Making Difficult Decisions   15 comments

We have always looked at Monolith as a family.  We celebrate successes together, we struggle through difficulties together, and we grow as a group together.  Like all families, we have people who will grate on your nerves, like your annoying Aunt Martha who thinks that the only way to do something is her way, and will tell you about it until you feel like you are going to puke.  Sure…you want to tell her to just shut the fuck up, but instead you politely smile and nod as she speaks, as if you really care, all in an effort to keep the family peace.

Why, you might ask, am I talking about my Aunt Martha?  Well, we had to let someone from our family go last night.

I’m sure you are thinking “so what, people get kicked from guilds all the time”.  That might be true for other guilds…but we really do view our members as part of our family.  We have not guild removed anyone outside of their trial period in…well, it’s been so long that I can’t even recall when the last time we did it.  It was a difficult decision to make, and one that saddened me quite a bit.  However, when all is said and done, I really think it was probably for the best and that ultimately we made the right decision.

Let me spin the tale of Chas (I have changed the name of my guildmate for purposes of this post).

I would like to start off by stating that I liked Chas very much.  I felt that he was a reliable member of the guild, always willing to help and frequently provided things like fish for feasts above and beyond most of our other members, with his only downfall largely being that complained about anything and everything constantly.  It saddens me greatly that what has occurred has transpired.

For a number of months Chas and other members of our guild have had an ongoing, semi-public, conflict.  I do not the exact details of the conflict, other than it was “personal” or why it remained on going, only that all parties involved were having difficulty letting go of it.  What I do know is that for the most part Chas made a great effort to remove himself from the conflict, but was unable to ignore what he perceived as hostility that was still coming from other members of the guild, and it caused him great personal distress.  I will also state that Chas was also extremely sensitive, perhaps too much so, and that a spat of thicker skin on his part would have helped alleviate a good number of the problems.  In the vernacular, I suppose that you could say Chas was “emo”. 

The leadership spent months trying to smooth over this conflict, and all parties involved were spoken with ad nauseam in an effort to resolve it to a point that people could at least be respectful to each other.  It quite literally got to the point that a tell, or PM, from any of the parties involved made me want to log out of the game, and it was sucking the fun out of the playing for me because I had to spend more time mediating the conflict than actually, you know, enjoying the game.  The leadership tried to remain a neutral party in the conflict and work towards a resolution that would let all parties involved at least co-habit in the same guild space, even if it meant they had each other on ignore and never interacted with each other whatsoever.

Again, if Chas could have just thickened up his skin some, and let things slide off, and if Chasesta wasn’t such a bitch who went out of her way to be…well, a bitch, things probably would have turned out quite differently and our efforts to resolve the issue would have been at least moderately successful.  In some part, our willingness to try to mediate the situation to an amiable resolution was probably our biggest fault.  In hindsight, we should have just come down harder on the bullshit.  We did in fact finally get so sick of it that we said “all of you can be respectful to each other, or you can get the fuck out”.  However, that action was a day late and a dollar short.  In essence, we had just been too damn nice, harboring false hopes that we were working with a group of reasonable adults rather than playing “principal” in a Jr. High School full of irrational 14 year old, hormonal kids.

This conflict came to a bit of a head on Tuesday evening with our alt run, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  I will take partial responsibility for it, because perhaps it could have been avoided had I been clearer in lying out down expectations with regards to our alt run, expectations that I had assumed everyone in our guild would just follow by default.  This is a standing run of all guild mates, where 90% of the people play the same alt every week.  We have a few people, myself included, that like to vary which of their level 80 alts they bring to participate in the run.  Now, our expectation was that you would use some modicum of decency and common courtesy with regards to loot when you brought in your second…or fourth alt.  That is to say, if you had won a big item on another alt, such as a trinket or weapon, you would naturally use some discretion if that item dropped again and you were on an alt that didn’t have the item yet.

