I would like to start off by stating that I put this together in hopes of helping guild members, officers and leaders with improving their overall skills.  Be it with following or leading.  This in no way pertains to all individuals but I am sure there are plenty out there that should be able to takeaway at least one thing from this post.

 

I have been in hard-core raiding guilds since EQ days and I have seen guild leaders/officers use threats towards guild members like:  “If you don’t shut your mouth I’ll kick you out of the guild,” “Do it my way or else.”  In addition, I have seen guild leaders/officers jump all over members, when it truly is uncalled for.  I’ve heard from individuals, in other guilds, who tell how bad they are treated.  All of this instead of showing the individual respect and/or explaining what needs to be done.  Yes! There are many times when a guild member may be out of line but why humiliate them in front of everyone?  If you must resort to threats against a guild member to get results then you are not a true leader and I feel sorry for your members.

 

Why do leaders/officers get away with this?  It’s very simple.  Most members are scared that if they speak their mind and/or defend themselves they will be kicked from their guild and in doing so they will lose any DKP they have built up, friends they have made, etc.  Why wouldn’t one think this when they are told “Do this or else!”  Another reason is that many of the guild members are teenagers and are inexperienced with proper management.  They have temporary jobs where their managers treat them the same way so they don’t know what else to do but to keep quiet and take it.

 

In my past guild I spent time as an office and I didn’t have any issues.  I finally resigned when our GM started dating a member and showing favoritism by promoting her to an officer and listening only to her.  He stepped over the line when he actually kicked another officer from the guild when she spoke her mind.  In addition, he started threatening people that if they spoke to the person he was dating wrong.  It got so bad that he threatened he would subtract DKP and such.   Yes, this is an extreme but I just wanted everyone to know that there is drama in every guild and in some guilds way too much, but that is why they don’t last.

 

The below was put together in hopes of helping those guild leaders/officers that may not have much experience in leading but have the knowledge of the game.   Please realize that just because you may know the game doesn’t mean you know how to lead. 

 

Let’s Try To Look At It From Another View…

As a Guild members should look at themselves as a single living entity. They progress from early to mature phases, independent of the nature of the Guild or the task they must perform. One aspect of this development is each individual’s attitude or relationships, both within the Guild and with the Guild officers.

I have a book, here in my office and in it the author refers to four phases of Team development: "forming, storming, norming, and performing."  Below I am going to go through the four phases.

Phase 1: FORMING

Forming is the orientation period. The Guild is not sure what its task is and members are not well acquainted with each other, nor have they learned what sort of Guild leaders they have. Guild members want to be told what to do. They tend to respond to the leader's requests and express negative feelings either very politely or privately.

During this first phase, the Guild leader needs to empower the members and assist them in establishing guidelines for accomplishing the task. One way to help do this is by soliciting Guild members' ideas by asking open-ended questions and complimenting them when appropriate.

Phase 2: STORMING

Storming is the phase when Guild members feel more comfortable expressing their opinions. They may challenge the Guild leader's authority and recommendations. Some members may become dissatisfied and challenge not only what the Guild is to do and how it is doing it, but also the leader's role and style of leadership. As a Guild leader, one must not try to avoid this phase. A Guild that does not go through the storming phase will not learn how to deal with conflict. According to Palmer, "Teams that never storm are passive, fragmented, and significantly less creative." Phase two is a sorting out period where each member begins to find his or her place as a Guild member. However, it should be noted that Guild members can and will change roles according to personal interests and Guild needs as circumstances change.

Phase 3: NORMING

Norming is the third phase and builds on what was learned in phase two. Guild members begin drawing upon their cumulative experiences for working out their problems and pulling together as a cohesive Guild. This process should result in the Guild establishing procedures for handling conflicts, decisions, and methods to accomplish the Guild projects.

During this process the Guild leader needs to continue with activities that empower Guild members, create trust, provide a vision of what the Guild can become, and teach decision-making and conflict management skills.

Phase 4: PERFORMING

Performing is phase four and is where the payoff should come. In this phase the Guild has achieved some harmony, defined its tasks, worked out its relationships, and begins to produce results. Leadership is provided by the Guild members best suited for the task at hand. Members have learned how to work together, manage conflict, and contribute their resources to accomplishing the Guild's purposes.

After reaching phase four the Guild leader needs to remain alert to the Guild's needs in skill development, conflict management, trust building, and improvement of attitudes. When changes occur that affect the Guild's task, membership, or other areas of concern, it is not uncommon for the Guild to repeat the four-phase cycle. However, the process should be much smoother after the first time around.

