Changing and Growing as a Team

EDIT: Just as a clarification – our guild changes were really a group effort. In the comments I’m being given waaaay too much credit. In reality, I had very little to do with it all. I was a strong critic of the old ways and I suggested a few concrete ideas that might help us improve as a raid team, but the credit for implementing change should go to our raid leader. He’s the gifted one who listens to everyone’s input then makes good decisions that he stands by. And our team as a whole deserves credit for their active participation in all aspects of the process.

I left “my old guild” at a time where my raid schedule was very limited and I couldn’t really dedicate myself to a team. I was welcomed into a group of (casually raiding) friends who seemed cool with having me around and understood that I would move on once I could live in more raid-friendly timezone.

So that early January, I went from a 9/12 guild to a 0/12 guild.

Oh the culture shock!

There was no point in writing on the forums: no one visited them. There was no healer chat to goof around in. When we’d reach a new boss fight, only the raid leader knew anything about it. Pulls were slow and difficult to recover from. Random AFKs were normal. Raid start time meant “we’ll think about whether or not we want to raid and if you’re lucky, we’ll send invites out within the hour“. If the raid wasn’t cancelled that is.

The people were fun and I liked most of my guildies. It was a blissful break from the childishness and the vulgarity that my former guild chat had degenerated into. But the raids… The raids were painful. Skill or attitude weren’t an issue. These people were quite possibly the most patient individuals I’d ever come across on the internet. And as I would tell those who asked about my guild situation: “They play pretty well… on the rare occasion that they play.”

I don’t care about boss kills much. Me, I get pleasure from strategy discussions, from pushing myself to squeeze every ounce of juice out of my character and from working as a team. When I say I hate casual raiding, it’s not about the boss kills and it’s not about the rankings. It’s about being deprived of the game aspects that make me tick.

As I was getting ready to leave…something happened

I’m not sure exactly what triggered the idea to change. I knew at the time, but I can’t remember. I do remember those long chats with my raid leader about how we both needed a more focused environment. I also remember hoping that I could stay on Nerzhul.

Then one day my raid leader mentioned that a few other guildies were interested in upping our pace a bit.

Then a lot of things I don’t remember happened, which eventually let to a thread (started by our raid leader) called “In order to make a more efficient raid group“.

I wanted a project. I also really liked working with Team Sport’s raid leader. (Remember this post?) And I didn’t want to leave the server.

So I got on board.

Would they go for it? Could I hope?

I know what it’s like to drag a heavy bolder up a hill. It’s just like trying to get satisfied players to change their playstyle.

My biggest worry was our raid team enjoyed our current status. Of course, they always want more boss kills. But, to them, would those boss kills be worth the trouble? I like being extremely time-efficient, but would they?

We decided to actually play

I didn’t interpret them properly at the time, but the majority of the responses in our raid efficiency thread expressed annoyances with our late start times, our frequent signs-up-but-doesn’t-shows and our constant stalling due to random AFKs. I was delighted to discover that I wasn’t alone in feeling the way I did.

I pushed for communication

Maybe it’s a gender thing. Girls tend to like to communicate. I’m the only girl in the guild. I’m the one who whined and whined and whined and WHINED about our lack of communication.

They are lovely and humoured me. We got healing/dps/tank chat channels. Our raid leader now often hangs out after raids for those who want to talk about the night. And someone starts a debriefing thread on the forums after each raid.

The Challenges of a Democratic Guild

Alas‘ Effers made a big splash in the blogosphere with their democratic (and originally officerless) guild. And I think the Effers were the first to really talk about it.

I’m also in a democratic, officerless guild. A democratic, officerless guild that is several years old. We’re even sort of GM-less. It took me 6 months in the guild to find out that we had a GM. It went kind of like this:

Me: Why does that guy always get all weird about guild stuff.
Guildie: He started the guild.
Me: So he’s actually the GM?
Guildie: I guess you could say that.

There are ruins of past attempts at having officers: there are still some characters with a “team captain” rank and there’s an officer forum on our guild website (last post is from December, by someone who doesn’t have the “team captain” rank).

