What Motivates You?   20 comments

Last night at 8:45 pm, which is about 45 minutes into our raid, we had a 3% wipe on Nefarian. I thought to myself “great! New strategy seems to be solid, just need to give the kite tank a few more pulls in phase 3 with this strategy and we’ve got a kill, no problem!”. Famous last words. For the next two hours we were plagued with mistakes, disconnects, game freezes at the load in screen and other miscellaneous unfortunate things – basically you name it, we had it.

Somewhere about 11:15 – I lost my patience with the raid.

I had tried to stay calm. I had tried to stay collected. I had tried being nice. I had tried talking through what went wrong calmly. But mistake after mistake started to wear me thin. The clock ticking down to the end of our raid started to wear me thin. We weren’t failing because we couldn’t do it, we were failing because collectively we weren’t focused and we weren’t performing. And after one very unfortunate missed interrupt in phase 2 that wiped the raid – I unleashed on the raid.

Not one individual person, I very rarely single anyone out. But the entirety of my wrath was put forth at the team as a whole. And you know what? The next pull was an unfortunate 12% wipe when the kite tank died. And the pull after that netted our kill.

Now, personally, I feel that yelling at the raid is generally an ineffective method of leadership. I hate doing it. For days after I employ the roaring “get your shit together folks”, I second guess if I was out of line and if I couldn’t have managed to motivate the raid by using some other means. Not only that, but generally people (including myself) just don’t like to be yelled at. To be fair to myself, I probably yell at our raid as much in one year’s time as some guilds do in one week’s. But that doesn’t really change how I feel about it.

After the raid last night, I was bemoaning to one of our raid members how yelling at the raid makes me feel pretty awful. I told him it pretty much hate feeling that I have to do it, to which he honestly responded “I hate having to listen to it” but also followed it up with “but I’ll be damned if you can’t get people fired up”. And there is some truth to that statement. Generally after I holler people seem to put it together, get focused, and we get shit done.

But it’s my thought that the raid shouldn’t need to take that course of action. I am of the opinion that our performance shouldn’t decrease to the point that I feel the best solution is to turn into a Drill Sergeant that would make Private Pyle look like he spent a week at Club Med. There have got to be better motivators than that.

As I am sure is common with many raids, we have a tendency to get sloppy the later in the raid night it gets. We lose focus, people get tired, and as a team our performance often starts to decrease. Last night when we got to this point, and before the raid felt the wrath of Gunnery Sergeant Beru – I asked them “what do we need to do to motivate you?”. And we were met by silence, with one person typing out “shrug”. Hell, if my players don’t know what motivates them how in the hell am I supposed to figure it out?!

Ever since then I’ve been thinking. “What is it that motivates raiders to perform?” What is it that keeps people focused as the clock ticks closer to the end of the night? I’m sure that there isn’t a “right” or a “wrong” answer for this, as everyone will be motivated by different things. But to be an effective leader, you’ve really got to figure out what it is that really keeps your team focused.

You see, while there are easy ways to evaluate your performance as a player, there aren’t as many easy ways to evaluate your performance as a leader. There isn’t a WoL that tracks “your speech motivated 18 of your 25 raiders” or tells you when you “stood in the bad” by making a terrible call. As nice as that would be, the only thing that really provides you this data is feedback from your raid team. And after a particularly rough night, I do query a good number of our raid team to get their feedback on what they feel worked and what didn’t. But I pretty strongly believe that you always have room for improvement and growth as a leader, just as you do as a player, and I am always looking for more creative ways to keep people engaged and focused during a raid.

As such I am extremely curious, when it gets down to that 11th hour, what motivates you to keep performing your best? Does a good yell kick you in the ass? Do you prefer a William Wallace-esque motivational speech to really get you fired it? Do you prefer a cold, passionless, analytical breakdown of each mistake? If you are a leader, how often and when do you pull out your yellin’ guns? What generally leads up to feeling that you need to get your raid in line with a good holler? And on that token, do you feel that yelling at your team is effective? If you frequently employ that as a method of motivation – do you feel that it starts to become more and more ineffective?

