Teambuilding, Leadership and Management in at least two worlds.

If you manage staff in Real Life, or guild members in a virtual world like World of Warcraft, I strongly recommend that you read First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. In the largest study of its kind ever undertaken, the Gallup Organization studied employee performance. In spite of being based on statistics involving 80,000 managers and a million employees in 400 companies, the book is highly readable and enjoyable. It will make you more effective as a manager.

12 Simple Indicators of a High-Performing Raid Team

They came up with 12 core elements needed to attract, focus and keep the most talented employees. They also proved very clearly that an outstanding workplace, in terms of both performance and employee satisfaction, depends more than anything on the manager of the business unit. The organization and the direct manager must create an environment where these 12 questions, or at least most of them, are answered strongly in the positive.

So, here they are, slightly rewritten for our guilds and guild members:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me on the raiding team?
  2. Do I have the gear and knowledge and clear, appropriate assignment to do my job right?
  3. On raids, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last week, have I received recognition or praise for doing a good job?
  5. Does my Raid Leader, Guild Leader, or someone in my guild seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone in the guild who encourages my development?
  7. In my guild, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the purpose of my guild make me feel that I contribute in a meaningful way?
  9. Are the other raiders on my team committed to performing well?
  10. Do I have a best friend in the guild?
  11. In the last six months, has someone in my guild talked to me about my performance?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities in my guild to learn and grow?

Don’t Other Factors Matter?

I realize there’s nothing there about high pay, or benefits, or organizational structure, or job security. Those things just didn’t come to the top of the pile when it came to what employees really cared about. They weren’t significant indicators of what made a high-performing workplace stand out. The 12 questions above, were. It’s not that other factors don’t matter at all. They may be necessary to, as the authors say, “get you into the game, but they can’t help you win”.

Well, the Real Life version, anyhow. I’m fairly sure there have been no Gallup polls in World of Warcraft, at least not yet! The 12 questions identified in the book and paraphrased above were consistently able to discriminate between the most productive departments/workgroups, and those that weren’t. Simple as they appear, they are what matters most, and the book goes into a fair amount of detail to show how they link to four critical business outcomes: productivity, profitability, retention and customer satisfaction.

In the next installment of this article, we’ll talk more about what managers specifically do to “Break the Rules” and provide an environment that nurtures positive responses to these 12 questions.

Continued in Becoming a Great Manager – Part 2

6 Comments so far »

  1. by Gravity, on June 22 2009 @ 12:51 am


    This is, I think, one of the most important books published in management practice in the last 10 years. (Just checked, got my copy in ’99). It’s research is awe inspiring and the 12 questions are absolutely spot-on.

    I’d not thought of applying them to guild management, nice idea. I wonder however whether the ‘final summit’ questions of 8 to 12 are valid in an MMO; I suspect they don’t.

  2. by admin, on June 24 2009 @ 12:18 am


    Hey, Gravity, glad you’re still reading! I totally agree with you about the impact of the book. It never seems to stay off my desk for long, and I had it in mind for a few posts when I pondered creating this blog. As for questions 8-12, I do think they’re valid in an MMO, although perhaps a guild leader has a greater challenge on their hands in getting folks to Camp 3 and the Summit. The book says you may be showing the symptoms of Mountain Sickness, by the way 😉 .

    In our guild, I know that some of our members take some real pride in having a guild that fills our particular niche for people (purpose). I know that many consider it really important that we retain only raiders committed to performing well. I know for myself, that there are times when my close friendships hold me to the grind of raiding when nothing else might. As for the last two questions, I think that if our members ever truly felt stagnated in their own progression or the guild’s, turnover would be huge. So I do think the team-oriented questions apply, as well as the more individual ones.

  3. by Becoming a Great Manager - Part 2 | Defeat Dragons, on June 24 2009 @ 12:48 am


    […] Becoming a Great Manager – Part 1, we talked about the 12 questions that are indicators of a high-performing workplace, according to […]

  4. by Gravity, on June 25 2009 @ 12:28 am


    Fair point. I re-read them and think it’s really only #8 and #10 that I doubt validity to an MMO. hehe and you’re really tested my memory with reference to ‘mountain sickness’; I had to google it.

    Mountain climbers know this well. As Buckingham states: “To reach the summit you have to pay your dues — if you just helicopter to camp 3 and rise to the summit, experienced guides know you will never make it. Mountain sickness will sap your energy and slow your progress to a crawl.”
    The same is true with information and most things in life: If all we ever seek out and engage with are the highlights, the end result is going to be mountain sickness.

  5. by admin, on June 25 2009 @ 2:12 am


    Well, I was mostly teasing you a little, Gravity, but in the discussion of Mountain Sickness there’s a bit of a caution about taking the higher numbered questions for granted. I think I’m misinterpreting a little just for the sake of dialogue with you, but he does say that if everything in Camp 2 and Camp 3 seems great and all those questions are positive, before Base Camp and Camp one are answered in the positive, you may be disengaged at a very deep level and in danger of jumping ship at the first good offer. In Wow terms, burning out. It would be something like “Yeah, I like my team members, I’m learning and growing, but somehow I’m not fully satisfied with how I fit in, what I get and what I contribute…”.

    Regarding #8, I’d ask you what differentiates your guild from others on your server? What unique niche does your guild fill better than any other?

    For #10, I can see that it would be a very individual question. Some people don’t believe in forming close bonds in virtual friendships… but then, some don’t believe in forming them at work either. Perhaps it would be easier to accept the question reworded as “confidante” or “friendly relationship” rather than “best friend”. I think to some degree what he’s getting at, in game terms, is the environment the TV show Cheers was famous for: a place where everyone knows your name. What that really added up to was that at least one person cared how you were, and would notice if you vanished, other than for your contribution as a raider. Also, of course, it’s great to have one person (at work or in game), who will always offer a shoulder when you need to talk or rant. If you don’t have that in your guild, I think you’re answering “Do not agree” to question #10.

  6. by Becoming a Great Manager - Part 3 | Defeat Dragons, on June 25 2009 @ 1:37 am


    […] Becoming a Great Manager – Part 1 Becoming a Great Manager – Part 2 […]

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About Author

Atris, known in another world as Karilee, is a World of Warcraft Guild Leader and Business Consultant fascinated by how Leadership, Management and Teambuilding work in two different worlds. She believes that good leaders, good managers and good teams are essential for successfully defeating dragons, no matter what world you find yourself in.