the guild and one of my best friends is one of the Officers.

So about a week ago, I logged in to see that Jack had mysteriously been ranked up to Officer rank as well. This confused me. I had been in the guild for almost a year before I was even considered for a role of responsibility. I pulled out my phone and texted my Officer buddy, let's call him Bob, to come over. I explained to him that I didn't think it was very fair that Jack got to be an Officer when everyone else had to work their way up in the guild. To my surprise, Bob had no idea about Jack's promotion. There are only 3 people in our guild that can even rank someone up to Officer and that's our GL, Bob, and another high ranking Officer. Bob proceeded to contact our GL and found out that she had promoted Jack without consulting any of her officers first. Now Bob was pissed.
Bob and I started making some texts and contacted every other officer in the guild to see their view on things. Nearly every officer we talked to, agreed that Jack had not rightfully earned a promotion. After consulting all the other officers, Bob went in, and demoted Jack back down to where any other guildmember would be after only 3 weeks. Knowing that we may later deal with a backlash from our GL, we went on with the rest of our day.

That night we were at a buddies house hanging out when Bob got some very heated texts from our guild leader. She said we had no right to demote anyone that she promotes. Our reply was that he should have to work his way up in the guild like everyone else. She said that he was brought in to take care of some specific roles, (i.e. lowbie raid runs, organizing 5 mans, etc...). We said that she could have easily asked one of her many officers to take on those roles. She came back saying that her officers don't do anything and we are lazy. Bob and her went back and forth for a while arguing.

After things cooled down, Bob and I were left with a choice. Do we try and leave the dictatorship we were apart of, create our own guild, or attempt to make amends?

A few days went by and finally Bob and our GL got onto Vent and talked things out. So there is no mutiny to be had. At least not yet.

Now we are at a crossroads. Things are going alright now, but where do we go from here? It's not exactly easy to start your own guild anymore with the new leveling system, so what do we do if this happens again? How does a guild function when the guild leader doesn't consult her officers or delegate jobs for them. Our roles as officers are sketchy at best. With proper delegation of the roles, this whole issue could have been avoided. I would personally have no problem taking on more responsibility if asked to do so.

Back before guild levels, we may have been hasty and jumped ship right away. Now with guild perks, we are forced to pace ourselves and try to work things out. This could be viewed as a good or a bad thing.

So what now? What changes need to be made? What do the Officers and the GL need to do differently? Is there a time when the guild leader needs to step down when a mutiny is in their midst?


-- A Concerned Officer
Hi, ACO.

Taking time to consider a situation rather than executing a hasty gquit is definitely the better of the two options. It appears in this case we have guild perks to thank. Overall, I believe that MMO communities would be better places if everyone took the time to think things through rather than merely acting on their gut emotions -- regardless of guild-based rewards.

As a measure of revenge, it may have felt good to demote your guild leader's friend without talking to her about it. At the most basic level, though, you were merely pursuing an eye for an eye -- the eye in this case being a significant leadership decision carried out without involving the guild's entire leadership. All you managed to accomplish by this was to deepen the disconnect between the officers and your guild leader.

On the bright side, the incident did bring out some issues that sorely need to be addressed before your guild can move forward.

Issue 1: Promotions

You've already told her how you felt about Jack's promotion. You need to worry more about the future at this point. What happens the next time the guild leader invites a friend to the guild?

Ask your guild leader what the official policy is for officer promotions. If she doesn't have one, request that she write one up. Doing so will force her to either create a fair policy or to admit that she'll just promote her friends whether they deserve the position or not. Either way, there shouldn't be any surprises later.

As an alternative, you could suggest that the officers work together to create a policy that everyone can live with.

Issue 2: Officer roles

Tell the guild leader that you as officers are open to expanding your responsibilities and that you're looking for guidance and delegation. Tell her that you want to do more -- it's just never been clear who should be doing what. Hopefully, she'll be grateful for this opportunity to share the guild's duties.

Once everyone has a role to carry out, the guild leader can feel better supported and the officer won't feel like they have sketchy positions within the community. And let's face it: Officers without specific duties tend to slack.

Issue 3: Communication

The third and final problem that I see is one of communication. All of this drama could have been prevented if the guild leader had consulted the officers about the promotion ahead of time.

I have a feeling, however, that she had no real justification for the rank-up and so decided to take the step without announcing it. Communication -- along with proper written policies -- makes it much more difficult for a guild leader to make decisions based on whims or personal preferences, which in the long run makes for a healthier and more stable guild environment.

In addition, if she had told the officers about her feelings earlier, then perhaps the anger and resentment wouldn't have built up to this degree.

The communication has to go both ways, however. You as officers need to express your opinions to the leadership as a whole, rather than using private communication channels to stir up outrage. It's a much more productive means of solving problems.

Lingering doubts

Promoting a friend to an officer position merely on the strength of a personal relationship is absolutely a classic blunder. The other two issues here reflect two of the three biggest mistakes new guild leaders make. Thus, I'm not confident that your guild leader actually knows her business.

There doesn't have to be a mutiny. However, if your guild leader is completely uncooperative about communicating and policy-making, maybe you should start to look for another guild or think about starting your own.

Keep a close eye on her in the future. Hopefully she has learned her lesson from this incident. It sounds like she has a lot to learn, actually. You can either stay and help her to lead the guild more effectively than in the past, or you can look for a guild with more experienced leadership at the helm. That's a decision you'll all ultimately have to make for yourselves.


Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to
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