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The Guild Counsel: Cutting back on wasted time

Karen Bryan

If there's one thing that every guild has trouble with, it's making the best use of everyone's time. When someone's soloing, she's free to play at any pace, any time. But when you're trying to coordinate groups and raids, it's a lot more complicated. Not only are there overall guild goals, but each individual has different needs and goals as well, and it's not always possible to nail them all at once.

Wasted time is a quiet problem, but the worse it gets, the more likely it can be a potential guild-breaker. In this week's Guild Counsel, let's look at a few ways that players' time gets wasted and examine some options to prevent it.

Late events

We've all been there. A guild event is planned for a certain time, and the bulk of the guild is there on time, but everyone ends up standing around waiting well past the start time. Sometimes, it's because the leader wants to hold out for that last straggler; other times, it's because of a lack of preparation. The problem is that when an event starts late, everyone who did show up on time leaves with the impression that it's not important to be on time. Before you know it, everyone's straggling in late, and events get cut shorter as a result.

The easy solution is just to start on time and not make exceptions for latecomers. If someone's running late and there's room, there are usually ways to quickly get him into the raid on the fly, so there's no reason you can't get things started on time. Meanwhile, it helps to broadcast a few reminders of the start time in advance, so players make their way to the rally point before the event starts. It's amazing how many players don't start moving to gather until the event is supposed to start, and it usually takes a lot longer to get there than players estimate.

Waiting around

It's easy to fall into the trap of taking too much time before a big fight or after a wipe on a raid. One reason some players avoid raiding is because there's often too much standing around. Raid leaders usually give a rundown of what to do before a big pull, but in an effort to cover all the bases, they often end up giving too many details, and players tune it all out. There are some tips that are more important than others, and those are the ones raid leaders should stress. Meanwhile, the smaller details are usually ones that can be called out during the course of the fight -- and should be anyway.

After an unsuccessful pull, don't spend too much time over-analyzing things. If there's something obvious that caused a wipe, correct it quick and try again. If it's less than clear what caused it, you're better off going over things after the raid. In many cases, the strategy might be perfectly fine and there was just a mistake in execution. It's easy to make the mistake of over-tweaking things and fixing something that actually might not be broken.

The Guild Counsel  Cutting back on wasted time
Repeated events

There are times when individuals need updates or certain things from raid zones and dungeons, and that requires the help of others in the guild. But it's rare that you can get everyone's needs met just with one single run. There are many circumstances that set a scenario for multiple runs through zones -- some members won't be online, some might not be ready until later, and there are even times when you run a zone to meet a need and it just doesn't pan out. Eventually, though, players get tired of needing to run the same zones over and over, and that can actually make it difficult to field a force for those needed zones.

One great way of cutting down on repeating events is to schedule ahead of time and try to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to individual needs. If a handful of players can't make a scheduled event, pull them together and find out when they can all make it so that a second run is all you need. And make sure that players know they're also responsible for keeping track of their needs and keeping an eye out for guild events that meet those needs. There's nothing more frustrating than finding out that one member missed an update because she forgot to turn something in back in town or forgot to talk to a certain NPC. In the end, you might not be able to get everyone's individual needs met, but you can maximize the chances with a little forethought and planning.

Lack of progress

The most serious instance of wasted time is when a guild is struggling to make progress with content. Every guild hits a point when the barrier feels insurmountable, and no matter how many times the group tries, it can't seem to push forward. There's a point at which members feel they've had enough of banging their heads against content, and that can fracture a guild. Unfortunately, this one is also the toughest to solve; there's just no easy solution. Recruiting might help fill gaps, but that's easier said than done. Members might help by switching classes and strengthening the raid, but that can take time and doesn't always bring success. Sometimes it might be worth it to just take a break from the content and either go back to old content to gear up a little more, or just step back, have some fun, and build morale.

In short, it's easy to overlook the amount of time that ends up getting wasted in the guild, but the more it adds up, the greater the chance that members will throw up their hands and leave. It's usually not that hard to cut down on wasted time with a little organization and planning, but it really makes a difference. Not only does the guild get the most out of events and raids, but it means there's actually more free time that players can use however they like, which makes the guild happier overall.

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.

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