There are no two words better calculated to send a shiver of fear through any guild leader. It denotes misery and frustration, and regardless of cause or effect the guild suffers. How much? Well, that depends…
Let’s take a minute to revisit what a guild is. A guild is a formalized grouping of players who generally like playing together, and who at least theoretically have the same goals. As I said in an earlier post, many guilds shatter by trying to be all things for all players. It’s one of the sources of Guild Drama.
See, if you step back and simplify, all GD becomes simply two players not agreeing with each other, and the disagreement gets long and loud enough that other players take sides. Not necessarily the side of either of the players — “A pox on them both,” isn’t that uncommon.
So… what can you do about it? What can you do to reduce the dissension and disagreement and trouble to the guild? It depends, of course.
If you’re “just” one of the other guild members, stay out of it. That’s not easy, and as noted it may be seen as taking a third side. But there’s already enough grief going on – your absence from the furor will be more helpful than you’d believe. A caveat here… if you’re a witness to certain behavior you should tell your guild leader. What certain behavior? Well… if you have guild rules and a guild member – one of those causing the problems – is violating them, that’s behavior to report. OK, none of us like being a snitch. But…
Remember rule one. We’re supposed to be having fun – this is a game. While I just said what Guild Drama is, I didn’t say why it’s a Big Deal. Basically, guild drama ruins the fun of a lot of people. Likewise, you’ve agreed to the guild rules because you believe it will enhance your fun. What XX is doing by violating the rules is decreasing the fun of you and your guildmembers. You’re not saying, “he’s being bad punish him”. You’re saying, “Hey, XX is making the game less fun for us.”
And that brings us to XX. If YOU are one of the causes of the guild drama, take a moment of self-reflection. If it’s because you’re chafing under the rules, maybe you need another guild. If it’s because the other member is ruining your fun, however — and in the end most GD comes from exactly this root cause — then you need to talk to the guild leader. Because it may be as “simple” as personal dislike – tone of the voice, choice of phrase, or something else that’s just, well, that causes you to wish that person would AT LEAST find another server, if not another game. Or it may be something that’s extremely pertinent to the guild. Regardless, it’s time to talk to the guild leader, Sure, it could be another guild officer and perhaps will start there, but eventually it’s going to come to the GL’s time.
And that, of course, takes us to the person who has the hard job. Because the majority of the time, GD means someone is leaving the guild – voluntarily or by being kicked. And far too often, it’s never one person who leaves.
Look, as a boss in real life I will tell you that few things give me more sleepless nights than employee discipline. Yes, sometimes it’s easy, but most of the time not only is nobody perfect but the employee does have a lot of redeeming qualities. And it’s a fact that – just like in the game – discipline does impact the whole workplace. Guild Drama in Real Life. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at our volunteers – our members who are in confrontation with one another.
The first thing to do is review your guild rules. The reality is that few guilds have written rules at all, and those that do tend to have major weaknesses in regard to this sort of thing. Even so, reviewing so much as oral traditions will help in preparation. At a minimum, review the objectives of the guild. Raid? BG? Arenas? Leveling? Whatever it is/they are, get them in mind. Take a moment to remember rule one, too – you’re doing this to maximize “fun” for the guild members. Now with that in mind, take a look at your miscreants.
Are either of them working against the rules? Are both of them? If so, they’re candidates for removal. I recommend you use some real-world rules here, however — do NOT kick them immediately unless (a) your rules say you will or (b) the behavior is so flagrantly offensive that the rest of the guild stands united in opposition to one (or both) of the offenders. Instead of an immediate kick, place them both on probation. Yes, both. And as to probation — a clear statement of what behavior will bring them in front of you again, the consequence of such behavior, and a time at which the probation will end. “Do [this] again anytime in the next three weeks and I will /gkick you.” Use a simple management trick: send an in-game mail with the probation ruling, and require that they copy, paste, add “I agree”, and return reply. It isn’t going to be used as proof down the road, though that’s where you see it in the real world. What you don’t see – but which is the other real good reason – is that it nails down the issue in the mind of the recipient. There’s just this mental difference between verbal and written word that seems to matter – as though the effort has a weight of its own.
But all that’s the end-state. As I said, you as guild leader have to look at the whole situation. You’re balancing competing definitions of fun. It’s possible that you can talk both players to reduction of hostilities without the penultimate (and ultimate) acts – threat of and actual /gkicking them. This is usually the best solution – note please the word “usually”. Still, it’s a serious test of your skills as a manager of volunteers. And I’m going to tell you that you won’t like the test and won’t like the result regardless of how it turns out. Not most of the time, anyway. There are those bright shining moments…
So you dealt with the miscreants. Good. You’re not done, leader. See, it’s Guild Drama, and one of the things that happened is that Other Players got drawn in. So now that you’ve dealt with the core problem you have a PR dance to do. And regardless of what you do, you’ll have players both satisfied and unsatisfied. You have to tell the other players something to let them know this issue has been dealt with, but at the same time you don’t want to embarrass the miscreants. There is a gray area in there where any single line is sometimes not enough and sometimes too much. Know this, do your best, and accept when it’s “wrong”. For what it’s worth, a guide-line: Tell everyone that there was an issue involving two people that was disrupting the guild, and that action has been taken. Do not tell the action. Whether to announce or keep secret who the people are/were and what the issue was will depend – most predominately on how many guild-members were involved and so know anyway.
In the end, remember that the reason for the guild is so a bunch of players have more fun. And that bunch of players includes you. Yes, we all have to do some not-fun stuff to have more fun later, and you’ve chosen to make “guild” part of that. Just… don’t let the not-fun overwhelm the fun, ok? Hopefully this article will help with that little thing, but again I’ll recommend looking in the library as well as on the internet – look for material on managing volunteers. Trust me, it’ll help.
So you can have more fun at this game.