Comings and Goings

June 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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I’m in a special guild.  No, we don’t wear bicycle helmets all the time (though some may), but I think we are unique in who we are.  We will have been around for two years next month and I’m always amazed at the stability and consistency we’ve had throughout that time.  We’ve had the same GM the entire time.  Five of our officers have also been here since the beginning (myself included) and many of our rank-and-file members are long timers as well.  But that’s not what sets us apart.  What does, in my estimation, is how many folks want to come back to us after they leave. 

People leave our guild, just like they do with any guild.  That’s a normal, every day thing.  What we offer as a guild does not match up with what a given player wants from a guild.  Take raiding, for instance.  We do raid regularly, but we’re not on a progression schedule.  We’ve cleared Naxx-10 and Flame Leviathan, but we haven’t done EoE or OS1-drake as a guild (yet).  We’ll get there, but it’s not our end-all be-all of existence.  And that’s what convinces some folks to leave us.  They join, run heroics and a few entry Naxx runs then leave for a full fledged ‘raiding guild’ to progress faster and to get better loot.  I’ve always wished them luck and warned them to be careful of what they wish for – they just might get it. 

But off they go to that great raiding beyond and we keep going along as we’ve always done.  Then, eventually, be it a few weeks, a few months, or even over a year in some cases, they whisper an officer or our GM and ask if they can come back.  Now, I don’t know how often this happens with other guilds, this is the only one of which I’ve been a member.  But I can’t imagine that it’s a common occurrence.  I mean, think about it – for someone to want to come back, they have to realize they’d made a mistake in leaving, and that’s a hard thing to admit.  Then they’d have to value the relationships they made in their old guild enough to swallow their pride and ask to return.  Again, that’s pretty amazing in an online environment where you only ‘know’ people through their online personas and a text window.  Finally, the guild has to be willing to give second (or more chances).  This can be very tricky, let me tell you.  It’s very easy to formalize the initial reaction of “We weren’t good enough for you then?  You’re not good enough for us now” into guild policy and burn the bridges with anyone who leaves. 

I’ll admit I somewhat lean towards that camp.  I know how special this guild is and what it offers to all it’s members and I’m protective of it.  If someone doesn’t recognize that, that’s fine, good luck and all, but don’t expect a second chance.  Fortunately, our GM is the opposite.  He always remembers that this is just a game and it’s not a big deal if someone wants a second chance.  There’s very little harm returnees can do – they don’t have access to most of our bank, and they can do a great deal of good for us.  Returnees are often the most vocal in promoting what we offer and, more importantly, in giving real examples on how the grass isn’t greener on the raiding side of the fence.  In fact, two of our officers are folks who left the guild for a time only to return. 

But it’s still hard to see people leave.  It’s hard to not take it personally for the guild.  Their leaving, in effect, tells us that we’re not good enough for them and that stings a bit.  It’s even worse when an officer leaves because they were leaders in the guild and more visible than most other members.  Plus, they had earned a higher level of trust in becoming officers.  To have them abandon that trust and go elsewhere, well, as I said, it stings.  We’ve had some people leave recently, some very good players and nice folks too.   They didn’t leave together, but they left close enough in time to create a stir in the guild (‘what’s going on?  Why is everyone leaving?’) and it puts a damper on the reaming leaders’ motivation. 

We’ve had two or three similar shakeups in our history, and those were much worse than the current situation.  But it’s good to review how to handle occasions like this. 

  1. First, it’s imperative to communicate openly with the guild and let them know what’s going on and explain the why’s and how’s as much as possible.  Frankly, this isn’t easy to do and I doubt it can be done with 100% success simply because we don’t have everyone online at the same time and not everyone follows the guild forums and the guild MOD isn’t sufficient for the purpose.  So guild leaders need to respond to questions in GC and snub misconceptions for several days.  Typically, when I see a conversation about who left and why, I step in and tell the truth, snub any false rumors, and end by mentioning some of their contributions and wishing them luck.  Something typical would be “Druidx left the guild to play with some RL friends on another server.  He wasn’t booted for last week’s raid or anything, but I think he’d been considering the move for awhile.  This is just a game and we all play it how we want.  I wish him luck as he moves on and I’ll remember how he ran HCot4 daily until everyone got the drake that wanted one.  He’s still on my friends list.”  Keep in mind that you’ll have to do this several times a day over several days as new folks log on and need to be caught up. 
  2. Communicate with the other leaders in the guild.  This is usually easier to do than step 1 since officers are on more frequently and follow the forums.  But I think it’s even more important to do quickly.  When a popular person leaves, or several players leave at once, it’s easy for an officer to question why they do all the extra work they do if folks just leave.  They need to be reassured that they didn’t do anything wrong and there is no blame.  Someone left, but we still have over 150 with us.   Let’s focus on them. 
  3. Communicate with the person who left.  Especially if they just /gquit and didn’t tell anyone why. 
  4. Examine why the person left.  Did they have an issue with the guild (i.e. they didn’t raid enough, or the bank rules were too strict)?  If so, is that something that can and should be addressed?  Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t change something just because of one person, but if the bank rules were a factor in one person’s leaving, they might be rubbing others the wrong way too.  Look them over and see if there was a legitimate gripe. 
  5. Boot all their alts.  This is a guild policy of ours – we are not an alt guild.  If we’re not good enough for your main, your alts aren’t good enough for us.
  6. Monitor your guild’s forums.  Most people leave a guild on decent terms, but some go off half-cocked and try to trash the forums or trash guildies in the forums.  If that happens, ban the account.  Some guilds don’t allow non-members to post on their forums at all.  That’s a policy decision.  We let people who have left post.  It’s actually a nice way to keep in touch. 
  7. Keep in touch with the person who left.  Again, this is a personal decision and won’t apply to everyone.  But I’ve kept many of the folks who’ve left our guild on my friends list.  We don’t chat as much as we used to, but they are a good source for PUGs.   If they were good people before they left, they’re still good people (most likely).   
  8. Fill the departed’s position.  Were they a regular raider for you?  Give their spot to someone before the next raid so you don’t skip a beat.  Were they a class leader or officer?  Promote a promising up-and-comer.  This is actually an excellent opportunity to get some fresh blood and ideas into the guild leadership – take advantage!
  9. Talk to any remaining close friends or family in the guild.  People often join a guild in bunches – you’re all rl friends, or were all part of a guild that fell apart but still want to play together.  When one leaves, everyone looks to the rest of that ‘group’ and wonder if/when they’ll leave too.  Be up front with those people and tell them you understand if they want to leave as well, but that they’d be more than welcome to stay aboard if they so choose. 
  10. Move on – keep your raid schedule rolling along with all the other events and daily minutae of the guild.  If a raid has to be skipped, try to reschedule it later int he

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