The Carrot and The Stick   12 comments

There are many ways to lead raids, some successful, some not so successful.  Some enjoyable, some not so enjoyable.  No matter which you choose they will all largely depend on the personality of those that you play with, and their goals.  I know that there are some guilds where leading with the stick is the norm.  Where nightly ranting and berating is to be expected, and where members accept that as being a part of that guild.

For me, I much prefer, and think that you usually get better results, from the carrot.  While I do sometimes get very frustrated on a personal level, I try to keep that out of the raid (unless Brade has his mic queued without me knowing…).  I find that, just like in life, most adults like to be treated as adults, and will generally produce better results when treated as such.  I think providing a pleasant raid experience tends to encourage people to turn up night after night to participate in whatever activity happens to be on the schedule.  I like the carrot.  I like positive reinforcement, and I like open discussion.

That being said, sometimes there is no alternative for the stick.  Sometimes people just need a quick whack to get them back on track.

As an example.  My guild has certain encounters that tend to just have our number.  The past two weeks, this has been Putricide, for whatever reason.  Sure, we get him down, but with no small amount of total stupidity ensuing (sometimes even from yours truly!), and frustration.  For whatever reason, people just fall all over themselves, and the stellar players that we saw all night long leading up to this point, let their stunt doubles drive.  I can think of no other logical excuse for what is happening!  Stunt doubles, I tell ya!

For the past two weeks, we have taken far more pulls than was necessary to finish this task.  And both weeks, I’ve had to revert to letting out my inner-bitch to get folks to focus after an hour or two of just flat out sloppy play.  Both weeks, the pull after the inner-bitch was let loose we netted a kill.  (WTF!  No, Seriously, WTF!).  In both of these instances, wielding the stick netted better results than offering the carrot.  Hell, I even half jokingly asked last night “Should I just yell at y’all before our first pull next week, and skip the bullshit in between?”.

I certainly recognize that sometimes the stick is needed, there is just no way around it.  The problem is…I hate wielding it.  I get inner-bitch’s remorse.  “Was I too hard on people”.  “Did I holler inappropriately”.  “Should I have just let it go”.  Nine times out of ten, the answer is always “no”.  I did the right thing, people needed to be whipped into line and brought back to focus.  But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it.

Quite the opposite, actually.  I much prefer to offer respect, and provide a venue for constructive feedback and growth.  I think that people are more open to fixing performance issues when they don’t have the fear of god (or Beru in this case) in them.  I think that, as a general principle, the carrot is a much better motivator.  At least it’s the one that I have come to prefer.

But…that doesn’t mean that there aren’t appropriate times to brandish the stick either.  However, I think knowing when to make use of it is extremely important.  Because if you swing it constantly, people will start to ignore it or just grow used to it’s sting.  But if you only bring it out on occasion, people know it’s “srs bizns”.  When the usually calm, collected, and friendly Beru is now in your face as if you were Private Pyle, people know that the shit has hit the fan and it’s the splash of cold water they need to regroup…usually.

As much as I hate it, I have to admit that the stick is sometimes a necessity.

Which do you prefer, the carrot or the stick?  At what point do you think it’s appropriate to bring out the stick?

Posted February 10, 2010 by Beruthiel in /rant, Raid Leadership

12 responses to “The Carrot and The Stick

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  1. I think you have to know the people you are leading. For example, when athletes choose a college, they are also choosing a coach. If a kid wanted to play for a guy like Bobby Knight (loud, obnoxious, wields a giant steel pole as his stick) he may be they type that responds well to sticks. Other kids choose more “carrot” oriented coaches because they respond to it.

    As a RL you need to know what your people respond to and respect, then do it. Neither stick or carrot 100% of the time is effective, it’s knowing your people well enough to know when to use it. I like carrots, I think most people respond to carrots most of the time because it’s a respectful way to treat others. But I know that every now and then a stick does me good.

  2. Yes, a good whack upside the head works 9/10.

    In most of the guilds that I’m in I find that people just start getting distracted. Vent is full of chat. People are talking about their weekend plans… and then autorun right into a boss. Sigh.

    Also, I think the “carrot” is sometimes incorrectly used. “No breaks, the faster we kill Blood Council the sooner we can get to a new boss” and then you end up 2 hours later still unable to kill Blood Council. That just makes everyone feel bad.

  3. Ah, I was just talking about The Endless Carrot yesterday. Always good to have goals to keep one interested ;)

    • I would agree! Each raid night, we do try to lay out what we would like to accomplish that night. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we surpass it, and sometimes we don’t meet the goals we set.

      But, I find letting people know “here is where we want to go” is often very helpful!

  4. I personally don’t mind either as long as they’re both warranted. The thing that really irks me is when I get the stick and it isn’t warranted.

    I think you’ve got the right idea with your leadership style. Always using the carrot or always using the stick is never going to be as effective as judiciously using both.

  5. I generally much prefer letting raids lead themselves, as a raid leading style (kind of touched on here, but sometimes you need to really focus your raiders and use the stick.

    “Should I just yell at y’all before our first pull next week, and skip the bullshit in between?”

    Oooh, I can so see the temptation in that!

    • I am not sure I agree with raids “leading themselves”. Someone has to have their hands on the steering wheel, even if it’s just to guide the motorcoach in the right direction :)

      • Have you seen the TED talk about conducting?

        I think that mostly the contours of the raid will guide the raiders. Yes, most raids probably need a good hand to guide the car-or bus to be size appropriate–but I think its a good ideal to aspire to.

        And its a fun TED talk.

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