Today I came across a post by Matticus (http://www.worldofmatticus.com/2010/04/20/in-which-i-attempt-to-bring-order-to-chaos/), in which he laments about the struggles of guild leadership, recruiting in this pre-expansion period, and the challenges presented by progression and recruiting. In his post he speaks very candidly about some of the struggles he is having as guild master in trying to hold everything together, and some of the compromises that he feels obligated to make.
After reading his post, and some of the comments that others posted, one thing struck a little bit of a chord with me. Matticus, quite honestly, stated that because of his challenges in recruiting, he feels obliged to take on raiders who create conflict…and turns a little bit of a blind eye to the tensions that are starting to arise. One of his posters commented that if you want to progress, you have to make that a goal beyond anything else and cannot care about how members of your guild feel.
And to both of those comments, I find myself asking why. Why should you compromise the standards of something that you want to build? Why does someone feel that the only way to progress is to do so in an awful environment?
The Recruiting Problem
To speak to the first point, I certainly know where Matticus is coming from. Recruiting is hard. It is even harder when you aren’t as progressed as other guilds, and even then there is the added complication of an expansion looming on the horizon. I don’t think there is anyone in a guild leadership position who can honestly say that they haven’t picked up a recruit in a moment of desperation that they haven’t regretted adding to their roster. If they do, they are lying to you.
However, the thing that I think probably causes more problems than merely picking up people who don’t mesh well with your core roster, is ignoring the fact that they don’t mesh well because you need numbers. Lowering your standards to fill raid slots is one thing, but dealing with disrespectful people is quite another. In my opinion, no matter where you are in your recruiting cycle, if you stray away from the vision that you have for your guild, you are only asking for more trouble down the way.
Now, I can certainly get behind, and empathize with, needing to add an undergeared, and perhaps underskilled member to your roster to help fill slots, and at this stage in the game, I think it’s somewhat unavoidable to think that you may have to back gear some of your new recruits. As a guild, we have certainly always taken what the person can bring to the table over the gear the person has on their body. Granted, at some point in your progression you cannot over look those things, but sometimes a slightly less geared person that fits in well with your guild is far superior to a slightly better geared person who does not fit in well. And in the end, having to work to get their gear up to where it needs to be is often worth the extra effort and time that it took.
Now, I personally feel that it’s far more important to find people that fit in well with your guild. If you have certain core values, you should stick to those values. For us, our biggest value is respect. We tell every recruit that makes it past the “fill out the application” stage that you don’t have to like everyone that you play with, but you must treat them with respect. It is unreasonable to think that you can get a group of 30+ people together and have them all get along. It just isn’t realistic. But that does not mean that those people can’t treat each other well, regardless of their differences.
While it may not seem like the best option in the short term, sometimes it’s just better to turn away those applicants that you don’t think will mesh. Sure, their gear is great. Their parses look fantastic. But there is something about them that just raises a red flag. And it’s hard. Believe me, it’s very difficult to turn away someone that would perhaps be a good raider…but a bad fit for the guild when you are recruiting. But in the long run, more often than not, it always works out for the best.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that you have standards for a reason. And there are definitely certain standards where being soft are acceptable, and at times even necessary, (such as gear/experience) and some where you should just not set those standards aside (such as respect). While I know that recruiting can be very difficult, and there are not always great applicants, I firmly believe that you may cause more problems than you will solve by ignoring certain standards that you current members expect to be upheld.
In short, decide what you want from your guild and don’t ignore things that may be considered key staples of your guild for some, or all, of your members.
Only Assholes Succeed
Now, onto something that was stated by one of Matticus’ posters that is a really big misconception. In the comments, the poster all but said if you want progression, you can’t have respect. Well, that’s what I took from it at least. He said if you want to progress, you can only have the focus and you do it any way that you can, even if it means that you are surrounded by people you can’t stand.
No. Just no.
I don’t think I can vehemently disagree with anything more (outside of the ToL changes!) than this mindset. Now, my guild isn’t raking in world firsts, but we do pretty well for ourselves. We usually fall about World 1500-2000, and around US 500-800. While we aren’t setting any records, we aren’t exactly tripping over ourselves either, and I would consider us to be decently progressed (7/12 ICC HM). And you know what? We do that and still manage to keep an environment that our members enjoy.
Sure, there is the occasional holler in vent. There is the occasional spat. But overall, we have a pretty great group of people who largely respect each other and we still manage to get things done. You do not have to be in an ego driven, terrible environment to find success in this game.
How did we get there? By setting our standards and sticking to them. By not recruiting people that we didn’t feel would be a good fit. By removing people who repeatedly crossed the line and failed to recognize, or just didn’t care, that it was crossed. We said “this is what we’d like to be, and here is what we’d like to accomplish”, and we set out to do that. We are honest and upfront about our goals and our expectations.
And, in all honesty, our low key and drama free atmosphere is what draws a lot of people to us, either via word of mouth, or by personal experiences with our members. It’s also one of the reasons, I feel, for our fairly high retention rate of our members. We are honest, upfront and respectful about what you will get with us, and even though at times it makes recruiting more challenging, we tend to get members that enjoy themselves while in our guild. And that is our biggest selling point. Sure, our progression doesn’t hurt. But I think it’s the fact that we are what we are and we can still get things done that provide us the biggest benefit.
I’m sorry, Mr. Matticus’ commenter. You are just wrong. You can still progress well enough without sacrificing an enjoyable atmosphere.
When it is all said and done, I do believe that you can have progress and you can still surround yourself with a group of people that you enjoy playing with. I do not think that success and respect have to be mutually exclusive propositions in a raiding atmosphere. That being said, it certainly isn’t the easiest way, if you will, and it is definitely very challenging to find a good balance. But it can be done.
You can have your cake, and eat it too. It just may take a great deal of effort to bake the cake.
What do you all think? Should you turn away from your standards? Can progression raiding and enjoying the game happen together? Does progress mean that you have to forfeit respect?