But all the raid organization and role leading is done by the 2 or 3 (depending on the day) guys who came up with the idea to fit a raid team into the guild. All “members” can see and type in /ochat. To become a member, you have to be voted in by at least 10 other “members”. (I do love the concept, however we don’t have 10 active “members” anymore, so it’s currently impossible for new recruits to become full members. I’m not a full member.) If someone wants to suggest and implement a new policy, a vote is called and all “members” vote on it.

In theory it’s awesome and I love it. In practice, implementing new ideas is a big hassle. This guild is several years old and, until recently, has experienced very little turnover. What happens when a democratic guild has been around for years is this: the group becomes set in its ways and status quo takes over. In other words, everyone becomes afraid of rocking the boat.

So we had a team who hadn’t seen much significant change in a few years. We had no one with any formal authority to say “this is what we’re going to do”. This wasn’t looking good.

The results, up ’til now

Our “raid team improvement” thread was about 3 or 4 weeks ago. Since then, we’ve down 2 new bosses (4 if you count Neferian and Cho’Gall, which aren’t much of a challenge on normal mode anymore), which is probably where we would have been anyway.

But…

- We’ve started every single raid on time (with the exception of a few delays due to having to pug a few raiders).
– We’ve received a surprising number of applications (including an AWESOME application written by a dear commenter on this very blog!).
-It’s been two weeks since we’ve had to pug. We even had to sit someone for the first time due to too many dps online at once.
– We’ve shaved a lot of time off our trash pulls (I know because I time our trash).
– I don’t feel the need to alt tab out between wipes on progression bosses anymore.
– People who randomly AFK are being chastised by their fellow players.
– Role-teams are communicating more.
– A larger number of team members are participating in strat discussions and post-raid debriefings.
– Some people actually read the forums.
– Guildies have been going out of their way to gear up outside of raids and, even better, helping each other gear up outside of raids.

I can’t begin to express how I excited I am and how proud I am of my guildies for all their hard work.

I know that the changes might just be temporary. The pace is new to us, so we’re learning and can’t joke around as much as we used. We might give up before we get used to this pace. Or we might just decide this style of raiding was fun for a little while, but not longer. Or, as my track record predicts, I might have a falling out with our raid leaders and have to go my own way.

I can, however, accept that nothing lasts forever and, like in anything I do, I’m enjoying the moment.

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31 Comments on “Changing and Growing as a Team”

  1. Valithria Says:

    Oh, Ophelie, thank you, thank you, thank you! I was reading this just this morning and your comment made my day! Really! I’m very much enjoying your guild, and can’t wait to raid (when I get the necessary item level and you need me, of course. I’m not pushy for a raid spot). I did spend a bit of time on my application, but after posting it noticed so many others that were just THAT much better than mine and thought that my chances of getting into your guild were slim, especially considering my level at the time. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case, and things are looking bright!

    • Ophelie Says:

      Oh don’t be silly. Your application blew all other apps out of the water and you know it! (Thespius was even saying the other night that it was one of the best apps he’d ever read)

      Team Sport is a social guild that happens to have a raid team. Not all raiders are members and not all members are raiders. So your level at the time didn’t matter at all.

      I’m looking forward to raiding with you and I know you’ll be a great addition to the team!

  2. Oestrus Says:

    Ha! Only you would think of recording the time it takes you to get through trash. This made my morning.
    <3

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hahaha it never even occurred to me that timing trash could be weird.

      I don’t know how much of a difference it made, but they seemed pretty happen when the first time I pointed out that we’d improved by 10 minutes. I thought it seemed like a concrete way for everyone to see how much time we’re wasting or saving.

  3. Eccentrica Says:

    Improving and progressing as a group, when you enjoy each other’s company and have fun together is really the best feeling isn’t it?

    Happy Raiding.

  4. saif Says:

    Reminds me a lot of our guild last year. We basically had to dissolve, reform back in March I think, with a few people who actually wanted to raid, and go from there. We’ve managed to be in the top 10 progression alliance guilds just about the whole time since though now competition is getting stiff!

    Just reading your post made me excited. I love that early phase of getting a team together and watching them get excited and pull together to kill bosses – the energy is infectious! There are hints of it every time a new raid drops and hints of it every time you pull a new boss for the first time, but nothing like doing what you’re talking about – changing the raid culture and seeing people bloom.