As I said, these are all guild runs, and quite honestly, I never in a million years would have expected one of my guild members to 1) roll on an item that they had already received in a prior run, against others in the raid without the item; or 2) question our request that they use some discretion when rolling for an item.  Clearly, I don’t know some of the members of my guild as well as I thought I did :(  And I apparently didn’t set out our expectations as clearly as I should have when people asked me if they could bring a different alt into these runs.  I will accept the responsibility for that.

Now, a decision was made in Tuesday’s alt run by the leadership that required Chas to show respect and courtesy (as described above) with regards to a rare item that he had already taken on another alt in a previous run.  While I do not normally believe this to be a problem for Chas, as he tends to be a reasonable guy, he was a bit incensed because he was asked to do these things for someone who he felt (see comment above about stated emoness) outwardly disrespected him and never showed him the courtesy that we were asking him to now show.  I completely understood his frustrations and how he felt, and I do not fault him for being frustrated at being asked to be respectful to someone who appeared to make little effort to do the same in return.

 However, we strive to be fair and honest, and the leadership did not feel that it was appropriate to permit “double diping”, as it were, regardless of the situation, on a run that is regularly scheduled and generally attended by the same group of people.  We had erroneously made the assumption that those expectations were a given to those few members of the raid that like to rotate which alts that they brought into the group, and that they would use some discretion and courtesy when rolling for loot.  We were at fault for perhaps not communicating that expectation as clearly as we should have to those switching around alts.  But, we also were not going to throw our known reputation for  fairness out the window, either, and addressed the situation.

When I reminded Chas that we had fairly high standards, he basically laughed in my face “lol, it’s just a stupid alt run”.  So I asked him if he thought that meant we should throw our standards out the window…and sadly, he indicated he thought it was a joke to have standards in an alt run.  I’m sorry, it’s not “just an alt run”.  It is a Monolith raid, and it will maintain the same standards that everyone in, and out, of our guild have come to expect from . 

Ultimately, Chas was displeased with our request that he show respect and courtesy to someone who frequently failed to offer him the same in return, and I suppose, ultimately, with what he felt our inadequate handling of resolving the conflict.  As a result, he asked to be moved to an inactive status as he felt that the best way to resolve the conflict once and for all would be to remove himself completely from any interaction with the parties that he had the conflict.

 Now, we generally have no issues with members requesting to stop raiding, and are generally happy to move them to an inactive status and let them continue to play casually in our friends/family rank.  I was saddened by his decision, but everyone has a right to make such decisions.

Unfortunately, this request opened up a whole new can of worms as Chas has been running some server wide GDKP runs.  I, personally, had participated in a few of these, and upon Chas’ request helped lead them so that they went smoothly.  But, I had received a steady stream of complaints regarding these runs from any number of guildmates that didn’t care for the runs for one reason or another.  While Chas was an active member of the guild I did not have a problem fielding the complaints and supporting Chas.  However, for someone who, in a bit of a huff wanted to become inactive, it now because a bigger issue.  Why?  Because we had a good number of active raiders who were unhappy with the runs…which were now going to be run by an inactive member of the guild. 

One of the concerns that was voiced by a number of people to the leadership privately was “what if something goes wrong, and Monolith has to deal with the downfall”.  While I honestly do not think that Chas would sabotage his runs, or purposefully cause something to go afoul, those that addressed the concern did bring up a valid point.  There was a risk by allowing the runs to be run under the Monolith tag and utilizing resources provided by Monolith, such as Ventrilo.  While it was not advertised as a Monolith run, all perceptions are that it was a Monolith sponsored, or at least approved, run while Chas was wearing the Monolith tag. 

Unfortunately what that means is that should there ever be some sort of downfall with the runs, not that I honestly expect that to happen, Monolith would then be “left with the bill” as it were, and would then have to work to protect our goodwill on the server.  Again, I didn’t expect that to occur, but nobody expects things like that to happen.  This was a risk that I was OK taking while Chas remained an active member of the guild, but became a risk that I didn’t want take for an inactive member.  Not to mention that I have a number of active members indicating that they were displeased with the runs.  When push comes to shove, I need to give more weight to our active members than our inactive members.  We are first and foremost a raiding guild, and one of our priorities is to maintain a roster that is conducive to progression raiding.

