Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Officer Structure

So most of you (hopefully) will have read the issues my guild has seen in the last few weeks by reading the post a couple down from here.

The TL;DR version is that I lost 17(ish) main raiders from a team of about 35 within 3 weeks, effectively neutering any progression dreams for HToC. There were 2 parts to the solution to this issue; one was finding a guild to raid with (which we did, and will be a post or several unto itself) the other was a complete overhaul of processes and structure within the guild. I will look at the latter in this post.

What was the issue, NER?
I had let the guild ideal slide a little when my partners in crime retired over 6 months ago. I initially had 2 other people I ran the guild with - so there were 3 people at the top making decisions. If one of us went away (for example I went on a holiday to the US for 4 weeks last year) I simply handed GL over to one of my trusted group and there were no issues with guild maintenance.

So, I was running the guild on my own. All the officers had no redundancy and were dealing with their jobs on their own. I made the mistake of assuming that was an ok situation and people were fine with it. They weren't, but they all just suffered in silence. One exploded and emoquit. One went horde one weekend with "no warning" (I had expected that one however, and had a backup plan in place already) and 2 retired. Myself and Hairy were left pretty much solo (although the 2 retirees were holding off to handover properly to the new guys, which was nice).

What steps did you take to fix it?
I sat back, and the first thing I did was take stock of how we got to the situation we were in. Doing that means you can identify the issues and take steps to mitigate them in the future. The issues were briefly as follows:
1) no redundancy in any position
2) burnout
3) cynicism due to burn out
4) literal lack of bodies in the guild raiding team
5) lack of loyalty

So, how do you address these issues in a volunteer organisation? It isn't like you have wages to hold people over a barrel with, you have... um... yeah. That. You know what I mean. That thing. mmmm. Oh, Je ne sais quoi!

I think point 3 was the most damaging, I'd do a flow chart, but it isn't Friday. As people were burning out (officers were the main culprits for this) they cared less for going above and beyond and settled back into a routine of doing the minimum they had to to get by. This left a lot of the work on my shoulders. I didn't mind, I love doing it, but it wore me down and I got caught up in the problems of burnout and cynicism being projected by the dying leadership team.

I know I am like a mirror. If the people around me are up, I am bouyed by the attitude and reflect it x10. If people are down, I am down too. Admittedly, that is just human nature, but in a micro world of an MMORPG this becomes focussed and amplified. It pays to keep that in mind when dealing with people (it also explains why people emoquit or nerdrage and examining the idea of it probably has an entire PhD or two in psychology!).

So, people left... the officers stepped down.  What I needed was replacement officers, and the type I needed were new, fresh faces with enthusiasm and loyalty.  Apparently, I manage to attract people who are pretty damn awesome to surround myself with.  Within a week I had people volunteering to do whatever it takes to get us running again.  This was so gratifying it was crazy.  My plan for restructure was as follows:

2 Raid Leaders/strategists
2 Healer team leads
2 Ranged team leads
2 Melee/tank leads
1 10man officer
1 Webmaster (Wow account inactive, but honorary officer position)

You might think that is a lot of officers - and for a smallish guild, it is.  But take into account the extra work you have to put in if you are doing things solo.  Previously I had one in each of those positions (in fact, I was doing GL and Healer lead for some time) and the Ranged lead was also in charge of loot.  The melee lead was the MT, and the RL was writing all the strats.  That is just too much extra work for people who are supposed to be relaxing and having fun.

We are also not a smallish guild.  We have over 130 active accounts in the guild (not toons, accounts) that need managing, so having more in the leadership team eases the strain on everyone, and more people can enjoy themselves!

So, that is the officer structure.  The officers all have jobs - they are responsible for managing their team, working with each other to create the best group of people they can for each raid night.  They help plan our guild direction, they help organise guild functions and are generally expected to lead by example.

In another post, I will talk about the importance of a good website and a good front page blog for building community and communication within the guild going.

I also recently reinstated a group of people I treat like the board of directors.  These are my redundancy.  In fact, the 2 officers that "retired" are the two people I chose to help me run the guild.  Don't get me wrong, these are the people that didn't leave me in the lurch, they were just burned out.  They love our guild probably as much as I do and will do whatever it takes to keep it going.  These two people will be the ones I turn to when I don't know how to answer a question, or what to do when an officer throws me a curly one, or who the GUILD can go to in my stead - ie I'm not there, or I am the issue.

So we now have a process flow and up and down flows of communication for most if not all guild members.
GLs (direction, goals, long term planning)
Officers (enactment of GL goals, slap GLs when they make dumb decisions, speak to and for the guild members)
Members (duh, bread and butter of the guild. No members, no guild!)

And yeah, that's how I restructured everything.  Thus far, it seems to be working.  There is one issue that needs ironing out (we have too many healer officers, stupid awesome healer team) but I think that we will come to a solid solution there.