Posts Tagged ‘Officers



28
Aug
09

Inclusion, Ownership, and the word “WE”

Building a team and the overabundance of the word “WE”

As I was sitting at work, procrastinating the pile of things to do on my desk, I was reading over all of my main staples when it comes to killing time, MainTankadin, my rss feed on every blog I follow, my guilds website, etc and I was inspired to write another article that deviates a bit from the specifics of being a protection paladin. I am going to try to tie this in to being a tank and something that is essential to a successful tanking core, but it can be used in any situation with any class or spec. This is because it is about managing the person behind the computer, not the role that they play.

A while back, I received one of the best pieces of advice for being an effective member of a team and I have applied this technique ever since. The piece of advice had to do with the concept of using the word WE as much as possible, as in we did a great job, we can do this, we really need to work on our positioning, etc.

Over the course of my career (my real life career) I was viewed as being cocky and a bit overbearing when it came to my communication skills. I was working hard and long hours and I was accomplishing quite a bit more than was expected out of someone at my level in the company, however as you can see above, my perception was that all of this work was solely my own. When the concept of WE was brought to my attention, it opened up a whole new perception of what it takes to get a job done.

Why should I use “WE”?

When you are talking to your raid, or your guild, or anyone in any situation, using the word we immediately creates a sense of group ownership and team. This is very important in WoW because of the fact that you do almost everything as a guild. This is not to say that if you have the Loremaster title, or something of that nature that it wasn’t an individual achievement, but when it comes to raids and gear and progression, there is absolutely NO doubt that it took a group of people to accomplish.

The concept of inclusion is very important when you are communicating in WoW. Depending on your guild demographic, you could be talking to a bunch of teenagers or a bunch of people in their 30s-50s. No matter what age you are, you will always perform at a higher level when you feel that you have a sense of ownership. This concept is universal. By including your guild mates in the success of your accomplishments, it makes them feel that they were essential to the end result.

This feeling truly enhances a persons focus, determination, and willingness to bend over backwards for you. If you are able to foster a sense of ownership and teamwork within your guild, you will have loyal devoted guild mates that will look up to you as a leader, regardless of your title. There are some people in life who are just natural leaders, who command respect, and who get things accomplished. This is a key to their ability to do these things, inclusion.

When should I use “WE”?

When this concept was first introduced to me, I was asked to pull up an email that I had send out to a bunch of people at work regarding a project I was part of. I was then told to read it, remember the tone of the email. Then, I replaced every single “I” with a “WE.” After doing this, I read the email again and it was like I was reading a whole new communication.

With that being said, the answer to when should you use WE, is every chance you can get. Both for positive encouragement, and constructive criticism. Try it out this week and see how it sounds. Even if your guild mates are not completely sold on the first day, you will see a natural progression in the attitude of the guild and the ability to progress during tougher times. People will band together instead of looking to play the blame game. This is essential to the success and longevity of your guild.

What does this have to do with tanks?

The role of a tank, and more specifically a Main Tank, is a very stressful and difficult job. Even when you master your character, understand your ideal rotations, and learn everything there is to know about an encounter so that you can use your skills in a proactive manner to prevent damage, you still are the focal point of the raid. The boss is hitting you and you are responsible for the positioning, threat, and overall survival of the raid.

Tanks in general have a larger perceived responsibility when it comes to raiding. We are the focal point of the raid, and there is an innate increase in pressure that comes with that. When you are talking to your tanks, whether it is privately in whisper or tank channel or you are communicating to them in vent, the concept of inclusion makes this perceived responsibility melt away so that they can continue to focus on the task at hand, personal survival and threat.

Most tanking cores are a very tight knit group of people and they are more than likely a bit overconfident (it comes with the territory of pacing, and tanking). The positive encouragement that can come from a sense of ownership is very powerful. So next time when you are talking to your guild or raid, be very mindful of your choice of words. The difference between WE and I is the difference between ownership of the task at hand and just another job.

The simple benefits of a sense of Ownership

All of the effort that you can put into changing the way you talk to your guild mates is to foster an environment of ownership. This concept is very important when it comes to motivation, performance, and sustainability. The more that a member of your guild feels that they are personally responsible for the success of a trash pull, boss fight, progression with in an instance or overall atmosphere that the guild has, the harder they will work to ensure that your goals get accomplished. Developing relationships and successful team cohesion is very difficult to do by yourself, by creating an atmosphere of ownership, people will accomplish this end result on their own.

