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The Guild Counsel: Three common guild traps to avoid

Karen Bryan

Whether you're just starting a guild or you've been running one for a while, there are pitfalls that can easily trap a guild leader and cause all sorts of problems. We've looked at many of these in past columns, but there are some that tend to pop up more often.

Guild leaders need to cover everything from recruitment and bank management to loot decisions and even maintaining a guild website or voice server. But beneath the nuts and bolts are three common traps, which we'll look at in this week's Guild Counsel.

Appointing officers for the wrong reasons

Officers are a big help in filling various roles in guild, and guild leaders want to pick players who are trustworthy and easy to work with. But sometimes, guild leaders pick officers for the wrong reasons. Family members and longtime members can make good guild officers, but they shouldn't be chosen simply because of that single trait. Similarly, a great player might also be a great officer, but skill and leadership are two completely different things.

It's important to choose officers wisely because they're the face of the guild. They need to be strong, visible, mature, and able to communicate well. They need to be trusted by members and able to represent the guild to the larger community. The best officers are ones whom you can trust to handle even the most sensitive disputes when you're not available. With some issues being very time sensitive, those officers are truly valuable. When you're picking officers, it's key to choose players based on their ability to lead and assist with various roles. If that means picking someone who might not be the best player or someone who is relatively new, so be it.

Trying to do it all

There are two types of guild leaders who fit this bill. One is the frenzied Denmom, and the other is the Tyrant. They both might actually succeed in the short term, but it's nearly impossible to sustain that for years and years. The probably result is either burnout or collapse of the guild from not being able to cover everything. The Denmom takes on everything out of a sense of responsibility to the guild and often will do even more than necessary to try to make everyone happy. And in an effort to keep things copasetic, the Denmom actually makes it easier for members to put demands on her and the guild because she's all too willing to run around meeting those demands.

In contrast, the Tyrant doesn't entertain and handhold; he refuses to allow others to participate in guild decisions and everyday management. That "my way or the highway" approach is very difficult to maintain for long because no one's perfect, and the moment the Tyrant makes a decision that's wrong, he will lose the trust of the guild and will probably face pushback from members down the road. In addition, many players don't particularly enjoy spending their free time being bossed around nonstop, so the Tyrant is facing a pretty narrow pool of candidates to recruit. Eventually, members might opt for "the highway," leaving the Tyrant in a guild of one with only himself to boss around.

The Guild Counsel  Three common traps to avoid
Inconsistent enforcement of rules

Even the best-intentioned guild leader will eventually run into a situation for which the rules really don't produce an ideal outcome. But it's important to be consistent when enforcing guild rules and policies because once you stray from them, you're on a slippery slope. When you make an exception for one player, you open the door for others to demand the same thing.

One of the most important moments when you're starting up a guild is putting together a charter that defines your guild vision and a clear set of rules. And it's easy for a guild leader to want to cover every base and dot every eye in the rules, but it's impossible to do that. A good rule of thumb is that every rule will have an exception, so the more rules you create, the greater the potential for difficult situations. Another thing to remember is that you don't need a written rule in order to make judgment calls. Successful guilds have a nice balance between guild rules and trust in the leadership to do the best job it can in fairly managing the rest. It requires trust on both sides: The members need to trust the leadership to be as fair as it can, and the leadership needs to trust the members to be reasonable if they do question a decision.

If you're faced with being painted into a corner by a rule, and you feel it didn't bring the ideal outcome, it's a good sign that it's time to re-evaluate that rule. And if you do feel changes are necessary, talking it over with the guild and taking input into consideration will make it easier for the guild to accept rule changes. If your guild members sees that your intentions are noble and that you're doing what you're doing for the good of the guild, they're more likely to get on board.

Guild management can be a tricky business, and there are a lot of constant issues that pop up, but sometimes guild leaders end up making it harder on themselves. The three pitfalls above are easy to overlook and can make the role of guild leader feel like a job, which it shouldn't.

What traps and pitfalls do you tend to see the most? Chime in below!

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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