Raiding 101: Choosing Your Officers
In this Raiding 101 series, we will discuss tips and tricks for various aspects of running a guild, which can range from guild leadership duties, to raid leading, to growing as a player. Today, we’ll talk about forging your leadership team!
While many guild masters tend to solo-lead guilds early in a guild’s lifespan, and even well past its infancy, this task eventually becomes impossible for one person. It’s extremely important to build upon the leadership foundation a guild master has built and bring in officers to assist in running the team, or even run the guild as an officer collective with no true “guild master.”
As with all topics we discuss in Raiding 101, there are a plethora of different approaches to create an effective officer team, but I’ll give some general tips on the qualities of excellent officer candidates, discuss considerations while forming the team, and finally, we’ll have to face every guild master’s worst nightmare, DELEGATION.
Table of Contents
Qualities of Great Officer Candidates
You’ll likely recognize a few of these qualities from our previous article on finding an ideal guild applicant. All officers start as excellent raiders, but also possess some extra je ne sais quoi that help them stand out as natural leaders. Here are just a few qualities to look for when you’re considering constructing your officer team:
THEY ARE SELF-STARTERS
These people take on additional work, pick up extra leadership tasks, offer assistance, and otherwise step up without needing to be asked. They prepare well for raid or other team-based activities, but are also community and raid team-minded outside of standard activity hours. Self-starters will naturally gravitate towards finding helpful tasks to accomplish, and tend to fall into leadership roles simply because they are invested in the guild.
THEY ARE THE RIGHT SOCIAL FIT
You certainly want officers to be bonded to, close with, and respectful of the community they’ll be helping lead. This doesn’t mean that your officers are best friends with everyone, or are the most popular members of the guild, but it does mean that they’re friendly and respectful of community members. However, BEWARE of cliques or popularity contests – particularly if you have a big group of friends on your team. While ideally cliques aren’t a big issue for your group, we know that like-minded people or those who spend a lot of time together doing similar activities (like keys) will naturally gravitate towards each other. Ensure that you are not promoting members who are clique- or friend-group minded instead of focusing on the community as a whole.
Additionally, try to avoid promoting several people from the same friend group, if possible. An officer team that feels like a pre-established group of best friends can generate some concern and frustration from guild members, as it’s hard to trust the motivations of a group who seems to value each other and themselves over the whole, whether that is the truth or not. When community members don’t trust their leadership team, handling things like loot, disagreements, disappointing raid nights, and even small details like guild bank transactions can be frustrating, discouraging and even impossible.
THEY ARE DEDICATED TO THE TEAM’S SUCCESS
In some ways, this quality certainly ties into the one above: you want to choose officers who are more focused on the team and guild’s success as a whole, versus their own success (loot, parses, social standing, etc), or that of a very tight-knit friend group. Additionally, sometimes people want to take on an officer role not because they love the guild and want it to succeed, but because they enjoy feeling important, or like the power that an officer tag can bring. This is exactly the kind of person you want to avoid promoting! While you’d rather not have officers who are reluctant to lead, or need to be pushed into it, choose candidates who are humble and clearly motivated by the team’s success.
THEY ARE RELIABLE RAIDERS
Officers should generally be reliable raiders both in performance and in attendance. Promoting officers who are underperformers can generate feelings of frustration and concerns about favoritism within your broader community, and especially your raid team. Of course, everyone understands that life can roll some nasty RNG and cause raiders to miss nights unexpectedly, but sometimes you’ll have players who tend to call out of raid last-minute on every end-tier boss fight, for example. If you’re running a very casual guild, perhaps this category is not applicable to you, which is fine! However, if your guild is progression-oriented, I’d certainly advise promoting players who can meet your attendance requirements and are reliable in raid, both in their throughput and mechanical performance.
THEY ARE RESPECTFUL BOTH TO YOU AND OTHER MEMBERS
I have been through a fair number of officers in my time as a guild leader, and while I hate to admit it, it has taken me many years to really put my foot down about ensuring my officers respect me and other members of the guild. It’s okay for leadership to have disagreements – in fact, respectful discussion is a healthy and positive aspect of a functional officer team. It is not okay for one officer, or even the guild leader, to be rude or disrespectful towards other members of the leadership team. The same is true for the rest of your community! Not only should officers be friendly with the guild members, but they should also be respectful and polite. Some guilds are notorious for the classic “abusive raid leader” trope, and perhaps that type of environment fits with their general guild vibe, but for the vast majority of guilds, a kinder approach will yield much better results.
We can all recognize the good-natured joking that naturally develops between guild members in a close-knit community, but that joking needs to stop when a member feels targeted by the comments, or is made uncomfortable or upset. Additionally, you may have officers who are slightly less approachable, which is okay, but no guild member should be afraid to approach any officer with personal concerns or speak up when they are uncomfortable. Under no circumstances should a member need to suffer in silence because an officer is unnecessarily abusive with no obvious recourse or resolution.
THEY TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
All members of a guild’s leadership team need to be able to step up and admit when they have done something wrong, whether it’s something small like a mistake on a boss fight, or something much larger like a poorly-timed comment. A good leader is one who recognizes when they have made a mistake and steps up to take responsibility for it, even though this may be an uncomfortable and truly humbling process.
Additionally, all members of a leadership team MUST be able to hold each other accountable. Ensure that all officers are on equal footing; even more than this, ensure that, as a guild master, you have selected officers who will hold YOU accountable for your behavior, and call you out when you have made a mistake. Far too many guilds struggle with this concept. It’s certainly natural for founding members to gravitate towards officer positions, which often results in a leadership team with previous friends, or couples, leading together. This arrangement can be fine, as long as each member of leadership is fully comfortable with and committed to holding each other accountable. It’s incredibly difficult to share officer duties with a partner or best friend, because relationship ties are necessarily stronger than leadership ties. Find a definite way to hold each other accountable and take each other to task in spite of any personal relationships or history; if this is not possible, it may be time to rethink your leadership team. A guild master or single officer with absolute power is a dangerous situation for any guild!