If each member of your team feels that they are contributing to your overall success, then they will innately contribute substantially more than if they are just an individual. So what about those people who are just terrible at their class, spec, etc? Well there is one more thing that this sense of ownership will help you with.

No matter who you are, and what your skills set is, each individual has the ability to contribute something unique and powerful to a team. The fact that everyone is different means that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. The person that you see as weak, more than likely has a strength that you may not have. They may be able to help you achieve your end goals. This is where inclusion and ownership shine.

So remember, next time you talk to your guild, try using WE instead of I, and you will appreciate the new found sense of teamwork that results from a simple change in words.

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25
Aug
09

Managing your Numbers – How to ensure your raid is full

After a nice long weekend of birthday celebrations, I am back at work and back on Avenging Wrathy. As I stepped away from my computer for the weekend and did not log on to talk to my guildies, I was quite out of the loop when it came to our problem of the month, attendance. As the days grow shorter, and excuses approach, each guild is faced with the same problems: lack of people. This is only compounded by blizzards newest and greatest instance, the Trial of the Crusade! As much as I would like to blame the kids going back to school as the excuse for our recent abysmal turn out, I truly believe that there are more sinister demons in our closet so to speak.

The advent of the totally worthless instance is upon us. Throughout all of the first two instances of this expansion pack, I was in the top three on wow-heroes.com for most geared tank on our server. However, now with the fact that you can purchase end game gear with badges that you can get from heroic dailies, everyone and their mother is in amazing gear, yet their skill levels have not increased at all. The surplus of guilds that can clear all of the content available to them is skyrocketing and the gear is falling from the heavens, yet so many guilds are struggling to fill raid spots in 25 man raids. So, how do you as a guild recruit people and at the same time weed out the baddies from the people that will ultimately make up part of your core team. I have a few theories on why we are in this current situation and what you can do to stop the hemorrhaging.

The difficulty level of Trial of the Crusader

As I do appreciate the fact that the difficulty level of trial of the crusader has allowed so many more guilds to experience end game raiding, it has also truly homogenized the guilds of our server, and more than likely your server as well. We now have 12 horde guilds that have killed hard modes in Ulduar on our server. That is a significant amount of talent that is distributed very evenly across a lot of guilds. The fact that you can pug the end game server right now makes it so that someone who thought they may have a chance at end game in a progression guild can stay contently where they are and earn free loot with their friends. As the loot begins to fall from the heavens with item level 245 stamped all over it, guilds gear levels are getting higher and the difficulty of the Hard Mode achievements in Ulduar is diminishing as the weeks pass.

So how do you deal with a guild that is losing its players to real life, other guilds, “casualitis”, and plain boredom from ToTC?

There are a few things that you have to keep in the back of your mind if you are an officer or raider in a guild that is suffering through a numbers drought. First, this is the natural progression of guilds, people come and people go, and it is your duty to keep the guild together by filling the gaps that have been left by the departed. How you fill those gaps is completely up to you, but there are some ways that are more effective than others. Moreover, you have to remember that, if we are lucky, in two weeks all of these problems will be solved by a nice fat brick wall called Hard Mode Northrend Beasts. Nothing stops the general homogenization of server talent like a big fat raid boss stomping your ass into the ground. At this point the cream will rise to the top and you can look for those people that no longer have a home to bolster your ranks.

With that being said, you should be prepared to face that brick wall head on and understand what it is that you have to offer to the players of your server that is unique and appealing. From my guilds perspective, the officers have focused on one thing that separates us from the rest of the guilds that are waiting for a challenge, the race back to server firsts, and the elite ranks: our schedule. Our leadership is well aware that we have a unique service that we can provide to the masses of our server, and the lucky ones that would like to share in our success will come forward and apply when they are tired of wiping. We offer the same progression as every other guild on our server save one, in half the time. We raid 2 nights a week and clear the same amount of content.

That is our pitch, our slogan, our appeal. What is yours?

Once you have that unique identity that you can offer, and understand what your demographic is for prospective applicants, you still have to understand that it is no longer just as easy as looking at someone’s gear and achievements and knowing that they are a good player. You need to be more cautious when it comes to recruitment and guild invites. Our guild has a few policies in place that weed out the initial round of poor players. We require a guild sponsor, someone that is a current raider in our guild to recommend the recruit and vouch for their competence and ability to adapt to our system of play. Secondly, we have a 1 month trial period where each individual recruit is tested in the progression raid environment to see what they can contribute to our guild. The combination of the guild vouch and the trial period serve as a very significant filter to keep the caliber of player in our guild at the level we are accustomed to. What about the people that don’t make the cut? well that is what the gkick function is for.

