Teambuilding, Leadership and Management in at least two worlds.

A wise wizard told me that there are only four critical things a guild leader has to get right:

Recruiting
Participation
Loot
Dismissal

I try to mentally keep my eye on that model when I ask myself how the guild is doing. It’s another of those models that applies very well to Real Life business management. Your fundamental systems have to be well thought out, in alignment with your values, clearly documented… and most importantly, followed.

Recruitment

I’m a big believer in recruiting for attitude, once you’ve established basic credentials. This means you need to take some extra time to get to know the applicant, and have them get to know you, but I believe it pays off in the long run. Of course, if you’re running an uber-Hardcore guild, there is no “long run” most of the time. Those guilds are often fairly unstable, with high turnover, because they can’t choose to take personality into account much. They have to focus on performance above all, if competitive progression is their reason for existing. I’m glad we don’t have to be that short-term about our recruiting, as some of our most productive and high-performance raiders didn’t start out that way.

What are the SWOTs (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of your organization’s recruiting system?

Participation

We had challenges early on with making participation fair. We didn’t want our raiders ‘competing’ for raid spots, since fun is a value as important as progression in our guild. We don’t run a bench, every raider raids (although not every guild member is a raider). We needed a way to ensure that everyone got their fair share of face time. That ultimately became our unfortunately-named “RoT” system, or “Ready on Time” system. We track who signs up, who shows up on time, and who gets in raids. Then we use an excel spreadsheet to analyze this data and show us whose turn it is to sit in backup. It’s transparent, public, and applied equitably to everyone from raid leaders down to the newest recruit.

This system has almost completely eliminated any drama over whose turn it is to get in raids. It’s also delivered side benefits in allowing us to easily track attendance patterns, and see what classes/roles we should be recruiting. We no longer have to guess at our recruiting needs. We can see changes in a raider’s attendance patterns, and an officer can follow up on that to find out if it’s temporary or permanent. If a raider’s attendance drops below our acceptable minimum, we can see it at a glance and address it. Most importantly, the system is public and objective, and everyone knows what’s expected of them. That leads to our next topic, loot.

Loot – the Reward System

Our guild runs on a “pay for participation” system, commonly known as DKP, or Dragon Kill Points. If you show up available to raid, whether you are in the raid or in backup, you earn points which can be used to “buy” items in game. It’s similar to a company that pays by the hour, although in this case everyone earns the same amount hourly. From our perspective, it’s public and objective, and that’s what matters most to us.

Some guilds use a Loot Council system, which is more dynamic and in some ways more efficient. That concept revolves around having a group (often officers) decide who needs an item most. What you give up for that efficiency is objectivity. Loot Council systems tend to attract drama at times, even in very mature guilds, but when progression > all other values, it can be the right system.

The main point is that your system, whatever it is, has to be clearly documented. Members need to know what they’re agreeing to as a reward system, before they join. Questions need to be addressed promptly and clearly. Definitely, no smoke and mirrors. Whatever is promised has to be what’s really delivered.

Retention/Dismissal

The final Key to a successful guild is to have a plan or system for dismissal. I consider retention the flip side of dismissal, and tend to spend more time thinking about retention, but both have to be considered by any guild leader. Retention is mostly about fair systems, clear expectations, good communications and good listening. More on that another day.

Dismissal, or any kind of turnover, needs a defined process. The way we handle it is to make sure that all officers know that while they can guild remove a member in an extreme case, the member in question should be told it’s a temporary situation while the officers discuss it. Nobody, even the guild leader, removes a member permanently without discussion. If a member is removed, or leaves on their own, we make sure we find out why, and keep notes in the officer forums so that we can track trends, and also so that we have them for reference if the person wishes to return at a later date. Any organization that has no form of exit interview when people leave, is giving up valuable information that can help them become more successful.

12 Comments so far »

  1. by Tufva, on May 29 2009 @ 7:53 am

     

    Great post!

    I was particularly intrigued by your way of filling raid spots and would love to hear more about that if you are willing to share. We are currently in the middle of trialling various systems to find one that rewards the right behaviour while being transparent.