Before deciding that a guild is going to make it to “Performing,” ask these questions of yourself and your fellow Guild members.

Can we keep our egos in check?

Are we capable of admitting to individual mistakes, weaknesses, and insufficient knowledge?

Can we speak up openly when we disagree without blowing up?

Will we confront behavioral problems directly and not in public settings?

Can we put the success of the Guild over our own and agree that GUILD>INDIVIDUAL needs/wants?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is “probably not,” then you should think twice about being a Guild. Why? Because more than structure, it is the willingness of individuals to change behavior —starting with the officers of the Guild and working down to each member you should determine whether you truly want to be a Guild and work together or if you just want to argue and complain all the time. 

 

LISTENING & CRITIQUING

 

Active Listening - Communication is a two-way street, so it is important that you listen carefully to your Guild mates when they are speaking. Don't tune speakers out or get caught in the trap of planning ahead to what you want to say next. You may miss an important detail, and in the worst case, you repeat the detail you missed because you were not listening.  We Never Listen When We Are Eager To Speak, So Be A Good Listener For Your Ears Will Never Get You Into Trouble!

Ask Questions - If you hear something that confuses you, you should ask about it. Maybe you missed a detail or maybe you remembered something others forgot. In any case, it's important that everyone understand exactly what's going on. Chances are that if you're confused, then others are too.  If a Guild member asks you a question, you should answer it courteously. The Guild member may be bringing up a crucial detail that could make or break the Guild's plans.

Constructive Feedback - Although it is important to evaluate prooposed ideas and suggestions, critiques need to be presented with tact. Some tips that may help:

  1. Don't express an opinion as a fact - You may hate the amount of DKP you are receiving for a specific boss, but that is an opinion unless you can cite a legitimate reason for your concern (such as that this boss is the hardest boss in the game and the drops are blah..blah…blah… so we should get this amount of points).
  2. Explain your reasons - If you do have a strong opinion, explain why you feel that way. This will allow others to evaluate your comments more effectively.
  3. Restate the original idea - To be sure you have correctly understood someone else's idea before you respond to it.
  4. Compliment another's idea - Even if you do not think it would work, some part of it may be valid and could be usable in another form.
  5. Respond, don't react - If you feel like you're ready to explode, give yourself a few seconds before speaking.   READ THIS AGAIN!!!
  6. Don't interrupt
  7. Critique the idea, not the person
  8. Be courteous

 

Chat a Little – No raid should be 100% business. It is perfectly fine to ask Guild members how they are doing or what they are planning next weekend, etc. This can really help ease tension when disagreements occur later. Of course, you should not socialize during key fights and/or specific times but just use common sense as to when would be a good time to chat a little.  Note that you should not carry on lengthy conversations for the entire raid.

 

For serious disagreements - You may want to call or talk to someone in private /tells, in vent (in a PRIVATE room) or call them on the phone before sending another /gu or /ra chat. Sometimes it's easier to discuss things on the phone or one-on-one than airing it out to the entire Guild/Raid.  During verbal communication individuals can hear your mood but in the game or in chat they can’t so perceptions could be wrong of what you are trying to get across.

 

Use Emoticons or "Communication Tags"- Since your Guildmates will not be able to hear your tone of voice (if not on vent), emoticons can add a touch of personality to your messages and defuse comments that could be misinterpreted. Some famous emoticons include:

o           Friendly Smile - :) or =) or <grin>

o           Apology/Frustration - :( or =( or <grrr!>

o           Shocked Face- :o or =o

o           A Wink - ;) (or <irony>...</irony>)

 

Don't write/speak when you're angry - There's no time limit on e-mail so give yourself a chance to calm down before writing a response.  “Say something when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”   READ THIS AGAIN!!!

Re-read your message before sending - Confusion is even more likely over the Internet, so it's important to be as clear as possible.

 

 

UNPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR

 

What is "Unproductive Behavior"?

Clearly Unproductive

Some behaviors are clearly detrimental to the functioning of the Guild. These include:

1.        Consistently missing Raids

2.        Consistently missing deadlines for Farming

3.        Never coming prepared to Raids 

4.        Discourteous or disrespectful language

 

When Excessive "Guild Behavior" is Unproductive

Other behaviors may be acceptable and even beneficial in moderation, but in an extreme form, can be disruptive to the Guild. For example

Normal/Productive

Extreme/Unproductive

Raising a Concern

Nitpicking - Questioning or objecting to every possible detail on the raid.