This left us in a very difficult position because we now needed to weigh out my personal, albeit waning, likes for this member as an inactive member against the desires of our active members.  So, our hands became a bit tied.  We had to advise Chas that as an inactive member he could not continue the GDKP runs under the tag due to a number of concerns, and explained those concerns to him.  We kindly requested that if it was his desire to continue to host the runs, that he deguild himself, until such time that he had decided that he wasn’t going to run the GDKP runs anymore, and then he would be welcome to return as a friends and family member.  He refused.

Ok…at this point, I’m going WTF.  You have spent MONTHS bitching at me about how certain people in the guild make your life miserable.  You have spent MONTHS of my time trying to make me fix what apparently was an un-fixable problem.  And then you refuse to leave a place that had apparently become so volatile to you that you felt you could no longer raid?  And of course he told us to “do whatever you think best” and then immediately logged off.

That left us in the un-enviable position of having to remove a member from our guild, something that we probably have not done in over a year.  And then explain to our guild what transpired, as we rarely remove people so it’s a big deal when it occurs.  But it also did something else, and this pisses me off a little bit: it put Chas in the position of claiming he was a victim and was kicked from Monolith.  So be it.

While I was sad to see it transpire this way, I was learning some things about Chas through his behaviours and mentalities that were causing me to grow less fond of him.  And in the end, his removal from the guild was probably for the best, even if it was an unfavorable result.  It eliminated a great deal of stress from me, in having to deal with the constant stream of drama and try to keep it under control and itt solved the problem of guildmates being unhappy with us permitting the GDKP runs under the Monolith name.

As for the others in this tale, they have been told that if we ever see so much as a hint of this behaviour from them again, they aren’t going to get so much as a courtesy “have a nice day” before they are removed from the guild.

I suppose sometimes you’ve just got to make those difficult decisions.

Posted December 3, 2009 by Beruthiel in Guild leadership, Guild Management

15 responses to “Making Difficult Decisions

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  1. You live, you learn. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s difficult to tell what’s the best course of action at the time. You did the best you could with a rather terrible situation, and in the end it was his choice.

    Don’t beat yourself up about this too much. It may hurt to kick someone like this, but the truth of the matter is it was probably better for everyone overall.

    However, if the briefly mentioned Chasesta keeps acting the bitch…she needs some stern regulation.

  2. Don’t worry Bell! Chasesta’s got no more liferopes to cling to. One more mis-step from her, and she has already been advised she would be looking for a new place to hang her virtual hat.

    We came down pretty hard on all parties involved in this debacle. I just snapped. I Went from Ms. Nelson to Ms. Viola Swamp. ;)

  3. Must be the day for it, huh? We’re going through some pretty nasty drama at the moment, too, although it’s particularly bad because there’s some conflict between two officers.

    I don’t know what/if you could have done anything differently. But I do know what it’s like when a guild member actually tries to play the victim and force you to kick them when they have been chastised by leadership. One guy was particularly nasty over guild chat and said things like “kick me if you want” but we just ignored it. When he returned to the game after a month’s break (still in the guild) he was extremely apologetic. It makes me wonder if these people get angry because it’s easier than admitting that they may have been wrong, or done something wrong.

    Alt runs are just… a nightmare. I’m not quite sure why your raid members are so upset about the GDKP runs, if they don’t like the leader… just … don’t go?

    • Ugh…we are really pretty low key as far as drama goes. Every guild is going to have some, it’s inevitable, but we tend to do a fairly decent job at keeping what little we do have private.

      If I’m going to be completely honest, I am relieved that there is finally a resolution to this particular drama. I don’t know that I am particularly happy about the resolution, but I also know that I am no longer going to cringe everytime I open up the forums and see a message in my PM box, or get a whisper from particular people. And that, in itself, is a relief.

      This has really only been the first hiccup in our alt run, but that might be because when I started them I said “If they end up being more work than fun, I will not continue doing them”, so people had a vested interest in keeping them fun. Which is what they were meant to be.