    • Ophelie Says:

      It’s funny how my perception has changed over time. At first, I was the one eagerly encouraging our raid leader that we, the team, can do it. Apparently changing had been attempted unsuccessfully in the past.

      Then I got discouraged and he was the one pointing out how it could work.

      Then it all starting coming together and the raids have become much more enjoyable. I’m still more suspicious than excited, but I am really happy to see how well things are going and how fast the change was.

  5. Vidyala Says:

    I love this! I was just wondering how you were doing the other day. Glad to hear an update on how things are going (and especially, to hear that they are going well!) :D

  6. Windsoar Says:

    Sometimes you just need the new kid to shake something up :) It’s great that you were able to allow other members to make their own, if not grievances, at least disgruntlement known! I’m glad things are running smoother and that you’re enjoying your time with the new team.

    • Ophelie Says:

      hehehe, thanks! I don’t deserve the credit there, Thespius was the one who did all the grunt work. I just complained a lot and tried to suggest concrete ideas that could be implemented ^_^

  7. Blackeclipse Says:

    I just had to post my first reply here even though I have been following your blog for awhile now because I know exactly what you are going through with a casual guild in trying to get them to become a bit more focused when it comes to raiding.

    My main (pally tank) is currently in a more progression orientated guild, although I have the majority of my alts in my first casual guild. I just could not bring myself to leave it entirely because of the friends that I had made there. So I fill in with my priest alt if they ever need a healer to help them out.

    The more progressed 10 man raiding group in the guild went through the same issues that yours has and every now and then reverts back to their old habits. One example is on clearing trash in Firelands. Sometimes in order to speed up the trash pulls, I will start pulling them if I feel that the group isn’t moving fast enough and hope the tanks pick them up. This as a holy priest! I always get a laugh whenever the pally healers says in vent “Uh oh, there goes that damn priest running and pulling again”.

  8. redcow Says:

    Kudos on jumping onboard with the changes. Late or uncertain start times are probably my biggest pet peeve – 30 minutes after raid start, if we aren’t in the raid, I have probably already decided to wander off and pick flowers or something. Being picked up late for a thrown-together raid is quite annoying.

    I’m really glad to hear about your success so far! Hopefully the changes will soon become the norm and you’ll be rolling over new bosses left and right :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      I hate lateness too. I’ve been in a fury fairly often over that. I also get mad over random AFKs, people who show up late and people who sign up and don’t show. I only get a few hours a week to play WoW and I want to spend those hours actually playing.

      We had a setback on Tuesday where we ended up starting a half hour late, but for the most part, it’s been much, much better.


  9. This reminds me so much of my raid team. SO MUCH. And it’s been a cyclic process for us that repeats once every tier. People get lazy. People get busy. Things slow down. People get frustrated. People get proactive. A thread goes up about improving the raid. We tighten up and fly right and finish the Tier.

    Then a new tier comes around and inevitably there are one or two people who, for whatever reason, shuffle. Someone quits the game and is replaced; someone decides they hate their and simply MUST play their from now on. And people get lazy. People get busy. Things slow down. People get frustrated. People get proactive. A thread goes up about how we need to fly right. The raid tightens up and moves right.

    It’s an interesting process, and really… your solution is the only one that works. Either someone(s) steps up, whips the whole group into shape, and makes the raid work; or the raid dies, dissolves, losing the 3-5 people who were always dedicated enough to make it happen.

    Good luck. I hope you and your team are able to stick with the changes and make progress keep happening. It’s got a way of feeding itself, so enjoy the rising enthusiasm of the group as you work your way forward. :)

    • Ophelie Says:

      The cyclic thing is what I’m worried about. I know that we’ll have roster and recruitment problems in the future and I’m ok with that, but I’m afraid that we’ll lose the momentum we’ve been starting to build.

      I’ve got my fingers crossed that we won’t.

  10. Edenvale Says:

    I laughed out lough when I read this, I checked what server you were on to make sure you weren’t talking about my guild.

    Trying to get an extremely casual guild to raid can be just like nailing jello to a wall.
    Good job showing them the light…and how to swing it.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hehehe, I don’t deserve credit for that. It was a group effort. Nothing could have changed had the majority of our team not been so motivated.