Asking Questions

Missing Details - Constantly asking questions because you were not paying attention the first time or went AFK in the middle of a raid.

Ownership/Responsibility

Possessiveness - Refusal to allow anyone to alter or critique the work you have done.

Principled

Uncompromising - Never accepting any proposed compromises.  It has to be your way or that’s that.

Listening & Reflecting

Lurking - Never contributing in Guild meetings or other communications.

Staying in Touch

Nudging - Always sending reminders and not allowing members a reasonable interval before responding before sending out more notes

Follows Procedure

Inflexible - Not allowing for changes in a plan or agenda

On top of things

Doing Everything - Not allowing other members to make contributions

 

 

Respect Your Officers

Guild Officers are your leaders, and this is a very important position because they are responsible for the management of the entire guild. However, it is important for them not to have to worry about being disrespected and/or ignored.  Yelling and/or demeaning behavior towards your officers can truly hinder progression and shows a lack of respect for that individual.  This is a two-way street though.  Your officers should not be yelling and/or showing demeaning behavior towards guild members as well which I will touch on more later.

Your leaders are responsible for setting our agendas, facilitating raids, and monitoring progress while communicating with members as needed. However, all actions should be agreed to by the Guild. Although the officers may suggest a course of action, they must be sure the Guild agrees to it and understands it. If the Guild wants to go in another direction, the officers should be willing to listen and either be willing to compromise or explain why they have decided not to go in another direction.  Listening is KEY!!!

A few final bullet points:

If you truly want to work together, as a Guild you need to follow these steps, if you do I assure you that Communication, Trust and Productivity will greatly increase among your Guild members:

 

 


 

Criticizing a Guild Member's Performance

Guild Leaders and/or Officers are caught in a seeming paradox:

The reason for this is that they need to create and maintain good relationships with all guild members so that they can get the members to work together and complete tasks, as a team.  At the same time, they need to constantly perform course corrections on others' performance without hindering the overall guild performance.

In other words, sometimes they need to criticize.

The paradox is only apparent, not real. Skillfully delivered criticism enhances both the relationship and the targeted performance. The five simple rules for delivering "criticism at its best" are my subject here.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when they despise him, horrible if he must threaten them to get results.....But of a good leader who talks little when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, "We did it ourselves.                                                       ~Lao Tzu~

 

1.  Think it through before you say something.  Don't just shoot from the lip and yell at a member out of anger.

Reactionary responses to unwanted behaviors subvert the working relationships you need to clear instances, take down mobs or even run efficient raids.  A problem worth solving demands your concentrated attention and focus to gain desired outcomes. This may mean not saying anything at all until you have mentally rehearsed your delivery and envisioned the receiver's response.

That which angers you conquers you!

 

2.  Criticize in private (and praise in public).  MOST IMPORTANT STATEMENT EVER

Public criticism offends not only the receivers, but the observers. No one wants to see or hear another person publicly hung by someone when they can address the issue one to one.  When a problem arises during a guild encounter or raid, acknowledge it and say that this is something that needs to be addressed "later" or "between the specific member and yourself" or "without taking up everyone's time" or if you are using Team Speak/Ventrillo ask the guild member to go to another channel with you, along with their class officer.  This way you can explain the issue with another individual present and it’s not later taken out of context and turned into she-said/he-said.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.  Not because you are in charge and can make them.
~ Dwight Eisenhower ~

 

3.  Respond to problems in a timely fashion (otherwise known as "nip the problem in the bud") and take only one point at a time.

Realize your own propensity to put off discussing problem behaviors. Remember the difficulty in reconstructing problems because everyone remembers them differently.  Remember your laundry list of complaints and the feeling of futility when you're unable to sort through them to find a fix.  Force yourself to recognize lost opportunities for improvement.  Compare that to the benefits of a timely focus on correcting one problem at a time.

If you truly want to improve a guild member's performance or reach a better understanding with a colleague, act with alacrity. Decide which problem if solved would achieve the greatest gains and take steps to maximize those potential gains by addressing the problem now. Improvements achieved in one key area often spill over into related areas.

 

4.  Criticize without comparison.

Think about it. What's to gain? You may attempt to justify making comparisons by calling it "instilling a sense of competition," but you're kidding yourself if you believe your own rationalizations. Broad, unfavorable comparisons between “this sorry raid member” and that “exemplary raid member” or “this raid member is ready, why aren’t you” is more a comment about your leadership than your guild's performance.  Individuals told they don't measure up end up finding fault with you rather than dealing with the ambiguous criticism levied at them.