      I absolutely think that people get angry because they don’t like being honest with themselves about having erred in one way or another. It’s easier for some people to just shut down their mind to logic and reason than it is to admit you had done something wrong. We’ve offered this particular member a return spot as a friends and family member, which I very much doubt he will accept, but I also think that he expected us to coddle him and tell him we didn’t want him to go. So, I tend to think it was a bit of a shock to him when that didn’t occur, and he was removed.

      As for the GDKP runs, not very many people from the guild attended them, but they were often attending by people who would also help out elsewhere. Ultimately, there were two big concerns: 1) we have a very healthy friends and family rank and we have alot of people who like to run extra runs, 10 mans, etc. on our off nights, and the GDKP runs actually interferred with the planning of those runs, because people who would generally attend these guild sponsered runs would now not commit themselves. And, Chas would get upset if someone scheduled a run around the same time as his GDKP run, feeling that they were trying to “sabatoge” his run. This part wasn’t public knowledge, but was something I heard about reguarly from him. And 2) there is a real concern with something going wrong within the runs, and Monolith taking the fall for it, which is something we weren’t willing to continue doing.

      Of course…we had also concluded that Chas just wanting out, without just being upfront about wanting out, was also a strong possibility that shouldn’t be dismissed. *shrug*

      As for your guild problems…it’s got to be the planets aligning strangely or something!

      I can’t access your site from work (which is why I don’t reply frequently, even though I really want to!) unless I use google translator, which won’t let me log in to reply, but I read it daily! I read your post this AM, and I don’t know if I can offer advice! You seem to already give good advice :)

      As for two officers at each other…that was one of the things that lead to our guild split back in Vanilla. It is nasty, nasty business :( Hopefully you guys are all able to get everything worked out without too much colleteral damage from the results. Good Luck!

  4. It is unfortunate that Chas had to be removed but it’s not fair to you, or others to have to play mediator all the time. Sometimes the only way to remove the drama is to remove drama creator and if Chas had potential to do damage to the guild I don’t think anyone can fault you for taking action.

    Another thing to remember is that it’s not usually just one reason for a raider to ask to be put on inactive. For instance if Chas had a raider friend (one who often calmed him down in dealings with Chasesta) recently take a leave of absence, Chas may have already felt less desire to raid and the “incident” just gave a final push. Although I hope that’s not the case :(

    • Well, Chasesta also did her fair bit to create the drama, and actually was the one that was given the Ultimatum to shape up or ship out…which I actually DO think she was trying to put some effort into. LIke I said…had Chas had thicker skin, and just let things go, the whole thing would probably have been a non-issue, and wouldn’t have consumed months of my time, because Chasesta would have lost any desire to continue if she was no longer receiving a reaction.

      I, personally, find Chasesta a raging bitch 90% of the time. But, every family has one. She IS just like Aunt Martha…only I frequently exercise my right to tell her to shut the fuck up when she’s crossed the line. She is annoying, but it is just who she is. She can be a total bitch…but she doesn’t discriminate. Everyone else in the guild just takes it for what it is, doesn’t take it personally, and moves along. Just like Chas, she, too, is a contributor, and frequently offers to lead and host things on off nights that people enjoy (granted, she has a good number of people who just won’t sign up for her raids because they can’t stand her as well).

      The truth is, I didn’t want to loose either of them. Despite their uniqueness they were both contributing members of the guild…and had become members of the Monolith family. I suppose that is why I spent months trying to work everything out.

      Monolith has a few unique members, and I find the best way to integrate new people into our long standing family, is just to give them a heads up on what to expect from certain people in the guild :)

      There are three people that I always give new members a heads up on, as they tend to rub people the wrong way at first until they get to know them…and you know what they say about first impressions:
      “Chasesta is a bit of a spitfire, so don’t take anything she may say personally, if she offends you it’s probably not intentionally, but if it becomes a problem, please let me know”;

      “Inactive Warrior was a founding member of the guild, but is also a guy who loves “hot topics” and a good debate, and sometimes will speak just to see the responses he receives. If you find him offensive, please feel free to place him on ignore”;

      and “Mage, is a bit of a know-it-all, but means very well. He really is quite knowledgable, but lacks some finesse in his presentation of this knowledge, so don’t be offended if he comes off a bit arrogant, he really is a nice guy”.

