Officers' Quarters: Drawing boundaries with a new raid team

Scott Andrews
S. Andrews|12.16.13

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Officers' Quarters: Drawing boundaries with a new raid team
Dark Shaman in Siege of Orgrimmar
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.

When you're both the guild leader and the raid leader of a guild, everyone looks to you to have all the answers. This week, one such officer finds himself tanking for a second, newly formed raid team. He wants to know how he can help without becoming the default leader of the team.

I have a question I would like discussed and I'm sure others are having similar question. I have what I consider a social raiding guild. ... I come from a history of progression raiding from MC onwards and raid leadership since the 15 man UBRS days. My main is Wumper-Saurfang and my guild is Carpe Jugulum. ... We have our midweek (more serious) team, Thursday night team (recently started SoO) and a social Flexi raid on Saturdays. Physically we have too many for a single 10 toon raid, and not enough viable raiders for a 25 toon more serious raid.

My question is how do I bridge the learning gap in the Thursday raid without becoming a leading participant of the raid? We have a new team that has started with a positive intent, a clear charter and rules. From the midweek (more serious) team we provide youtube guides videos for fights they are coming up to, visual class guides, discussion threads of tactics, approaches and role based discussion. We stream our fights for members to watch (and they do) when we're not recording for guide creation. If I am to get involved in the raid, because I am the GM and raid lead and would be tanking on my second bear, I will wind up taking a lead role within the raid. Currently I fill in as a reserve tank as required.

The guys in the Thursday raid have a lot of potential, but most of them are either newer players or haven't really lead a raid since Wrath when raiding was very different. Their goal is to enjoy raiding without being super serious. They've got the raid start-up problem of not getting enough early progress and a miss-set expectation level because of the ease of LFR and Flexi. I'd really like them to be successful but am struggling to work out how. I know my style of raid leadership will get them progress, but it won't be their raid with the culture they want. I want this raid to be viable without taking people from the midweek raid to do it as I will lose the more serious raiders. How can we best help so that the Thursday raid is a success?

In anticipation,


Carpe Juglum – Saurfang

"A drinking guild that raids"

Hi, Wumper. I like your guild's name and motto. Well done!

I also understand where you're coming from here, and I applaud your restraint. I think it is good for both yourself and for this new raid team that you don't want to become the de facto raid leader. For one thing, you shouldn't stretch yourself too thin. Leading one raid team is stressful enough, let alone two.

Also, as you say, you don't want to change their culture too much. Sure, you could take charge and, over time, turn this team into a boss-slaying powerhouse. But you are likely to lose members along the way, and those who remain may no longer recognize the team they started out with.

I'm happy to hear that this team has its own charter and rules. It's important for this raid team to have its own identity. If you're going to tank with the team in any capacity, obviously you need to abide by those same rules. So anything you could do to help that violates the spirit or the charter of the team is already out of bounds.

Don't lead -- advise

The best approach here is to play an advisory role rather than a leadership role. Make it clear to the raid leader that you have no intention of taking over the team. You want that person to lead all the way. If you don't have a raid leader yet, you need to find someone else from the team to take on that role as soon as possible.

In the long run, it will be good for the guild. Having another viable raid leader is a huge benefit. This raid leader will pick up how it should be done eventually, if they stick with it. By taking the lead, you would undermine that. You'd also be locking yourself in as the only guy who can manage it, which is a bad message to send. Some guilds literally cancel their raids when the raid leader is absent. You don't want to take your guild down that path.

So what can you do? Offer advice -- if and when it is asked for. Let the raid leader know that you are happy to answer any questions they have or weigh in on any issue, but you're not going to intervene.

Encourage this person to keep your advisory conversations in whispers or the /o channel rather than the raid channel or voice chat. Part of being a leader is making it seem like you know what you're doing even when you're doubting yourself, so the confidence of your team can remain high. If this raid leader is constantly asking for your advice in guild or raid channels, it's going to seem like you are the one actually leading.

You need to be the wizard behind the curtain here. Publicly, you should be the same as any other member of the team.

Letting them learn

Playing a more passive role could be more difficult than it sounds for you. When the team is wiping to a mechanic because their approach is different than what the other team does, you need to bite your tongue and allow the learning process to occur. If the raid leader asks you how the other team does it, it's fine for you to explain it. However, second guessing the raid leader's strategy unprompted would be bad for morale.

The team as a whole needs to learn how to troubleshoot, to solve problems in a way that works best for this group. If you volunteer all the answers before they're even requested, you will undercut their ability to learn and adapt. They need to feel like they are overcoming these encounters because they deserve to, not because you are there to hold their hand.

At the same time, however, you can encourage members of your progression team to take a look at players of their same class. They can suggest changes to improve the performance of these other players. This type of criticism needs to be 100% constructive, though, and only offered if the person receiving it feels comfortable.

Every raid team is different. Every team has its own strengths and weaknesses, and what works for your other team might not work for these players. Sure you can read about an encounter, you can watch videos, etc., but at the end of the day a raid team needs to find the strategy that works for their own unique blend of capabilities and personalities. That's a big part of the fun of raiding.

Do try to have fun, if you're going to run with this team. Don't stress too much about progression or meters. That's the whole point, after all!

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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