THEY HAVE DIVERSE WAYS OF THINKING
A guild’s officer core is not a hivemind and should contain a diversity of thoughts and perspectives. Ensure that each officer is clearly their own person with their own points of view. This point corresponds with the above. I see many new guild leaders build themselves a team of agreeable, perfectly-aligned officers, but this is actually not the best way to run a team. Do not build yourselves an echo chamber! Embrace differences, and ensure that you are bringing in officers who have their own stances and feelings on issues you’ll face together. A guild master who has surrounded themselves with ONLY yes-men (or women) can struggle to see the other side of important issues, and will rarely, if ever, allow themselves to be disagreed with or held accountable. Try your best to create a leadership team with varied points of view and opinions to avoid groupthink!
THEY HOLD THE SAME BASIC VALUES
While you do want to ensure you have a leadership team composed of people with different life experiences, as we discussed above, they certainly need to be aligned on crucial issues of social justice and inclusion. Your guild’s core values are a pivotal part of the deepest identity of the guild, and each officer must be able to fully espouse these values. If you are committed to inclusion and you have an officer who still feels justified in using slurs with no repercussions, for example, you are showing your community how little these core values actually mean to the people holding the guild’s power. Do not be the guild leader who impeaches your own values for the sake of avoiding conflict or keeping your officers comfortable.
Constructing Your Officer Team
The actual process of promoting officers can take many different forms. Some guilds choose to hold elections for officers, or for officers and GMs. Others elect officers based purely on nominations. For my team, I’ve found that a combination approach generally works best; if we have a vacancy on the officer team, we solicit nominations and suggestions. I find it helpful to know who has caught the team’s eye as a stand-out person, both in terms of personality and work ethic. However, my leadership team already has a few ideas about members who seem to be good officer picks. I would never want to make a promotion based solely on popularity, but the guild should already feel comfortable with new officers, as well.
One detail that is important to note is how many officers you’re actually choosing to promote. Try to make your leadership team proportionate with the size of your guild. One or two leaders handling everything in a mythic raiding guild is not a sustainable situation! Additionally, if you do have a guild master at the helm, it’s often a good idea to plan for an even number of officers, so the GM can serve as a tie-breaker. HOWEVER, do not promote people simply because you feel you must meet some quota. Officers hold a lot of power and responsibility in a guild, and you’re entrusting these people to help run an entire community. Do not make your choices lightly!
Almost every guild leader I’ve ever met has struggled with delegation. It can feel extremely stressful to hand over work to others, particularly if you’ve created the guild. My guild is my baby, and I’ve worked so hard to create and maintain it throughout the years, so I struggle with delegation a great deal (as any of my officers will tell you)! It’s hard to let go, but don’t be afraid! An overworked leader who is holding on to too many tasks is only harming their team by preventing it from growing or scaling.
At the very least, you should plan to have the following officers:
- At least one officer to assist with raid-specific tasks (additional callouts, log review, etc)
- A very social officer who can manage community-building events and fun nights (if those are relevant–and they should be!)
- An approachable officer who can be your “HR,” and serve as a point of contact for questions and concerns.
- A recruitment officer
- A raid leader
Remember that officers can wear multiple hats! For example, I handle recruitment, which naturally marks me as a point of contact for many of our raiders. I act as the “HR,” with help from my co-GM, who has been around for quite awhile and has cultivated the trust and friendship of our guildies. Our kindest and most delightful officer handles our weekly social raid, and helps me plan other community-building events. Many of us are able to step in and help with raid-specific needs, especially log review. While most officers can manage several different aspects of guild leadership, don’t forget that serving as a raid leader is an extremely big ask, and a super demanding role. Be prepared to provide support and extra hands for your raid leader, and try not to stack too many extra hats onto that person’s head! If the guild master is also the raid leader, it’s doubly important to ensure that they have plenty of extra hands on deck and support in managing these two roles.
Remember that your goal is not to delegate just tasks to your officers, but instead to delegate authority to them – allow each of your officers to be leaders in certain aspects of your guild management! If you choose to limit your officers’ leadership abilities by giving them only small tasks to handle, you are undermining their positions of authority and preventing them from truly helping you run the guild. You are also positioning yourself as the only true authority in the guild, which only further piles responsibility on your own plate. As we discussed in the section on responsibility, one person wielding all the power in a community creates far more problems than it solves or prevents.
No guild should have just one leader, and no one person should be juggling all the important aspects of running a community. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to assemble an officer team who have similar levels of authority and are responsible for managing different parts of the guild. You should choose these officers very carefully, and consider only those guild members who are responsible, humble, and dedicated to the guild’s success over the furtherance of their own goals.
Finally, please remember to delegate, delegate, delegate! No matter how much you may love your guild, one person cannot handle every single aspect of running a guild. Delegate responsibilities, not just tasks, to every member of the leadership team to keep yourself sane and your guild running smoothly.
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About the Author
Gogogadgetkat has been playing WoW since late BC, and has been the GM of her guild Propaganda since its creation in 2014. As a career healer, Kat has a number of CEs and old-school heroic kills under her belt, all on a variety of healing classes and specs—she’s a serial altoholic! In addition to Mythic raiding and a little Mythic+, creating safe, inclusive spaces in gaming is her longtime passion; Kat has been an admin for the Perky Pugs community since late BfA, and is also a founding council member and the community manager for the DEIBAJ initiative Liquid Women in Warcraft. She is excited to bring her wealth of experience and love of writing to the Raider.IO team.