      5 years of experience has taught me that you can head off a lot of problems, and help people become better aclimated to your guild, by just heading off known potential issues!

  5. Hey Beru,
    You did the right thing.
    It sounds like a pretty harsh situation to be put in in the first place to be fair, and things were almost guaranteed to come to a head eventually.
    Everybody, at some point, gets involved in some kind of drama. We’ve all been there in some shape or form so you certainly shouldn’t feel bad about that.
    Sofx

    • You are right! I just don’t think that it is humanly possible to get a group of people together and have everyone get along. We have 162(?) accounts in our guild. 34ish of those are active raiders, and even among those 34 there will be conflicts of personality. You just can’t avoid it! I think what makes or breaks it is how people choose to deal with those conflicts.

      The entire situation was just ugly…and I suppose bound to come to a head at some point with the removal of someone. And let’s be honest, I’m no Ghandi, and I do not have infinite patience (just ask anyone that raids with us!). There was bound to be a point where my rage bar went red as my patience meter emptied :)

  6. God, there’s something in the water at the moment. I was just reading on HoTs & DoTs about some difficult and complicated guild stuff. Anyway, it seems a horrible situation but it sounds to me – from my perspective as a total outsider – that you did the right thing, and handled it well throughout. As if you’d ever do anything else :) Miserable and awkward situation though.

    • OK…before I go any further with this comment, Tam, there is something that I must share with you, that I think you will find humourus:

      I went to your blog today, for my normal morning visit, to be met with a internet block from work for…wait for it…”Sexual Content”. W.T.F. So I opened up my google workaround to see what could have possibly prompted this block (usually I get hit with a “games” block). Could it have seriously been your post about star crossed lovers?! Alas…I do not know.

      Back to topic:
      My job frequently requires me to be diplomatic and maintain composure in difficult situations, and this is something that I try to let carry over into guild management. Not to say that I don’t have my moments where I, too, just lose it, but I try hard to remain calm. Sometimes cold, rational logic in the face of controversy throws people through a loop and they don’t know how to react. Sometimes people are so worked up that they cannot, or do not want to, see logic.

      I had hoped that we could have resolved the issues without losing a member of our guild, but…as the title says, sometimes you just have to make difficult decisions.

  7. Drama always brews up during the pre patch lull. My guild had a hit, and looking around the blogosphere, it’s kinda comforting to know that we’re not the only ones.

    • “You are not alone” :)

      In my opinion, the best way to deal with drama is to try to keep it private, and just between the parties involved. The few people that know about it, the fewer people will be affected by the outcome.

  8. I <3 you Beru!

    I have nothing else constructive to add.

    • AFK…flying to Atlanta to snuggle with Lunchbox! ;)

      I had actually started drafting a “here is what went down” for the guild forums so people knew what was happening, but the more I wrote and read it, the more I felt like I was having to justify our decision. And that’s the thing, we DON’T have to justify it. It is what it is, and it’s a shame it occured, but it’s done.

      I provided everyone who was online at the time a “cliff notes” version in guild chat, and I feel were very fair to “chas” in our detail of what occured, and honest in our statement that we were sad to see him go. We opened the door to let anyone with questions approach any one of the three officers with questions and/or concerns on the issues. And do you know how many we received? Just one…from someone who wasn’t online the night it happened, and just asking why he wasn’t guilded any longer.

      The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it’s probably just best to let it die down, and let anyone that wanted to discuss it with us, ask about it. My biggest concern is that someone will ask him what occured and get a somewhat inaccurate account, and then not ask us for more detail. However, I think that because we have always been fair, honest and transparent in our leadership, people will also give us a little bit of credit.

  9. Good riddance in my opinion. GDKP is for gear-whores and gold-whores alike. If you just want to view the new content for yourself and farm badges, then they work out great since the gear/gold whores go all-out for their purple pixels.

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