Thursday, April 16, 2015

4.34. The Difference Between a Guild and a Business

Syrophenikan assists Cheeseus's 10-Man, Juicebox Bandits,
in killing 12 aberrations within 10 seconds,
Blackwing Descent

The Wrong Man for the Job

The first order of business was to contact Riskers. As Herp Derp's Tactician, it was up to him to maintain order, ensure that group was playing well together, and communicate any team deficiencies to me for recruitment purposes. Most of all, the Tactician was there to keep a close eye on the behavior of the group, corralling any ill intent. The common sense rule had been violated far too often.

Maybe I should have been more up front with Cheeseus and the members of Eh Team, back in Wrath. "This thing that you are doing is actually in direct violation of the guild rules and you are not to do that anymore." Seems silly and pointless; it is neither. Tacticians had clearly defined marching orders: Ensure your team stays within the boundaries outlined by this guild. You are responsible for your team's behavior. If they misbehave, it falls to you to resolve.

That's a lot for a team lead to shoulder, but was necessary in order for me to stay directly connected to DoD's extremities, especially when said 10-Man teams tended to keep to themselves. Those with more obstinate, cynical personalities required the closest scrutiny: they ran the risk of devolving into a burgeoning echo chamber, amplifying each other's resentment.

Things got off to a bad start.

Guildies privy to Ben's shenanigans unleashed a shaming campaign on the boards, shutting down his troll-like antics, dismissing anything Ben had to say. Beyond the internet acronyms and badly constructed thoughts, Ben had little to contribute to the conversation. But Ben had a few friends left in DoD and they rallied behind him...

...namely, Riskers.

Riskers was one of the former 25-Man progression players who chose to step down in favor of the 10s at the advent of Cataclysm. But, he didn't contribute an alt to the 25 in his off-hours (as some 10s did). The side-effect was a lack of awareness around Ben's events unfolding the night I hellbanned him from Vent.

Lacking this context, Riskers made a move not entirely unsurprising, immediately going to bat for Ben, his friend and teammate. Forum Karma spiked up and down as guild members sided with either Herp Derp or "the authority" before I even had a chance to get online and corner him.

"Wait, something happened with Ben?"

"I would definitely consider it 'something', Riskers."

I revealed the drama-soaked story to Herp Derp's Tactician, and waited to see how he'd respond. Riskers' tune completely changed. No longer defensive, he expressed genuine concern for the livelihood of the guild. As he learned of Ben's transgressions and Drecca's lackluster problem-solving skills, I could tell that an uncomfortable realization was setting in: he had been a fool on the boards.

As Hanzo examines his alt, Syrophenikan,
Gunsmokeco discovers Dadsdeath's guild,

Damage Control

"God, I'm really, really sorry about this. I had no idea."

"It's over and done. Let's move forward and solve this."

"Should I delete the posts?"

Part of me wanted him to reply to the thread, stating he was now aware of the larger narrative that needed addressing. By doing so, he'd have an opportunity to apologize to the guild for being so defensive. But, it would also mean leaving the initial thread (and attacks) as a permanent public record of Riskers' inability to handle "his" team with any degree of leadership. There was the possibility of excising the individual posts themselves -- a tactic Dalans frequently employed…

Quit doddling and make a decision.

"Nix the posts."

He did as instructed, then sought direction for next steps.

"Should I try to get them to come back?"

I chuckled. Like that will ever happen.

"Y'know, Riskers, I'm not opposed to hearing them out. If you feel like you can get a conversation going between us, I’m willing to give them an ear. I actually don't think this is beyond repair, but that first step is going to be tough. Both Drecca and Ben need to take responsibility for their poor decision making, and I have a feeling that's going to be a tough sell. But DoD is not their doormat."

Riskers agreed, and assured me he would do what he could to convince them to see the error of their ways. Before he left Ventrilo, I gave him a parting thought.

"If you can't convince them otherwise, you may need to start considering the alternative: dropping them entirely from the team, and putting a new tank and ranged in their place. It would suck to have to do that; it's never fun to boot people from a team that jells. But if they continue to remain defiant in the belief that they're right and I'm wrong, there's potential for them to do some serious damage to the morale of that team. It could even result in a mass exodus. I'd hate for that to happen, as there are still good people in that team – present company included."

Riskers thanked me for the advice, heading off to an alien vent server, to see what he could repair.

