Officers' Quarters: When the old guard returns

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|11.27.12

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Officers' Quarters: When the old guard returns
Officers' Quarters The old guard returns MONDAY
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.

Officers come and go. Real life intervenes, burnout sets in, interest wanes -- these things happen, and officers disappear for months or even years. But sometimes they come back. This week, one officer asks, what then?

Hi Scott,

I'm officer and raid leader of an intense 2/week 10-man raiding guild that's been running in one shape or another since TBC. Due to some old timers coming back we're now in a situation where our raid consists of 50% officers – and only 3 of them by function. We've always steered closer to adhocracy than bureaucracy, so the title is secondary to most of us – my main concern is that so much communication is now happening within the officer-circle that we're alienating our crucial core raiders for no apparent reason.

I've given it some thought and there's a few options. We could stay as is and simply promise to only use officer forum/chat for administrative and recruitment purposes, but that doesn't solve the hierarchal dysfunction. We could demote the officers that have no real officer duties and risk segmenting an otherwise tight-knit guild. Another option is to take the consequences of our culture and flatten the guild entirely, choosing to make all decisions as a guild – but that obviously carries risks too.

Bottom line is that I don't know the right path forward. What are your thoughts?

A confused officer

Hi, ACO. What you're dealing with right now is a very awkward situation. In hindsight, the best solution would have been to demote the officers who left. I don't think anyone would argue against that kind of demotion. That way, when and if they did come back, a promotion back to officer status could have been a discussion rather than an automatic. If this applies to anyone else who hasn't come back, demote them immediately.

For other officers reading this, I always recommend demoting inactive players. Not only does it solve the "too many cooks" issue before it can happen, but it also prevents collateral damage to the guild bank if their account is hacked.

I see two possible solutions to this, and also a general policy that you should try to follow. I'll start with the policy.

Get out of /o

Officer chat is where the cool people hang out. Discussions in that darker shade of green always seem much more exciting, because not everyone can see them. It's also a channel where officers don't have to censor themselves or worry about offending anyone. For these reasons, officers in many guilds tend to spend too much time chatting in /o rather than /g. You've already seen the result: what looks like a vibrant and active "guild chat" to an officer is instead dead silent to a regular member.

Don't let it continue. Talk to the other officers about it. Any discussion that doesn't have to be in /o shouldn't be. If you can convince them to chat more in /g, then it may solve your current problem without taking the other steps if you don't want to (though I think you should).

Reset the roles

It's simply a better situation for everyone when every officer has a role or a duty to fulfill. When "legacy" officers have the exact same guild rank as officers who are doing all the work of running the guild, it leaves a bad taste in people's mouths. It also sends a message that it's OK to do nothing -- you get to keep the rank anyway. Your hard-working officers may see that and decide that they don't want to do all that work anymore.

Now, you could create a "legacy officer" rank if you want to and sidestep the issue, but I don't think it would really solve the situation. Forcing your returned officers to step down, as you point out, may cause unnecessary drama. Instead, you could try a reset.

A reset means you take the officer corps back to square one. You allow anyone to step down from the officer rank who wants to step down. Of the players who want to remain as officers, each person will have to volunteer for a certain task. Create a list of everything that has to be done.

When officers can volunteer for tasks, they are much more likely to follow through with them. Sure, you may find out that someone isn't suited for a certain role, but that's far less worrisome than the current state of the guild.

Bold flattery

Your idea to "flatten" the guild and essentially do away with officer roles is an intriguing one. For a small, ten-man raiding guild, I think it could work. You could redistribute the labor in the same way as above, but with everyone in the community volunteering for tasks.

I also think you should either give everyone an officer rank or no one (except yourself of course). The former is easier, but riskier. The latter will be somewhat tough because you would be the only person who could invite players/alts, deal with the protected guild bank vaults, etc. If you call it a "flat" guild but then maintain the officer status of some, it will ring hollow. The rank structure has to reflect the policy. (Obviously, new recruits could stay in a recruiting rank.)

If this strategy fails, you can always go back to having a small officer corps. However, because you've already flattened the structure once, you've now essentially accomplished what I suggested before they came back -- to demote them and then discuss re-promotions.

What have other guild leaders out there done in this situation? Has anyone tried the flattening idea? Tell us below!


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
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