A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.

 

5.  Criticize with specificity, not labels.

Here are three kinds of specificity:

1.  Behaviors:

2.      Absence of behaviors:

3.      Indicators of behaviors and/or non-behaviors:

Criticism or feedback that cites specific examples such as those listed above requires no interpretation of meaning.  A missed commitment is a missed commitment.  Poor attitude feedback concretely identifies problem areas.  These concrete descriptions focus on quantifiable problems and achievable improvements.

Non-specific criticism invites ugliness. It may take you a moment to appreciate that the following labels are non-specific; but realistically, the receiver can only guess what you mean by such criticism:

The use of labels amounts to an attack on the person. An attack calls for a defense "I am not careless!" "I am not unmotivated!" The giver and the receiver engage in a heated argument about whether the receiver is careless or unmotivated without pinpointing the actual problem behavior and ways to improve it. Emotional pain without gain.

The subsequent articles in this series will cover:

Guidelines for Delivering Instructive Criticism

Remember the following:

·        Criticize in private.  Take only one point at a time, in a timely fashion (otherwise known as stated above “nip the problem in the bud.”

·        Criticize without comparison.

·        Instructive criticism gives guild leaders and officers a platform for criticizing guild members without arousing the confounding emotions of fear and anger.  The more positively you deliver the criticism, the more likely you are to get results.

·        You can keep on getting those results, not by tanking a sigh of relief, but by making sure you reinforce them.

One Reason to Criticize

Many guild members avoid giving criticism for fear of harming the relationship, until one day the proverbial straw becomes one too many. A mélange of emotion takes over:  anger, frustration, disappointment, hurt, fear and; in this state of low IQ and high volume, we spew our current and saved-up criticisms.

I am going to be talking about how we should handle relationships with team members by remembering that there is only one reason to criticize and that being:  to motivate that team member to change behavior. How do you do that? Not by beating on them, yelling at them, making them feel bad or giving them a reason to hold resentment towards you. You do it by taking deliberate, considered action. I hope that the guidelines below may help.

Need to Know and Need Not to Know

Human beings (including you) often do the wrong thing because they lack awareness or information. Consider that some people may not know that eating their lunch during a conference call is obnoxious to others. Or that they talk "too much" during raids. Or that they have a "negative attitude." Because their behaviors seem so obvious, we conclude that they must know and don't care. The truth is there's simply information they need to know. And likewise, there's information they need not to know . . .

Destructive Criticism

"It was pretty embarrassing to me to have one of the raid members burping into their microphone, during a raid when we had initiates present. I felt it was very uncouth."

However real, you feel your embarrassment; the receiver has a need not to know about it. Why you ask? Because, in reality, it diverts from your goal of improved performance to attention on emotions and away from discussion about the problem behavior. Remember, you want a commitment to change, that's all. So, bite your tongue. Refrain from punishing or yelling at the individual.  Instead try sending them a /pm stating your feelings, but in a polite way.

When people have information about their unwanted behaviors they often sufficiently punish themselves. They start talking to themselves about how stupid or thoughtless their behavior was and they don't need you to say things that further fuel their emotions.

Instructive Criticism

"In the future will you please not belch into your microphone? The sounds were distracting and gross to me."

Here, you've asked for what you want and given a brief rationale. This leaves the receiver free to focus on what you've said instead of on emotions. You've left the receiver emotionally intact and yet given enough information for him/her to comply.

Destructive Criticism

"Stop making noises in vent, you rude ass.  Whoever fucking does it again is getting kicked from the raid.  It’s very inconsiderate of you and you are interrupting the raid.  Now stop it or else!"

The receiver needs not to know that you think he/she's an inconsiderate rude ass. These remarks amount to a retaliatory attack and cause hurt feelings. Is that what you want? Does it help you achieve your goal of gaining commitment and loyalty? No!  All this does is threatens and shows that you like to let everyone know that you are powerful and controlling.

Instructive Criticism

"You truly need to arrive on time for raids. When you're late I can only fill your spot or proceed without you, which means you may miss getting information on specific encounters or that I must repeat what I've already said, which essentially punishes other raid members by impeding on their time.  I really don't like either option."

Here you've clearly stated the change you want and factually stated the reason why.

