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Officers' Quarters: The strategy behind casual motivation

Scott Andrews

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.

A guild's raiding suffers most when your players feel entitled to rewards without making the effort to earn them. Part of what makes leading a hardcore raiding guild easier in some respects than leading a casual raiding guild is that your players are always motivated to do their best to succeed. This week, an officer asks how she can motivate her casual raiders to meet some basic requirements and get a second team up and running.
Hi Scott,

We run a small casual raiding guild on a server that isn't very progressed. We currently have one successful 10-man team, and have been trying to get a second one off the ground since February. We have some lenient requirements for raiders to pass: they must be willing to listen on Vent, have DBM installed, be appropriately gemmed, enchanted and glyphed, and as of 4.1, have an ilevel of 346. The raiders in the current 10-man team had no problem with this at all, but the people who would comprise the second team, and complain about wanting to raid, have put in very little effort towards actually raiding. At the time of writing this, it's June -- we have endured 4 months of trying to get this team off the ground, 4 months of complaining, and 4 months of trying to help these people get a raid happening, to no avail.

We have tried recruiting but have been having a high turnover of people who HAVE put in the effort and found themselves without a team; they get frustrated and start looking elsewhere, and I really don't blame them. Meanwhile, the lazy members remain and continue to complain, but do nothing to progress themselves towards actually raiding, no matter how often we remind them. You can't walk into Blackwing Descent with an ilevel of 328, no enchants and only two glyphs -- these people don't seem to understand that! One member even told us he was "far too busy and important" irl to have time to watch a boss fight on Youtube, despite being fairly active and often online.

It feels like all of these people want something for nothing -- they want to raid but they don't want to put the effort in to learn any of the fights themselves or meet the requirements we've set out. And when they're frustrated at not raiding, it's the guild leadership they look to for blame. I'm completely at a loss for what to do here; the old adage of "you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink" really comes to mind. Simply giving up and canceling the second team isn't the answer, because then it punishes the people who HAVE been putting in the effort. Everyone (including the officers) is incredibly frustrated at this situation -- it seems like no matter how many times we remind them to put in the effort, they assume that raiding will be like it was in Wrath.

Any advice you have on this would be great,

Hi, Frustrated. Boy, this is one of the most annoying parts of casual raiding, and I don't blame you for feeling that way. One question for you: Did you put these requirements in writing? Are they listed on your website somewhere? Such requirements never feel quite tangible enough if
they're merely understood.

The power of the written word

As I mentioned last week, writing down your policies is an incredibly helpful way to prevent drama and head off complaints. By formalizing your requirements in writing, you give your members a checklist of things to do. It won't get everyone to do it, but at least you can point to it when people want to raid before they've met these standards. The written requirements would also serve notice to people who are looking to join that they must do these things if they want to raid with your guild.

I would also suggest keeping a public list of players who are "approved" for raiding, so you have a black-and-white system for determining who gets invites and who doesn't. Ask players to request an evaluation for the list once they've met all the requirements and feel that they are ready.

Have an officer or a class/role leader look at their armory and give them feedback. It's a great opportunity for some constructive criticism before the player sets foot in a raid. Then the evaluator can either put them on the list or tell them what they still need to do to qualify.

You could even go a step further and post a list of required roles for this second team. Post the people who qualify in the appropriate spots and leave blanks for the spots no one can fill yet.

You'd be surprised how something so simple can serve as a kick in the pants for people to get things done. Seeing others on a list that they're not on is a stark reminder of their own laziness. Your requirements are so simple and reasonable that hopefully it shouldn't take much more than that to get people to meet them -- if they truly want to raid.

Consider other solutions

Until you get this second team off the ground, it might be a good idea to rotate into your first team some of the players who have been patiently waiting for the second. When patch 4.2 goes live, some of your first-team players will probably want to skip out on farm runs of tier 11 instances anyway.

If every player who qualifies gets a chance to raid, it could serve as more motivation to people who aren't yet approved. I imagine it may be hard to feel motivated when you know you'll just be sitting around waiting for everyone else to catch up.

In all honesty, depending on how many players you have that qualify to raid outside the first team, you may be better off in the long run working out a rotation and not bothering with a second team at all. Recruiting is very difficult right now. If you have only two to three extra raiders, then it's probably not worth building an entire team out of that until you manage to recruit more people.

Don't give in

As for the guy who says he's too "busy and important" to watch a 5-minute video -- wow. What a lame excuse! He has hours and hours to raid, but not an extra few minutes to prepare to raid well? I don't buy it.

Yes, it's casual raiding, but the fact that he thinks his time is more valuable than others' is the exact opposite attitude that you want to see in your raiders. That is one member who should never see the inside of a raid instance until he changes his attitude.

Maybe once the tier 11 nerfs hit with 4.2, your second-team players may see a surge in activity to get prepared and jump in. Don't count on it, however. And don't let them blame you for the lack of additional raiding, either. Make it clear exactly who is preventing these raids from happening -- themselves.

Whatever you do, stick to your guns and don't lower your standards. Outside of Vent and ilevel, your requirements are really just the minimum anyone should do when they're playing group PVE content in any form. It goes beyond smart play to a matter of common courtesy. The moment you give in to the laziness of your players, you'll put your guild on a slippery slope toward failure.


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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