He's "really sorry about this"? What kind of a team lead is he? Why wasn't his very first decision to come to us immediately to figure out why Ben was being attacked, instead of creating more of a mess for us to clean up?

Because he was the wrong man for the job. Riskers didn't earn Tactician, nor want it. He was get the guild leader out of someone's face, so that more important things could be tended to.

Syrophenikan assists members of DoD in tricking
Lady Naz'jar to kill one of her own minions,
Throne of the Tides

Keeping the Pieces

With clears of Blackwing Descent and Bastion of Twilight still freshly under our belt, Blain was not yet ready to push the team into Heroic 25s. Many of the normals had proven to be complex, demanding nearly heroic-like skills to execute with any consistency. An early push could certainly end in disappointment. I trusted Blain, now in his seventh year with the guild, who had long proven his innate ability to read the roster and determine if the gear, skill and mindset was competent to stand a raid trial. Blain had accrued a few days vacation, back in the real world, and said we would discuss heroics further when he returned.

In the meantime, Jungard fronted raid leadership for the 25 in Blain's absence, while I stuck to my raid roster micromanagement. It was a day-to-day effort, checking with each 10-Man's Tactician, working out who was locked and who wasn't -- dealing with last minute emergencies, and finding any filler possible that could play the role needed. And even though class shouldn't have mattered, it did. Just as the Paladin (or Warrior) vs. Death Knight tanking kit demonstrated superiority in encounters like Nefarian, other classes brought (or left) significant favor when joining the 25-Man. We did what we could, and farmed the content dry, bleeding bosses for any semblance of upgrade to anyone and everyone that participated.

I took care to step over the cracks in the sidewalk, but put on a good face to keep the negative vibes at bay, opting instead to vent my frustrations to folks like Cheeseus over IM. I ranted to my Wrath-era raid leader about how difficult Blizzard had made things this time around, how their "good intentions" had left me with a lot of extra paperwork, and how more difficult raids with no better reward only caused guildies to see the 'exit' sign that much clearer.

Every week there was a new guildy issue on hand. Soot was proving less available than originally intended, keeping me shackled to a tanking role more frequently than I would have liked. One of the shining stars, Ignismortis the warlock, withdrew his Samurai app, citing personal circumstances that unfortunately stood in the way of the the responsibilities expected of the role. It felt grim, and the only way to keep that feeling at bay was to recruit -- keep that steady flow of raider material coming through the front door, in the hopes that we'd land some significant contributors that were in this for the long haul.

In the back of my mind, the Drecca / Ben fiasco lingered. I wanted desperately to put it out of my mind. You lose people. It happens. You put measures in place to plan for situations like this. Forget it and move forward. But I couldn't.

The Sentras of the world bitched about how I ran DoD like a business; an observation that is grossly oversimplified (to him, it simply meant following rules). But there is one way running a guild will never be like a business, and is too easy for a guild leader to lose sight of. You don't choose who you work with, but you do choose who you game with: you work with colleagues, but you game with friends.

When people leave your company, it's time to move on to bigger, better things; a grand new opportunity. When people leave your guild, it's inherently personal. Feeling betrayed is natural, if you consider it a friendship someone walks away from. That's the part that makes guild leadership the most difficult, or any kind of leadership, for that matter. Which is probably why Riskers wasn't up for the task, or wasn't thinking on those terms. Only crazy people volunteer for this kind of work.

I pondered the next possible 'betrayal'. Would it be someone unaware of the events unfolding in DoD, or someone intimately aware of what was going on? Would he be someone that would side with Drecca and Ben out of stubbornness and immaturity, or would he be someone more likely to choose the path more convenient and secure? Would he be someone I trusted, someone with legitimate concerns I wasn't addressing...or would he be more likely to lie to my face when I put him on the spot? Would he even tell me the truth, even after this all came crashing down?

To respond to all these questions, I say to you, loyal reader:

What makes you think it was a ‘he’?


GabrielMobius said...

Argh I think this cliffhanger got spoiled (slightly) for me because I was reading the Discourse stuff too much. That said, I still don't know what the 'betrayal' in this case was, but I think I know whodunit.

As ever, eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Shawn, welcome back, and thanks for the post.

As always, well written, looking forward to the 'she' factor.

I'm hoping it's not Blain in drag, but...


klocker2003 said...

Its not 'Blain in drag', we simply refer to it as 'Blain'.

Fred said...

Isn't Blain always in drag?