Archive for July 20th, 2010

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Confessions Of A Former Raid Leader

July 20, 2010

I haven’t been raiding in a long time, and it’s been even longer since I was a raid leader. Lonomonkey’s post and question about raid leading yesterday, however, made me reflect back to those (sometimes) good old days with my old guild.

The question was, in a nutshell, how would you handle a situation in which one of your “hardcore casual” guild’s most popular healers aren’t keeping up and is causing wipe after wipe after wipe? Here’s essentially my response, but now bigger and better in bullet point form (courtesy of Anjin, Inc)!

  • If someone isn’t keeping up with the raid, you have to tell them. As a raid leader, that’s definitely not something you should be keeping to yourself. Chances are, he/she is aware that they are the one dragging the raid down, or others in the raid might suspect, and in the long run this just leads to bad blood and more problems for you to handle.
  • Get in touch with the raider through a private channel like an in-game tell or through Vent, and let them know of your concerns. If possible, have some numbers or stats to back up your side of the story (I really hate damage meters and their ilk, but if you’re a raid leader you really should have them).
  • Offer to help improve their performance. If it’s a rotation or strategy-related problem, point the person to online resources. If it’s a gear issue, schedule some time in your guild calendar and gather ’round some friends to help that raider farm badges or try for a certain piece of loot to improve their stats. Concurrently, I would probably look at the person’s gear to see if they have the best enchants/gems/armor available; if not, I’d either craft it for them myself or ask another guild professional to do it using guild mats from the vault.

I was pretty confident of my response to Lono at the time, but then I also had the entire day to think about it afterward. In theory, I believe the approach works — it’s supportive, it’s diplomatic, it’s friendly. Oh, but I forgot! Things rarely turn out the way you want them to in theory. God, it really has been too long.

From experience, I know I’m a lot more lenient than a lot of raid leaders out there. In some of the other guilds I’ve worked with, if you don’t pull your weight, you’re automatically out of the raid, period. And only after a public shaming, of course. I’ve never subscribed to that type of leadership as I believe it’s unnecessary and degrading, and that’s not something I want to promote in a guild. But damn, do those guilds get results. Do their members give their raid leader lip when they get called out? Of course not. With them, they know damn well it’s shape up or ship out.

Have I had successes with the above methods of how I handled raid members who, for some reason or another, weren’t pulling their weight? Of course; I would say I improved the performances of the majority. But there have been some setbacks as well, like that Rogue who insisted on using the wrong weapons for his spec. Or that Hunter who wouldn’t fix her rotation. Oh, and that other Hunter who kept taking the wrong stats.

Perhaps I should take Lono’s question a little further and ask: What do you do with the handful of belligerent, egotistical, adamant, dense, pig-headed and immature individuals who refuse to listen to advice? Because that’s where I personally faltered. What made it harder was that all the guilds I’ve ever been in were casual and family-oriented. In other words, we were always a guild of friends first, raiders second. It made me feel like crap to have to tell a friend, “Hey, sorry, but there hasn’t been any improvement even after you were given all these resources, so I’m going to have to give your raid spot to someone more deserving” and so as such, I rarely did. And I’m fully aware that there were people in the raid who took advantage of that.

In the words of Machiavelli, it’s far safer to be feared than loved if you can’t be both. Perhaps all the issues could have been avoided if I had taken a hard line right from the beginning, and ran my raids like a boot camp. The problems with that though, are 1) It’s not in my nature to be cruel, especially to the people I call my friends and 2) it would have completely destroyed the spirit of our casual, happy-go-lucky little guild. And perhaps trying to perfect that little balancing act is exactly how and why I burnt out so badly, to the point I was convinced I wasn’t cut out to be a raid leader, or thought I’d never want to lead a raid again.

Anyway, as I led my raids to further successes, its members became more and more ambitious, and in some cases, over-confident. It was all sunshine and rainbows when things were going well, but it was a stormy deluge of drama as soon as things turned south. I didn’t appreciate being treated like a doormat, but as I’ve already alluded to in my ramblings above, it’s one thing to rip into a total stranger and boot them from a PuG, it’s another to do so to a buddy you’ve played with, talked with, laughed with on a daily basis. That was my personal challenge, one that I never really found a satisfying solution to.