Guild Chat: Solving more officer conflicts in MMO guilds

Welcome along to another loaded edition of Guild Chat, the place where guildies in need of some solid advice can pose a query and have it answered both in the column and its comments. This time around, I’ll be extending on a previous submission as well as tackling a new one, so I recommend getting comfortable! You will remember our last edition looked at stranded-admin’s recent blowout with a fellow officer in her guild and the general consensus was that leaving the guild would be the best way forward since there was a pool of talented players who had also recently left that could potentially be reforged into a new, more fitting guild. Stranded-admin has sent in an update to her situation since that clarifies how her chosen MMO operates, making it clear that contact with those she’ll be leaving behind and also those who have already left will be non-existant due to the game’s grouping mechanics. I wanted to add a little bit more advice for stranded-admin based on the update.

I’ll also be helping out Cloudine, a reader who saw stranded-admin’s submission and wanted to get similar help with his guild’s officer situation. In Cloudine’s case, his officers have no distinct roles, and the lack of clear boundaries is causing friction as some stronger personalities overstep the boundaries of their role. See both stranded-admin’s update and Cloudine’s submission below, and don’t forget to add your thoughts in the comments.

For the commenter who was curious, I play a mobile game called KHUx (Kingdom Hearts Unchained chi). Overall it’s a casual game with simple gameplay mechanics, but there’s a subset of very dedicated, very hardcore players. The structure of the game LITERALLY makes it impossible to play with people who aren’t in your guild; you can only raid and play together with people in your own party and can’t interact elsewhere in the game.

I had set out feelers before you replied to see if anyone would be interested in a new party, but people were not interested in moving for a variety of understandable reasons. I’m still in the party for now, but at this point it just seems like a matter of time before I leave. I keep an eye out for parties that interest me and have a post putting myself out there drafted and ready to go for recruiting boards. I unfortunately have no way of contacting my friends who were kicked from the group, otherwise I may have started a new group.

My relationship with the officer I fought with is chilly but right now, civil. We’re at least communicating in our main chat again. Honestly, neither one of us has really wrapped things up, and I am going to have to be the bigger person and actually say something about it. I plan on finally doing it today after being incredibly busy the past week. This isn’t even the first time we fought: Our previous fight was kept completely between the two of us and resolved amicably. It’s been a bit of a fraught relationship from the start as my online persona is very open while his is extremely guarded, and my openness on our chat was a point of contention.

Overall though, your post (and the comments!) has made me think on our leader and our leadership structure, and it makes me want to bail sooner rather than later. Our leader was always hands-off and always very weak. Some decisions she has made in the past have been dramatic reactions to small slights. Reading your post and the comments I now realize that much of it has actually been horrendous and how unstructured it is even when it was running relatively smoothly. I actually enjoy being an officer a lot and find it rewarding. But now that our leader is back and I’m seeing how she runs things again after her absence, if I end up staying I don’t think my office in this party is worth salvaging and I’ll step down, despite all the work I put in and how much I love the people I play with. It just has too much potential to blow up into more drama which is the last thing I need as I finish my degree.

— stranded-admin

wow-1I must confess to knowing nothing about your MMO of choice, stranded-admin, having never played myself, but the way you describe the grouping mechanics has given me some food for thought. Limitations on who you can raid and play with can most definitely make people feel far less inclined to simply jump ship when guild drama brews, especially if you have no way to communicate with those who left before you. Having said that, I don’t believe that you should accept chronic guild mismanagement and a frosty atmosphere for the sake of not having to step out on your own to find a new home.

The fact that players make a clean break from each other upon leaving a guild will be both a blessing and a curse to you if and when you make the leap: Although you’ll be stepping out into the unknown without being able to keep playing with your current friends or those who have already left your guild, you’ll also be guaranteeing that any drama involving your leader and the hostile officer ends as soon as you leave. There’s something very refreshing about such a clean slate, even though it is a limiting factor as well.

I’m glad that you have since drafted an ad for the recruiting boards, and I would hope that your officer experience and openness would ensure you a spot in a wonderful new guild should you put yourself out there. I don’t recommend staying and taking a demotion in an attempt to avoid the drama, especially since you’ll then lose your authoritative voice to motion for improvement should you choose to stay. Your options as I see them are to either stay and put in a sizable amount of effort to stave off any more hostility while also holding the guild together, or jump ship to a home that better suits you and your current busy workload. I’m still urging you to leave for greener pastures, stranded-admin, and I wish you all the luck in the world!

secret-world

I need some Tina advice please! I read the last article and in it, you mentioned officer drama. In my guild, we have several officers but I haven’t really thought about what they actually do in terms of workload, job role etc. and need help defining this. My management style is casual, but I feel that not defining the officers’ roles is walking me down the same path as stranded’s leader where my officers will just argue all the time and fight for my approval. I don’t want to take sides and want them to cope themselves.

–Cloudine

You’re right to say that guild structure is important when it comes to avoiding issues such as stranded-admin’s, Cloudine, and I’d be only too happy to talk you through how to define your guild’s officers’ roles. Without knowing which MMO you play or what sort of content you like to play together, my advice is going to be quite generic, but creatively adapting it to your needs should be a relatively straightforward task.

The first and most important bit of advice I can offer you is that you need to define the purpose of your guild and record this somewhere in the form of a guild charter. This can be as short or as long as you like and can be recorded in any manner that suits you, but it will serve as an important signpost for new guild members while they learn the ropes in your ranks. Include a mission statement of sorts that outlines your goals for the guild, being as specific as you can be, and that should also help members work out what to do should they have a problem or query. I like to make a short FAQ of the most common things that are brought to my attention by guild members, and I also like to outline the process by which any complaints will be handled so that each case is treated fairly when it crops up.

gw2-4Once your guild has a clear purpose and process outlined, you can then build your officers and their unique skill sets into the framework and position them within your guild in ways that work with their talents. A laid back, chatty officer might make a fantastic newbie guide or recruiter, for example, or an organised, experienced player might be a fabulous choice to run some training runs in your chosen content. You should find that the opportunities for your officers to step on one another’s toes will be greatly diminished if you do this groundwork.

Even with defined roles for each officer, there will still inevitably be areas that are dealt with by several or perhaps all of your leaders together, so devising some quick strategies for making tough group decisions is crucial here. Knowing your officers and how each one communicates will present you with the best options to suit your set-up, but here are a few ideas to help you along. My default favourite way to conduct shared management tasks is to have an officer meeting with a pre-agreed agenda on whichever VOIP communication method we’re currently using. Agreeing on the agenda in advance gives the deep thinkers plenty of reflective time to start forming some conclusions without feeling rushed or pushed, and I find voice chat much more efficient for complicated communication due to the speed of delivery and easy recording options.

starwarsThe major downside of my default method, however, is that quieter, more passive officers might not feel comfortable accurately conveying what they’re thinking on any given subject, so I recommend accompanying the meeting with a secret ballot once all options have been presented to the officers. Ensuring everyone has a say is the critical factor here if you’re seeking to avoid officer conflict in the future: More often than not, officers fight because a leader hasn’t conducted managerial tasks correctly and one or more of the affected parties don’t feel heard in the group dynamics.

While you’re finding what works for you, be open to criticism and expect some teething problems, especially if you’ve been rather lax on the formalities so far. Many guild management styles can be pared down to suit the more casual guild, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that casual and organised are mutually exclusive words. Good luck with the guild, Cloudine!

Many thanks to both stranded-admin and Cloudine for their submissions! If you have some guild issues you would like help with , email me an outline of the situation for your chance to feature in the next edition of Guild Chat.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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