Ask for What You Want

Although this seems like a simple rule, it's not. Asking for what you want requires that you first know what you want. What you don't want is clear; it's in your face and easily describable and even quantifiable.

Few things are more difficult than knowing what you do want; describing it and asking for it are even harder. You'll need to noodle through it, though, because mind reading doesn't work.

Beware of the natural tendency to communicate what you already know, i.e., what you don't want.

Destructive Criticism

"That's not what I asked for."

"That's not right. You didn't listen."

"No, no, no. That's not what I said."

"That’s not right either. How many times are you going to screw up?"

These "not" comments do double injury: they hurt and they don't help. They are analogous to emphatically telling someone which road not to take. Even highly motivated people cannot glean from these remarks what, exactly, to do differently in the future.

Now, I've suggested what not to do. Do you know what to do instead? You could guess. But why not make it easy? On to instructive criticisms.

Instructive Criticism

"It appears that I wasn't clear about our raid expectations. I need you to arrive to raids on time and ready to raid.  You should always have your armor fully repaired and have any pots, bandages, extra armor sets or other items ready so that the raid does not need to wait on any one member.  Doing this also allows us to maintain our raid timeframes, so that we do not have to raid on off-nights and play catch up. Do you now understand why it is important to be ready?  How does this fit in with your priorities?"

Rather than trying to reconstruct the earlier conversation, you simply took responsibility and reiterated or clarified your instructions. You set the context for why this action needs to happen on time. You checked to make sure the receiver could realistically commit to the task.

"It looks like we weren't on the same page. I can see how you might have interpreted my instructions as you did. What I meant was . . . In the future please ask any of the officers or myself questions if our instructions seem at all unclear."

Notice the absence of blaming and finger- pointing. The emphasis is on problem solving and future gains.

Build on What's Right

Start with what's right. I consider this good politics.

Destructive Criticism

"I don't agree."

"That won't work."

"That's been tried before."

"No one will accept that."

Ideas don't always spring forth fully conceptualized. Totally rejecting others' ideas and work shows a lack of conceptual flexibility and creativity.

Instructive Criticism

"I think you're on the right track for getting the armor you needed."

"You're taking us in the right direction. We do need to know more about the guild goals though."

"Yes. You're right; we need to blaze new trails. I agree that we can't do it the same as was tried before."

So you didn't like the whole thing, you liked parts of it. Build on what you like. Nail down those good behaviors and on-the-right-track thinking.

Encourage Dialog with the Receiver

Telling is not the same thing as communicating. Your role is to clearly communicate your expectations. This requires that you explain what you want, how you want it, and when, specifically, you want it. Then you need to ask for the receiver's understanding of your expectations.

Destructive Criticism

"How many times have we told you and you still screw up?"

This remark is, ahem, very telling. If you're still not getting what you want, maybe you're not communicating what you want. Maybe the person lacks the understanding of your expectations and cannot absorb meaningless details. Maybe the receiver needs more than instructions, e.g., demonstration or examples.

The following remarks show the absence of instructions and I give them here to alert you to the potential problems of such off-handed assignments.

"I'm busy right now and can't spend any more time on this with you. I think you've got the general idea, though."

"What I want you to do is similar to what you've been doing. I think you'll get a feel for it as you go along."

These remarks leave the receiver in a position to do little more than guess. Often they guess wrong. Wrong guesses lead to failure and finger -pointing.

Instructive Criticism

"Let's go over this together to make sure we understand each other's expectations and issues."

"Do you know why we use this strategy? Maybe it would help if I set the context so that you have a way of thinking about how this fits in and how it's supposed to materialize. This will make it easier for you to understand your part, in the future."

"I need to hear from you what went wrong and what you think needs to happen to keep it from going wrong again."

"I think the situation calls for a good dose of mentoring. I'm going to have “another team member” walk you through it a couple of times. I think you'll be quite capable of doing it on your own very soon."

"Tell me, where was the breakdown? What obstacles did you encounter? Was there something you needed to know and didn't feel comfortable to ask? Did you need help and didn't realize it?"

"Let's talk about how to think about this. I'd like to understand your point perspective, why don't we start there."

These remarks clearly communicate your values and place value on the receiver's knowledge.

Notice how instructive criticism respects and engages the other person and gives them a greater sense of knowing how they are important to the guild/raid and, with it, ownership.

 

Well believe it or not that’s it.  As if it wasn’t enough? J

I hope someone gets something out of this for I assure you if you use the above techniques you will definitely see improvement in your leadership and/or following.

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