      I love the image you used there! It fits soo well.

  11. Stubborn Says:

    Dear Ophilie,
    What you’ve accomplished is like a dream. You’ve helped reshape a guild from an amorphous, unmotivated mass of friends (which is fine, but was what it was) into a team of people working towards common goals, communicating, and having standards. It’s like nation building, but on a much smaller scale.

    I’m somewhat envious of you, but no one can say you lucked out in being in a “good guild.” You’ve gone through the hard work of making change, stuck out the slow period, and pushed to improve. Plenty of people stick out grinding bosses, but you stuck out grinding friends (that terminology doesn’t work well, but I think you know what I mean).

    Congratulations, Pally, you’ve done the light’s work.

    Sincerely,
    Stubborn

    • Ophelie Says:

      Aww, I think you give me too much credit.

      I *was* lucky to find myself among friends who liked working together and who are good at working together. I don’t think I played an overly large part in it. I complained a lot and made a few suggestions of concrete actions we could do, but the actual implementation, that’s all our raid leader and the raiders who wanted more out of their raids.

      …I’m really glad my raid leader doesn’t read my blog. I think he’d be creeped out by how much I talk about him.

  12. Jamin Says:

    Really entertaining, and informative post!

    Mean, I just feel you on the majority of points you make. Especially the one about guild members being stuck in their old ways.

    I am looking to do a similar strategy with my current guild too. However, I feel our main “hold back” is the confidence our members have in themselves.

    – Jamin

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hmm, by being held back by confidence, do you mean that your guildies think they don’t have the skill to play better?

      If the confidence is the main issue, you’ve got stuff you can work with! As long as your guildies are motivated, you can do a lot.

      Our confidence booster was going back to BWL and BoT over two nights and ROCKING the place. The fights have been tuned so that they’re fairly easy to beat but that you still need to focus on what you’re doing. It’s fantastic for morale.

      It helps when you point out what the team is doing right (example: everyone showing up on time, getting faster at trash, etc.) and celebrate your victories.

      Another trick is, when things go bad, to point out the WHY they went bad. If your guildies attribute every screw up with “we just don’t have what it takes”, they’ll get discouraged fast. If you’re able to point out that “we couldn’t get boss X down because we weren’t communicating enough. Let’s have person Y say z….”, they’ll see that the problem *is* fixable.

      Anyway, best of your luck to you and your raid team!

  13. Gladiola Says:

    I really enojyed reading this, guild relations tend to intrigue me, whether they be good or bad.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Thanks!

      I love reading about guild relations too. The posts in my RSS feed that catch my attention are always the ones about guilds and raid teams. I call it internet-anthropology (perhaps cyberanthropology would be a more appropriate term, but it doesn’t sound right) .

  14. Jasyla Says:

    Nice job turning things around. I don’t think I would have had the patience to do something like that.

    Good luck with raiding, I hope it continues to go well and keeps improving ( and tell them to promote you to member!)

    • Ophelie Says:

      It happened surprisingly fast. I probably would have gotten discouraged early, but our raid leader is good cheerleader. I also didn’t have to do too much. I whined a lot and made some suggestions, and the rest of the team took it from there.

      Thank you! I hope it keeps up as well!

      I have been considering applying for membership (after all, it’s weird to be committed to a guild I’m not really a member of), so the guild is going to meet and decide what to do with the membership process given our current situation.


  15. [...] blog, much less reads it regularly, save two or three dear souls. Ophelie of The Bossy Pally put up a great post this week that touched lightly on some guild relations of her own, and was very open about her [...]

  16. dragonray Says:

    You have inspired me to attempt a similar thing in my current guild – I can’t guarantee the wonderful success you are having now!!! But I wanted you to know that you have once again inspired someone into action with your excellent posts!!

    Here’s to you guys killing more bosses every week!


  17. Getting a group that logs on on time, and doesn’t dawdle between wipes is half the work towards reforming wayward raiders.


  18. Just as I start to drag my heels and feel a bit of a wane in the love for my guild / progress, this is a lovely nudge back to positivity. Dusted off a couple of un(der)used 85s and been healing my little tauren bum off in lots of retro content to get the love back.

    Thanks for the motivation!


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