How do you get those people to come to you?

This is another difficult decision that your guild has to make. Do you want to advertise on the over trolled and under utilized world of warcraft server forums, spam trade chat, go to specific sites such as maintankadin and post, or do you have more subtle tactics. Our guilds recruitment is strictly by word of mouth and raider referrals. If we have issues with filling a certain class, we tell our raiders to look out for a player that fits the role of what we are looking for during their day to day playing. We don’t recommend poaching by any means, and we do not actively participate in trying to take people away from competing guilds, however if we can offer them a step up in the raiding experience and they are willing, we give them the chance to prove to us that they can hang.

In the end, people come and people go, but you have to actively work to keep your guild full and successful if you want to enjoy the content that is considered end game. Understanding what makes your guild unique is the most important first step in getting those people that you need to fill spots. Remember that every guild is full of fun loving, chill atmospheres where “we plow through content and dont stress about it.” you have to find that thing that ONLY your guild has to offer, and market it to your advantage.

14
Aug
09

Guild Management and Its Impact on Longevity

Preface – The restructuring of an Elite Guild

In the past week, the best guild on our server lost a significant chunk of their main raiders. The guild has been around since launch on the same server, and has captured 90 percent of the server firsts that actually matter. They have, for the horde side, always been the guild that can get almost anyone they want with the correct amount of persuasion. At the same time, the demands of a top 50 guild are a bit different. Skill is obviously something that one should have prior to applying to their guild, however the time commitment is the true demand and the difference between great wow players and hard core raiders.

What happened to cause such a exodus of a very stable and successful guild? From the outside looking in, my perception was that they lost too much of their core management. A few Paladin Healers quit the game for good, leaving a vacancy to be filled. The fact that one of the paladins was their raid leader compounded the issue. Then, a few days ago, I noticed that both of their main tanks quit as well. Between the loss of their MTs and their raid leader, the hard core players that only cared about server firsts, what gear they got, and how fast they got it, jumped ship and went to one of the guilds competing for second place on the server.

Regardless of the true reasons for four key people to quit the game, the loss of that much “upper management” is a huge blow to a guild. As an officer in my guild, I ask myself what happened to them, and what can I do to prevent this from happening to us. One of the things that my guild has going for us is that we offer a unique perspective on end game raiding that no other guild on our server can. We clear in two nights what the other guilds on the server do in 4 to 5 nights. Our leadership, planning, and active management allows for this, not to mention the fact that we have some extremely skilled raiders.

Tank Management

This blog isn’t really about guild structure, management, and direction, if you wanted to read about that, you would have clicked on the /officerchat link to the right, instead of reading this. So why do I bring up this anecdote? I believe that the example of guild management and a strategy for raider retention is on a large scale a very important concept to understand. And, if applied properly to your core tanking team, will benefit you guild immensely in the long run. For those of you who are no longer tanks, please excuse the following hubris.

I am fairly certain that there are two main cores to any raiding guild with respect to performance and success. They are the healing core and the tanking core. My job as an officer and a Main Tank is to ensure the proper management of that tanking core so that everyone is playing at the highest level they possibly can. Tanks are a fickle and temperamental group of people in end game raiding guilds. They all think, and are probably right, that they carry the raids through progression. As a result the management of the group as a whole is essential to their opinion of the guild, the officers and the success of the raids. The most important thing to remember, especially if you still think you are back in Vanilla WoW, is that there is no main tank.

THERE IS NO MAIN TANK…

This is a novel concept that, if implemented and embraced to the fullest, will make your tanking core a powerful force. Each tank has their strengths and their weaknesses, and you have to leverage them at all times. This means that you need to comprehend what each tanks abilities do, what make them unique, and what make them a powerful asset. This does not just mean you know what icebound fortitude does either, you have to understand what the person behind the computer is great at, and leverage that to its fullest.

Our guild has four tanks that are geared to the teeth. As of two weeks ago, we were all in the top 10 best geared tanks on the server, and our server has 20 plus guilds that farm Ulduar every week. At any given time, we run with a Warrior, a Death knight, and/or a Paladin, and none of us are “THE” main tank, we all are MTs. The concept of compromise and delegation is something that, if embraced, will keep all of your MTs happy and content that they are the focal point of an encounter and the pivotal factor on a clean kill or a wipe.

