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

There are a few management theorists out there that really nail it when it comes to identifying what employees care about. Since retention is a good thing, because turnover is expensive in several ways, leaders need to care what keeps employees happy and productive on the job. So do guild leaders. In the back of my mind, I see Mel Gibson with a smirk on his face and the cover of that movie “What Women Want”. Since I never actually saw it, and can’t give out our gender secrets (at least not easily!), I’ll stick to talking about business and guild leading and you can decide for yourself whether the theory translates over to other types of relationships.

The simplest model I’ve seen approaches the issue from a negative perspective, and illustrates three factors that create “Job Misery”. This is Patrick Lencioni’s model, taken from his book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Picture a triangle, representing Job Misery. Each side is made up of the following three factors:

Anonymity.

Nobody knows who I am. Nobody cares. Nobody says hello when I log in, or says goodnight when I leave. Nobody ever catches me doing anything right. Or wrong. They just don’t care about me. I’m just another generic <tank> <healer> <dps>.

Irrelevance.

I need to know that my efforts matter to someone. I don’t feel part of the team. Nobody thanks me for the work I do. Nobody notices my debuffing, healing, decursing, mob pickup, kiting, etc. I need to feel I’m contributing to the guild’s success. Would it matter to them if I never showed up?

Immeasurement.

I wish I knew how I was doing. I don’t want the Raid Leader’s opinion, I want to know for myself whether I’m doing the right stuff.

This word, coined by Lencioni, is about your ability to objectively judge and measure your own performance, and whether you are meeting the necessary standard. It’s about having a tangible indication of success or failure, that isn’t subject to another’s opinion, so that you can feel in control of your own situation. What your guild could do to enable this is to make sure you understand your role in the fight clearly; and provide objective tools such as WWS or other meters, while encouraging you to compare your performance to your previous ones.

So, what do we as leaders do to combat “Job Misery” on our raiding teams? Since we run a completely volunteer organizaton, failing to address the three factors above means our guilds fail. Some of the factors that contribute to combating one or more of Lencioni’s Three Factors include:

Some Things Members Do Want

Camadarie. Cheerful guild chat with low drama.

Being greeted as they log on.

Interesting forum participation with a personal touch. Perhaps a Real Life pics thread, screenshot of the week thread, or humor section.

Officers with some people skills. Friendly. Approachable.

Leaders who catch members doing something right – in public or in private tells.

Leaders who catch members doing something wrong – privately, respectfully, in tells.

An upbeat, low drama, respectful raid environment.

Raid strats discussed on the forums, with each person’s role clearly laid out.

Published WWS or similar performance logs.

Understanding of how to read performance logs effectively.

Hearing “thank you”. For buffs, for Fish Feasts, for showing up on time, for working hard. Sincerely.

The opportunity to have suggestions listened to.

Celebration of successes. Even incremental ones.

Guildmates and officers who remember there’s a person behind the toon.

Being noticed, appreciated and significant to the team.

What else does your guild do to combat “Job Misery”?

I mentioned in the last post that the founders of my guild turned our frustration with the leadership of our previous guild into momentum to start our current one.

I think that’s a really important skill. Rick Foster and Greg Hicks, the authors of How We Choose to Be Happy: The 9 Choices of Extremely Happy People, call it Recasting. N.L.P. (Neurolingistic Programming) calls it Reframing. You’ll also hear that term from Tony Robbins, author of Unlimited Power and many other self-improvement books and courses.

It’s the skill of transforming a negative event, situation, emotion into something positive; “twisting” it so that there is some benefit from the challenge. I’ve also heard it called Jujitsu, after the unarmed self defence technique that uses the attacker’s own weight and strength against them. That definitely sounds like a useful skill if you’re out to defeat dragons.

Getting this blog started a few days ago was partly due to Recasting. If you’ve read the Dedication, you’ll know I lost a friend unexpectedly. He’d intended to support me in setting up WordPress for this site, so every time I thought of the blog, which I’d failed to take action on for months, I thought of him. Thinking of him would remind me of the blog. I decided to use the intensity of those feelings of loss to make something good happen, so I got it done. The Dedication was written first.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
-Albert Camus

Does This Work on Big Stuff?

A couple of years ago, I heard Lance Armstrong speak at The Power Within Conference. He is utterly sincere and compelling as he says “testicular cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me!” That’s a pretty profound example of “When all you have is lemons, make lemonade!”

lemons

That Sounds Like Deluding Myself…?

I’m not suggesting you pretend the bad incident didn’t happen. Acknowledge it, feel what you feel about it. Once you’ve done that, check for a positive outcome, no matter how small. Look for a way to twist the situation to your advantage. Look for a way to rewrite your story of what has happened, perhaps from a slightly different perspective, and with a happier ending.

Another Real Life Example

I once opened a new branch of the computer training company I worked for, from scratch. I worked my tail off, interviewing local trainers, selling courses, finding office space, and handling all the small details involved in launching a business in a new town. Six months later it was breaking even, and I had over $100,000 of business queued up… and the company decided to close all its training branches, starting with mine as it was newest. My work would be wasted, I’d be laid off.

Once I got over the initial shock and anger, I had an epiphany. There was a ready-to-roll training business here, with all the startup work done! So I asked them, since they were closing, whether they had any objections to me taking over the clientele I had lined up, under my own banner. They couldn’t care less. They told me to go ahead, they were no longer interested in that line of business. This created an opportunity for me to launch my own training business with very low overhead, and I went for it.

What About in Game?

Back in Everquest, there was a dragon fight called the Ring of Vulak. Most raiding guilds never did it. It was a grueling 18-wave fight culminating in killing a dragon for (at best) adequate loot. It was hard. My guild was the first on the server to do it, and while a couple of others got it once, they never went back. We did the event every week, for months. We didn’t focus on the difficulty, we didn’t care about the loot. We realized it was the single best teamwork-training fight in the game at that time, consistently available to us, and we practiced until we became a well-oiled machine.

Our determination to take that “it sucks” fight and practice it until it was easy for us, led to us becoming one of the top guilds on our very competitive server. It raised the skill and confidence of our members to extremely high levels, and empowered us to victory over the next several generations of content. That’s the power of choosing to change your perspective on a “bad” situation.

How Far Can This Go?

If you’re still having trouble envisioning how you could apply this Recasting concept to your own troubles, I invite you to meet Nick Vujicic. His “No Arms, No Legs, No Worries” approach to his life is inspirational.

 

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.