Posted February 1, 2011 by Beruthiel in Raid Leadership, Raiding

20 responses to “What Motivates You?

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  1. I really couldn’t say. I can say, though, that the one instance wherein I was the leader in a 10-man Yogg 1 Light kill that required motivation… well. We’d been bashing our heads against him for a combined, like, 3 hours (an hour the previous raid night and 2 that night). We’d gotten p1 down, but couldn’t seem to get through p2 without too many deaths to push to p3. We’d seen the start of p3 once when, in an effort to wipe everything up, both our warlocks jumped into the portal and set FIRE to the brain room. We changed up our strat after that, but started having trouble in p1 of all things.

    Eventually, as we were eating after a wipe, I said “Okay, look guys, this is fun, but we need to stop goofing off and actually focus on this. We know we can do this, we need to stop slacking and kill this bastard.” And… despite the fact that I hadn’t really thought I was much “in charge” other than being the organizer, they all buckled down and we had a near-perfect kill. It was a really amazing feeling for me. (and after that, we trotted over to Algalon, 3-shot him, and then showed off our new mounts and titles in Dalaran)

    • I would agree that sometimes reminding folks why we are all here works great. But what I’m more curious about is what your response would have been if that didn’t work out – and you continued to struggle with the encounter 🙂

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  3. As dumb as it sounds… our main tank plays the audio for this video over Vent.

  4. I dislike yelling as well, but I do think on occasion it can be warranted. I think the key is to not have it happen often – and in your case it doesn’t seem to. If a raid leader yells every raid people stop listening and caring. If it’s a raid leader who normally stays calm I think you would perk up and listen.

    • I agree that from time to time it’s spot on and effective. I just worry that it becomes a go to habit for focus. I’m more curious as to other methods people use to motivate when things aren’t going quite as planned!

  5. As a raider, I want to down the boss and be the best I can be. But my motivation differs depending on what I’m doing. For dps, I have a nice obvious measure of my failure or lack thereof in the dps meters. If I’m dpsing, I want to be as close to the top as possible while doing my other duties (killing the adds, not pulling aggro, protecting the healers, not standing in bad), and I want to see improvement in my own dps. If I’m healing, I don’t want anyone to die.

    Yelling is actually demoralizing for me, as I tend to take it personally and second-guess myself. I’m actually not sure what my RL could do to motivate me, other than keep things positive. I respond much better to comments like “the add control was good, we’re doing well, just keep it up” than to “why can’t you idiots get out of the fire!”

    But I would guess that the best motivational techniques would vary from raid group to raid group, depending on personalities. I would guess that figuring out what works for your group is one of the more difficult tasks of a raid lead.

    • I think yelling demoralizes a fair few people, and that you aren’t alone in that 🙂

      I would also agree that you have to figure out what works best for your team – which is probably why people make a fortune on the topic of motivation! If only we could bottle it and sell it, right?! 🙂

  6. I have recently struggled with this, two weeks ago I was at a total loss as to how to get my team progressing. I normally try to accentuate the positive but after two weeks and no new boss kills I was at the end of my rope… so I told everyone that if an individual caused a wipe I was going to charge them 500g for the rest of the raid’s repair bills. I didn’t end up doing it but the next week on our first pull we went to ten percent on where we had only seen sixty before.

    Honestly though, I think the biggest motivator for my group is when I say ‘Alright guys, this is our last pull of the night’, a number of our big kills happened that way – Putricide, Sindy, LK – our first kill happened at the end of the night when we were all tired and even had been making mistakes up until that point.

  7. Honestly, I wouldn’t appreciate or likely tolerate being yelled at over vent. If I had knowingly signed up for some world first progression server, the expectations might be set differently, I’d know going in it was likely to be filled with hardasses.

    But as a motivation strategy for a regular guild? Heck no. I don’t think it’s ever really appropriate to yell in anger into open vent.

