How long is your trial period when you hire new staff (or a guild recruit)? What happens during that trial period to evaluate their performance? Are there steps taken to correct inadequate performance? Who makes the call on whether it’s adequate?
Some companies and guilds put serious effort into hiring people who are right in terms of both personality and performance. For example, shoe maker Zappos pays employees a bonus to quit during their recruit period. They want to make sure that they retain only people who are thrilled with the job and feel it’s the right company for them.
In World of Warcraft guilds or our real life companies, I think the first step is ensuring that people know what they’re getting into. If you raid till 1 in the morning on most nights, don’t tell recruits that you raid till midnight. If you require overtime on a regular basis, don’t indicate that work hours are 9-5, because they’re not. Misleading a recruit is only going to cause dissatisfaction and problems later. Don’t do it. It’s bad for business. Turnover is expensive.
I remember one guild that had an enormous turnover rate with new recruits. They’d join, pass their recruit period of a few weeks, and then leave a month later. Typically, that’s about how long it would take them to realize that the guild’s DKP system wasn’t fair to them. It wasn’t capped, nor was it ever reset on new content, so a few long-term guild members (mostly leadership) always had first choice on every item of gear that dropped, every time. There was literally no way for a recruit to ever catch up. If your attendance was perfect for a year and you never bought an item, you’d still be unable to compete with old-time members who were thousands of DKP ahead of you.
So What About Their Performance?
If you’re recruiting well and have a decent-sized pool of applicants, there’s less challenge here. Let’s look over the possibilities:
High Performance, Low Maintenance Gems
Ideally, you’re recruiting lots of High Performance, Low Maintenance folks: mature, low drama, do their jobs without being pushed to do so, are a good fit in personality. Communicate with them regularly, and tag them promptly when their recruit period is up. Remember to ask if they have friends that would fit well in any spots you’re still recruiting for.
Clear Out the Low Performance, High Maintenance Types
Hopefully, you’re promptly rejecting the Low Performance, High Maintenance folks: immature, unreliable, greedy, into drama, never prepped, and unimpressive performance in their jobs. This is the kind of recruit who has to be the owner’s real-life family to keep a job long in the Real World. If you’re recruiting for a Wow guild and you feel the recruit falls in this quadrant, don’t try to fix it, reject them.
Is a Low Performance, Low Maintenance Recruit Worth Some Effort?
Now it gets a bit trickier. What about the Low Performance, Low Maintenance folks? We run a three week recruit period, normally. Sometimes that’s just not long enough to be sure about these potential members. They’re nice, they fit in well, they’re reliable, but their dps/healing/tanking is a bit “meh”. Not stellar. If it’s content they know, in that class/role, it’s probably not going to get a lot better. If it’s new content, you may want to extend their Recruit period. As we discussed in an earlier post, different people learn in different ways, and some are slower than others.
To be frank, more time doesn’t always work, and it can be that much harder to reject them, but you’ll have to be prepared to do that to these nice people if you give them an extension. However, in a few cases where an extension does work, you can end up with incredibly loyal High Performance, Low Maintenance members who are well worth the effort. So if they’re relatively new to raiding at the level your guild is at, or kinesthetic learners, or very new to the content, giving them more time might be a good call. Look to see whether there’s a slight trend in improved performance. You are tracking performance metrics such as combat logs, right? Just don’t give them an extension without communicating clearly what the issue(s) are, and what you’re looking to see change.
High Performance, High Maintenance – Your Mileage May Vary
This area is a bit of a minefield. You may find the most stellar performers and the greatest challenges here, in the same person. A guildmate once told me that “WoW raiding guilds attract perfectionistic introverts”. In other words, people who are enormously demanding on themselves and others, but sometimes lack people skills. These folks can have challenges with real life vs game balance, and self control issues that result in drama, temper, sulking, tantrums and other forms of behavior that nobody in your organization is going to enjoy. Sometimes a formerly High Performance, Low Maintenance person shifts into these types of behaviors due to Real Life issues and stress.
From a recruiting perspective, you really have to ask yourself whether the (potential) gain justifies the (potential) risk. If you think it would, I would also recommend a frank discussion with the person about acceptable behavior and the consequences if it’s not. Leadership may have to periodically reign these folks in, and their turnover level is often high. On the flip side, they can be incredibly creative contributors. Many high-end raiding guilds (and companies in creative industries) recruit many of these players. They need obsessive perfectionists to achieve guild-first kills, and accept high drama and high turnover as the necessary side effects.
I can’t tell you what’s right for your guild or business. However, if you want to attract long-term High Performance, Low Maintenance raiders or employees, you have to give them an attractive environment to hang out in. At a minimum, I suggest you keep those members who fall into the fairly unstable High Performance, High Maintenance quadrant out of positions of authority. Giving these folks management, raid leading or guild officer positions is pretty high risk. Nobody enjoys abusive management, and organizations never thrive on it, long term.
Not Safe For Work Extreme Examples
The following videos contain lots of abusive and obscene language, and are extreme examples of perfectionistic raid leaders without control of their tempers. Don’t even think of hitting play if you’re at work or have a young child nearby, please. They illustrate extremely well why many of our potential applicants ask to listen in on a raid before applying.
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:
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>.
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?
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.
Whatelse does your guild do to combat “Job Misery”?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.