Understanding the mechanics of fights and incorporating the strengths of each of your tanks in each fight will ensure that each tank feels that they are doing the best job possible. This is once again a battle of opportunity cost when it comes to managing your tanks. Even though a paladin may be the best at something in an encounter, he or she may not be the best choice for the job. You have to understand who is the “least worse” for any given role and give them that assignment. What do I mean by that, well if you have both a deathkinght and a paladin tank that are good at tanking XT, which one of them is the better choice for the adds? Is it easier for a paladin to mitigate all of the add damage, or a dk? This is a simplified example to a difficult problem, but it gives you an idea of how to manage people.

Tank Rotations, Confidence, and Retention of Knowledge

Furthermore, we never really have a “Go-To” tank for hard mode bosses. Sure there are some bosses that are perfect for DKs, and some where paladins shine, you have to ensure that your tanks take turns, so that they feel that they are an essential part of the raid, and not just a trash tanking minion. This rotation benefits the raid as a whole in the long run more than you would think. In my experiences tanking in Pre-BC, I was the first off tank for a guild. Our main tank was always there and always tanked all of the “tank and spank” bosses. One day his work schedule changed and I was standing face to face with Nefarian.

Sure, I had been a tank for a long time, nef was past farm status, and I had all the necessary gear from the instance, however I lacked the confidence. As a result, the encounter was much harder than it should have been. If you build the confidence in each of your tanks equally, you never have to rely on one or even two people to carry the burden of main tanking. This philosophy sets you up for success as well as very smooth transitions when one of your tanks is not present for raids. If all of this is embraced and practiced on a weekly basis you can prevent the larger exodus from the departure of a keystone of your raid.

In the end, your goal as a manager in your guild is to ensure the success and progression of that guild. By ensuring that the collective knowledge of the tanks is not lost due to a departure, you must equally share all of the experiences so that if one part of the core leaves, another can fill the gap and learn from the veteran tanks. This will be one of the keys to consistent and successful progression.

12
Aug
09

Trial of The Crusade Loot

Last night my guild did as we always do on a Tuesday night at 6pm, open up invites, select our 25 man raid, and head off to our progression instance. Now to say that Trial of the Crusade is progression is only to indicate that there was a boss that we had never killed before in there, however the difficulty level of Lord Jaraxxus was just as disappointing as the Northrend Beasts. One shotting new content isn’t really what I signed up for Blizzard!

On a different note, as tanking officer I was faced with a difficult dilemma in gear distribution last night. The Trophy of the Crusade gives us our Tier 9 (item level 245) gear, and deciding who gets the token has become a bit of a puzzle. Our guild has always and will always gear main tanks first. I have never really had more than 1000 dkp, and am usually in the negative for most of the time, however I am fourth overall on earned. Everyone above me and a few below have 3000 plus dkp.

For the first time in our guilds history the tanks were not given priority on tier pieces, and not because we dont think they deserve them or that they are worthy upgrades, because they are, but because both MTs took some time off this past week for personal reasons and are behind in gathering the necessary 45 and 75 Badges of Triumph needed to purchase these items. Most of our raiders have been doing the heroic daily every day to get as many badges as possible.

I also have to make the decision now of looking over the sweet ring and nice avoidance libram for a tier 9 piece. What has a better opportunity cost, the T9 upgrade in shoulders, to get rid of the SBV / SBR T8 ones I have on currently, or the ring?

I personally don’t care much for the new system of badges and tokens = gear. The lack of availability in conjunction with the increased number of items that are bought with them makes gearing for progression difficult. Part of me just wants to wait for the hard mode in three weeks, but part of me knows I need to farm the daily heroic as much as possible so that i can at least get a few more pieces of iLevel 245 gear before we walk into the heroic instance.

Speaking of item level 245 gear, I picked up some sweet loot last night on both the Northrend Beasts and Lord Jaraxxus!

Forlorn Barrier and Dawnbreaker Sabatons


The difficult part of picking up these pieces is how they fit into my sets. As I have learned in the past, side-grades are more often than not upgrades for another set, in this case EH. I also lost a Dragon’s Eye gem by replacing my crafted boots. My plan is to pick up the T9 shoulders next week and socket them with a 51 stam gem, but until then, do I run with only two DE’s, or do I waste a Dragon’s Eye gem for the second half of Ulduar?




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