    That’s not to say it’s never happened, there have been some midraid melt downs between friends where of course everyone later apologised and moved on, but often it wasn’t due to wiping although the wiping may have served as a partial instigator.

    I think if you need to yell; do it off mic and don’t push that talk key until you’re good and ready. A better strategy I think if you want to go for the, ‘I’m usually very calm but right now I’m super pissed and can’t take much more’ message across is to call the run early.

    You don’t even have to sound mad or irritated while doing it. Just be awl, ‘We had a good attempt or two earlier, but it’s clear we’ve lost our focus for the night. Let’s call this tonight rather than cost everyone gold, time and nerves, and come back prepared tomorrow (or whenever).’

    Much more effective and cuts the source of your irritation out for a bit. Of course, can’t be used too often, but it’s still a better substitute to yelling, imho.

    • Do not mistake “yelling at the raid” with telling people they are terrible, bad or any such thing. It’s more “guys – get your shit together, there is no excuse for this level of performance”. It is never personal. Also do not mistake “yelling at the raid” with the inability to vent out frustrations without pushing the mic button. Believe me, there is plenty of that. We are generally pretty calm and laid back as far as most things go – but sometimes “staying calm” isn’t working as an effective motivator. I think any leader will tell you that sometimes the stick is equally as effective as the carrot – and needs to be used. It’s more a matter of when it’s appropriate to use, and when it’s necessary to use.

      The question is more one of what to do when the raid needs a focus push and motivator – not one of me being incapable of controlling my temper. They two very different things.

      We don’t yell often – but I won’t say it doesn’t happen.

      That being said, I also don’t consider us a “regular” guild. We aren’t a world first guild – but our focus is progression. Part of progression is being accountable for your performance and showing up on raid night ready to perform. We absolutely will hold people’s feet to the fire if they aren’t performing.

      • *nod* If you’re set out as a progression guild then so be it. I think to some people have agreed to have their feet put to the fire, as you say, just by consenting to agree in such a setup.

        I wasn’t mistaking yelling at the raid for individual calling outs either, I was imagining more along the lines of, ‘FUUU! FFS, GET IT THE F TOGETHER!’ type yelling. If it’s more akin to, ‘Guys – get your shit together,…’ then eh.

        I think that’s pretty par for the course. I don’t know how motivating it is though. Typically when a raid group has lost their focus/mojo for the night, everyone already knows it. Saying it is redundant and perhaps even runs counter to your intent.

        Finding a way to pick the raid up rather than further dump on them might work better if it’s a general raid wide funk. If it’s individual people doing the same bad shit over and over though; that’s entirely different.

        That calls for a quick time out for ‘Officer talk time’, whereby an officer (or more, if can invite them to a channel for the whole grill setup) talks with this person.

        Because as crappy as it might be to get called; your raid morale as a whole will suffer if everyone sees bads get in week after week without a word.

      • Maybe it’s just because you aren’t intimately familiar with my guild or our policies or know that I’ve been in guild leadership for over six years now – and that lack of knowledge coupled with the tenor of your commentary has me defensive 🙂

        So I think I will probably refrain from responding much past this: we have an entire forum dedicated to analyzing each raid where performance is broken down and analyzed. We also build our guild on a foundation of believing that everyone should be given the chance and opportunity to improve and learn – and that is pretty important to us.

      • *hug*

        I should have been more clear in that I already realised that if people were sticking around and raiding with you week in and week out, that whatever your stance on the occasional yell, you’re doing enough right and people like you well enough to stick around.

        I figured it sort of went without saying, but looking back at my first comment in particular I can certainly see why it might put your (or anyones) back up.

