This post is a bit piecemeal. It is a collection of ideas and thoughts that have been jumping around in my head for the last few days, but I have not been able to beat them into any cohesive format. So, in the end, I relented and just got them out of my brain in hopes that writing them down means I can get the issues sorted out before tonight's reset raid.
Morale is a finiky issue to deal with. And often, morale begins at home.
The best thing as a raid leader or guild leader to do for keeping morale up is to keep your own morale up. Your guild is like a mirror, and they will reflect and amplify whatever you are feeling right back at you. So if you are feeling a bit down, they will be downright miserable. If you are pumped, they will be as well. If you feel a bit out of control, your raid will be unmanageable.
Recently, our guild has been plagued with issues beyond their control - computer melt downs, ISP asplosions, random DC issues, RL emergencies. So much so that it has stopped us progressing for about 3 weeks. We have not been able to get a solid stable raid together. There are a few things we have done to combat this. One is recruit hard. We have been trialling and recruiting some new blood. This will mean one step back for what will hopefully be two or three forward. However, the one step back is reflecting back on the current guildies morale.
We are back to people not signing up. We are combating this, again, with recruitment. The officers have lost patience with baby sitting - to move forward we need people who are reliable (this does not mean people who have told us they need a break, or have RL reasons for taking time off).
But what about mid raid, when you are face planting against a boss? There is not a lot you can do except take a break. Having regularly scheduled breaks in your raid help - which is often why I love trash (and am a bit concerned at its lack in ToC). Trash means brain restart. More than once we have had respawns, recleared then downed a new boss. No trash makes this much harder to do.
So, your options are to leave the boss and come back to it later or go do something completely different.
Another thing to do is offer the carrot. If you are in the position to, then open up the guild bank to pay for repairs. Personally, I send my guildies an amount of money proportional to my repairs in the mail after a big night of wipeage. This encourages people to turn up as it wont hit them too hard personally in the pocket. I have actually been remiss in doing this lately and need to start it up again. I might try something new, and actually TURN ON repairs half way through the raid, to let people use the gbank. This requires you to set up your ranks properly, however.
Judging the mood of a raid is difficult sometimes. Knowing how to manage it is even harder. At some point when the coffee kicks in, I will write about how to structure a raid to get the most out of your raiders.
Sometimes, a raids morale benefits from a swift kick in the pants. "You guys need to shape up, you are failing hard and I know you can do better. Show me your stuff" kind of challenging speeches can go a long way. These speeches are hard to pull off, but if you can tell people they are doing badly, yet, at the same time keep the tone uplifting and constructive, you will be amazed at the results. This comes with practise as well. Try writing out some speeches and practise reading them. Record yourself and play it back. Learn how to use your voice to empower, not demean. Use some of the tricks in this blog post by scrusi. He nails much of what you need to do to keep your raid running smoothly and if not happily, then at least efficiently.
The other thing you need is at least 2 people running the raid. One is your technical raid leader - they run the strat, they organise the people, they get the boss down. The other person is where this blog post is aimed. This person is often the guild leader or another non raid leading officer. They are in charge of herding kittens, getting the right numbers in the instance, getting everyone moving and keeping the morale in the raid up, they may also be in charge of standbys and loot distribution. Play off each other, there is much to be said for good cop, bad cop. Work out beforehand who is taking what role and run with it.
I hope this gives you some ideas on how to deal with morale. There are no black and white answers to this question and it varies from guild to guild even from day to day within a guild. The best thing you can do is be actively aware of the morale in your guild and be open about trying to keep people motivated. Sometimes yelling helps, and sometimes it doesn't. Not everything is roses, but not everything is fertiliser either.