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.

After over 20 years as a corporate trainer, I remain amused by the common perception that anyone can (effectively) give instructions or teach. It particularly surprises me that we are generally so ignorant of the importance of this skill, since we all need to do it, frequently, in small ways or large. It’s one of the key reasons many managers don’t delegate well. “It’s easier to do it themselves” because they lack skill in this specific area of communication. Many Wow Guild and corporate errors or miscommunications (or even accidents), are caused simply by people not knowing what’s expected of them. That’s also one of the most frequent complaints from employees about their managers, and a significant cause of job dissatisfaction. Your employees and your guild members want to feel they know what’s expected of them.

Who Will Teach the Teachers?

I remember having a conversation with a few bewildered T.A.s (Teaching Assistants) at a university faculty party once. I asked them what was done to prepare them for teaching, as they were actively doing the lectures for most of the classes they T.A.’d. That’s right, the Profs frequently don’t bother coming to class. Anyhow, their universal answer was “They make sure we know our stuff”. I reworded my question a few times, but I was speaking about a reality these otherwise-intelligent people couldn’t perceive. They kept giving me the same answer, unable to conceive that the fact that they knew the content didn’t automatically enable them to transmit that knowledge to someone else.

They honestly didn’t know that there was any specific skill or technique to teaching someone something, beyond knowing the content. You see the same belief frequently in parents who decide to teach their children (or spouses!) to drive. And usually the same abysmal level of success.

A Major Reason Raid Leaders (and Raiders) Get Frustrated

So I recognize the situation when I see it in World of Warcraft. Many boss fights are complex, and in some cases there are very specific actions each class/role has to take. One of the things my guild does well is that we don’t have only one raid leader. We have one who is arguably the best at on-the-fly strategy tweaking for progression fights. We have another who I would choose hands-down to lead any farmed content – he keeps things upbeat, moving quickly, and efficient. We have one that is brilliant at troubleshooting individual performance issues, and dealing with them in a calm and respectful manner. I consider myself best at complex fights where people are having trouble with the choreography. A fight like Kael was perfect for me to Raid Lead. Of course, we don’t always use the “right” raid leader at the right time, but a balanced variety helps.

Different People Learn In Different Ways

Due to my professional training background, I simply have more tools at my disposal for understanding why people are challenged by learning certain things, and how to address it. I consciously attempt to help the visual learners with diagrams, breaking out Visio when necessary. I know the kinesthetic learners need to learn one piece at a time, hands-on. I’m ok with the fact that the auditory learners need a verbal explanation, even if it’s all written down for them on the forums. I know that even if I explain the fight clearly in vent (for the auditories), I need to type key points for the visuals. I know that NO amount of explanation is as good as “Let’s pull this so you can get a feel for it”, for the kinesthetics.

I’m considered patient, but that’s mostly just understanding that different people learn in different ways, and at different paces. And, of course, having “Push to Talk” on my microphone so nobody hears the occasional ranting and cursing. 😉

“‘I think I should understand that better,’ Alice said very politely, ‘If I had it written down: but I’m afraid I can’t quite follow it as you say it.'”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Let’s Have a Four Minute Lesson in Giving Better Instructions

Now, there’s more to it than that, of course. I taught the prep course for Microsoft Train the Trainer Certification for three years, and it was a two day course, even though most participants had several years of training experience. However, a few basics and a little thought about the process of giving instruction could help your raids be much more enjoyable, and your progression smoother. Here’s a very short, simple and useful lesson in giving better instructions:

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.

Every organization needs a clearly stated intention. If you don’t know what your purpose is, you aren’t going to have a hope of aligning a team to get you there.

“Our intention creates our reality.”
– Wayne Dyer

My World of Warcraft guild started as a split off from another guild. Many of us had joined it to raid, and yet its most senior officers, although they’d never stated it, saw it as a social guild. The focus and discipline of raiding wasn’t something they wanted to do, and one day one of them told several of us who had been trying to keep raids going, “If raiding is essential to your enjoyment of the game, you should leave.” We waited a day or two for the Guild Leader to retract that statement. We were angry, because we’d never been told it wasn’t a raiding guild – in fact we’d joined that guild to raid. With a little thought, we realized that we’d been done a favor. We had clearly been told we couldn’t have what we wanted there, and we knew what we wanted. Five of us decided to leave and form our new raiding guild.

One reason it has been successful is that we stated our purpose, our intention, in writing at the start. Everyone who joined that guild knew what its goals were. Now, about 80% of the old guild ended up following the few who left, and that became a challenge in the first year, because our vision of progression raiding involved educating all of those people to what that meant and what it cost. However, we had the touchstone of our clearly stated objective for the guild to fall back on, and we stuck to it as we created and refined policy. Anyone in our guild could tell you its purpose, which is one of the essentials for its survival and prerequisites for success.

I’ve often noticed when talking to entrepreneurs, or even employees, that the clarity with which they can state the intention of their organization or role is a pretty good test of how effective they are in it. Ask someone “what do you do?” or “what does your company do?”. If you can’t get a clear, focused answer in 25 words or less, it’s a symptom of a much bigger problem.

Some Examples

Our guild is a guild of friends formed to have fun together raiding all current progression content, while keeping Real Life > Game.

I am a ‘personal business trainer’, partnering with organizations and entrepreneurs that have made the decision to make a quantum shift in their growth.

Try It Yourselfmagnifying_glass

Try the ’25 words or less’ test on your guild, your business, your job. Try it on your choice of friends. In this world of information overload, being able to refine your focus to what is most important is critical. When you can angle the magnifying glass just right, you can light a fire!

This isn’t going to be your typical World of Warcraft blog.

I have a strong interest in leadership, management, and teambuilding. World of Warcraft has been an incredible environment for me to observe some things about what works, what doesn’t, and why. The opportunity to compare and contrast these activities between gaming and RL, aka “Real Life” has, I believe, broadened and strengthened my previous understanding of them.

It’s also really messed up my work life. I used to like playing solo, in both Wow and RL. Now I prefer being on a team. I have a whole new appreciation for the scope of what can be achieved by a team working in synergy together. In short, I’ve been wrecked as a soloist entrepreneur. I want to be part of a team. At a minimum, I want a partner or a Mastermind group to swap and explore ideas with. I’ve learned down to the core of my being that you don’t accomplish great things solo. Or at least not as great as those you can accomplish with the right team. Two (or more) heads really are better than one, as long as they interact effectively.

So whatever the dragons you want to overcome in your life, I believe building a team will help. Being able to do the leadership and management tasks necessary to keep a team running well will get you further than soloing. That’s the stuff I’m here to write about. I just think it will be more entertaining for both of us if I mix in illustrations from the game. Some days its more fun to think of defeating a dragon than creating a killer marketing plan. Overcoming a giant, rather than managing a project.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

Welcome to Defeat Dragons.

 

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.