        I still stand by the original stance I put forward on the matter of yelling and I don’t think it’s either effective or appropriate (although as I also said, appropriateness is also built by expectation of the guild ‘type’ and for a more heavily progress orientated guild, might not only be considered alright but expected) but…! For all that, I don’t think you’re doing a bad job all around, as much as it is possible for me to have an opinion on that not being a raider under you. 🙂

  8. I could never get away with yelling in Nocturne. We’re too much of a communist paradise that nobody, not guildmaster or raid leader or anyone, has that kind of position.

    I generally bitch at people in my usual griping manner and take solace in the gloomy but steadfast words of our officer-rogue. After he talks, I feel better and it seems others do too.

  9. We are currently progressing Nefarian, hoping to down him this week. The first day of real tries we got him to 20% by the end of the night. People focused, we managed to time interrupts, healing was good, and all we needed was for the add tank to practice a bit. The next day however, progress from the night before seemed to never have happened. People missed their cc marks, healers lost tanks, Ony wasn’t turned around, Crackle timing was bad, interrupts kept missing, people got stuck in the lava, and after two hours we had not even gotten past the first few seconds of phase 2.

    So I got annoyed. I feel like most raids and through wipes I tend to keep calm. I might sound annoyed, but I do keep calm. For me to say “Ok, get a grip, sort interrupts and focus the healing.” Is a common way of just letting everyone know what went wrong on the last pull. This time however I realised we needed to get our focus back. So I called a break.

    We used to call them “Dance-breaks” before, as our holy priest liked to dance a bit to bring her focus back, and I think that is a brilliant way to shake of the bad wipes.

    A 5-10 min break can be VERY effective. If the entire raid actually steps away from the computer. No alt tabbing, no jumping around or chatting in whispers. Step away from the screen, stand, move around, dance, get a drink, hug your cat, play the piano. Just do something other than staring at the screen. It completely resets the focus, brings back energy and the will to actually down the boss.

    Now we didn’t manage a kill, but we did get to 18% on the next try;)

  10. Beru, this is a fantastic post, it really got me thinking about the dynamics of our raid. I need to digest things a bit more, maybe write my own post about it – but this is certainly an issue I have struggled with for a long time, and you’re right, not something which can be easily analysed or solved. Thanks again for some great food for thoughts.

  11. Sorry for the delayed response but I only just read the post and it’s a topic I’m very interested in myself.

    As mentioned by one of the other commenters, breaks are vital. Not just when you start to wipe badly, but in general. In my current guild we take a 5 minute break every hour (when most people’s flasks run out), and this seems to work really well as people can go and recharge, or gem their new gear and get back to focusing on the boss at hand. Previous guilds only took one break each night – which may have been 10 minutes in the middle of a 4 or 3.5 hour raid. This is pretty common but in my opinion wasn’t ideal, as people were always begging for a break or to end the raid early. If you think about it, it is pretty weird for a human being to sit still at a computer for over an hour – even when I’m at work (I’m a programmer) I step away from my computer more frequently than that.

    To the question of yelling though…

    I’ve experienced various raid leadership styles, all for 8 months or more each, and I honestly believe that yelling is not necessary to be a good leader. You can yell and be a good leader, or you can never yell and be a good leader, but to be a great leader what you really need is passion.

    What a leader displays is what the followers will be infected with and will mirror – this is the same in any leadership role, wow related or not. If the leader is enthusiastic and passionate then the team will be the same, and this results in the best performance. Hours of wiping can dull the enthusiasm of anyone, so I can certainly understand why some leaders get frustrated and resort to yelling, and if that’s the best they can muster at the time it’s certainly better than being blasé and not appearing to care at all, because you don’t want your team to not care. At least yelling displays some form of passion. But if the raid leader can manage to maintain their own enthusiasm and others can hear that in their voice, that will have the best outcome.

    I’m currently in a guild that is led this way, and it’s the best guild I’ve ever been in, in terms of enjoyment. The leaders are constantly enthusiastic and the raiders are infected with the same enthusiasm. The atmosphere on vent is friendly and lively no matter how many hours we wipe on the same boss. It leads you to enjoy the game more and to like the officers and the guild more and want to do your best – you’re motivated.

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