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  8. by admin, on June 2 2009 @ 3:08 am

     

    Glad you liked the post, Tufva. Creating a system to, as you say “reward the right behavior” was well worth the effort for us. It’s a fair amount of work to keep up, but it’s been so helpful, particularly in giving us more predictability in our recruiting needs, that it’s been worth every minute spent on its upkeep. I’ll paste in part of our policy here. If it sounds like something you’d like to look over, I’d be happy to share the spreadsheet. You’d need at least Excel 2003, and someone who knows the basics of pivot tables. We do data entry for every raid, tracking who was signed up (imported from our calendar), who was in raid, and who was “ontime” 10 minutes before raid start. Here’s some more details:

    Since we run without mandatory attendance, all raiding members will sometimes sit out of raids. We deliberately recruit approximately 120-130% of the raid force expected to be required for your class, since no member in this guild maintains “perfect” attendance at all times.

    Because you have the freedom of never being required to attend any particular raid, you also have the responsibility to take your turn sitting out some raids without complaint. Often this can be beneficial, since you get an opportunity to catch up on dailies or other farming needs while still collecting DKP in the Backup channel. You are never penalized in DKP due to having to sit out a raid, if you join the Backup channel.

    The Ready-On-Time raid tracking and rotation system (ROT) was created to ensure that Members & Recruits who sign up AND show up on time for raids are rotated as evenly as possible, given the class/role distribution needs of specific raids. It is used to track ONLY 25-member DKP raids.

    It ensures that members are given equal opportunities to raid, on average, based on the proportion of raids they sign up and show up for. For example, if you sign up for 20 raids and show up for all of them, you are likely to get in about 16 of them if our recruiting is on target. If I sign up for 10 raids and show up for all of them, I’m likely to get in 8 of those. Your ROT% is proportional to your overall participation.

    ROT% is calculated as the ratio between your raid participation versus your raid attendance. Raid participation is purely the number of raids you’re invited to at raid start. Raid attendance is the number of raids that you sign up for and are on time for (on your main 10 mins before raid time). ROT% = Participation / Attendance.

    It’s not a perfect system, but it attempts to be an equitable one which rewards behavior that supports the guild’s raiding goals. It helps raid inviters do their job fairly, while eliminating accusations of favoritism. It is meant to ensure that each raider is given opportunities to raid, proportionate to the raids they sign up and show up on time for. It also provides the guild leadership with important statistics related to recruiting needs and actual raid attendance, and assures new recruits that we’re not going to keep them on the bench most of the time.

  9. by JudgeWicked, on June 2 2009 @ 8:21 am

     

    I feel like you wrote this just for our guild, weird.

    Our guild is going through a transition right now and the points you discuss are spot on. Thank You!

    Would it be possible for me to get a copy of your spreadsheet as well? I’ve started one, but yours seems to be much more developed than my nacent project.

    Cheers!

  10. by Mestage, on June 4 2009 @ 4:08 am

     

    Where can we get a copy of the spread sheet, would love to have a look, sounds interesting

  11. by admin, on June 4 2009 @ 1:58 pm

     

    Mestage and Judgewicked, I’ll zip up a copy of the Excel spreadsheet and send it to you. Unfortunately I can’t just put it up on Google Docs, since they don’t support pivot tables. You can feel free to disable the macros, they’re just a convenience for importing data. You’ll need to be fairly comfortable with Excel to figure out all of it, there’s a bit of documentation but of course I’ve slacked on updating the docs since I’ve been the only one maintaining the spreadsheet. I think there’s enough there to be quite useful if you know Excel well, however.

  12. by Jerodar, on July 27 2009 @ 4:18 pm

     

    I’ve recently discovered and read through your blog, and it’s very inspiring for a budding new officer as me.
    We’ve recently run into some problems with raid invites, since we finally have more then enough members to fill a raid.
    That reminded me of the system you wrote about in this post, so I would like to ask if you could send the spreadsheet? Hope you still read this, and thanks :)

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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.