16 February 2011

BAST: When Good Guildies Go Bad

Jack at The Casual Raider wonders:
What do you do when a normally good guildmate performs poorly or behaves badly? Your rock solid tank comes to raid ungemmed, your master mage dips down into pre-cata dps numbers several nights in a row or your best healer can't seem to keep from going oom 2 minutes into any fight. What do you do? The obvious answer is shoot the hostage but...
I considered this question from a pure performance basis in a raid team that completed ICC 10m before Cataclysm's release and is now getting back into raiding the new content.  Wow, that sounds alot like MY raid team. Well, that's convenient, because you're supposed to write about what you've experienced, eh?


I'll assume one of your DPS team members isn't cutting the mustard by attacking the wrong targets, not moving out of the poop, or just simply not putting up better damage than the healers.  Maybe it's lack of gear or enhancements to the gear they have. Perhaps it's learning the new fights or even the more basic understanding of the new class mechanics. Or worse yet, maybe they just no longer care about their performance. All but the last case are solvable; in the instance of apathy, it's time to move off the team.


As soon as you talk about performance, you're talking about measuring up to a set of expectations. It's as simple as measuring to some known standard. On a progression raid team, those expectations will likely include the following:
  • know the fight mechanics for the scheduled encounter
  • know your team's planned tactics (guild forums are great for that)
  • come prepared with consumables (buff food, drink and flasks)
  • equip your PVE gear and ensure it's both enchanted and gemmed (no need for epics, blue gems are pretty cheap)
  • perform your role in the raid (Tank, Heal or DPS)
All of these expectations exist so that all 10 or 25 people are performing at maximum ability. Why? Most of these new raid bosses are challenging enough where the entire team needs to be on their game. It's not ICC at level 85 where you can waltz through with 7 people and clean up achievements. One person's lack of performance will -- at least on my team -- ensure a failed attempt.  Other raids that have more kills and better gear could probably get away with allowing a poor performer to coast through. We don't have that luxury. So, at least for us, failure to come prepared will directly impact the success of the team. In a raid, a single player's impact at least 9 other people. By extension, those choices have more meaning than they do in solo play.

Failure to conform to the expectations requires an adjustment. If the player can't see that for themselves, they need to be confronted about it.


If you've never had to confront someone, that first time will be difficult. It can be especially difficult to tell a friend "You're just not cutting it."But, if it's done constructively, the player has the opportunity to improve. Sometimes, people need a pep talk (and good performance confrontations can serve to be exactly that). It it all goes horribly wrong, then yes feelings will be hurt and you could lose a team member from the raid.

What I've found best in my life is taking an honest yet tactful approach. You're criticizing someone; it's harsh enough without needing to berate them, so keep it to the point and keep it neutral. You also need a factual basis in order to point out flaws. We're aiming for Constructive Criticism, not a nerd rage meltdown. Your observations should be based on fact, not opinion.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you rather hear "Lately, you suck. Learn to play the new game!" That's critical, but not of any real value. Compare that to "Your DPS isn't up to what it was before, and we need the entire raid's DPS to increase to beat the enrage timer. Do you have any ideas on changes you might make to improve your contribution?"  The second example still points out an issue, but it doesn't put the other person down at all.

For an equipment problem, a simple "Hey, you really need to at least gem your gear with blue or even green gems. The extra +30 will add up." is so much better than "C'mon! Get your stuff gemmed!" If it's item level, offer to help run heroics. Sitting in a 45 minute queue as a DPS to only get berated by jerk-offs is not a fun prospect. Running with a group of guildies, though, is a whole different story.

For fight mechanics, instead of "Look it up on Google!", use "Shermanator posted a nice summary of tactics in the guild forums. Would you review those and if you have any questions let someone know before the raid?"


This is what's missing from bad confrontations: you just kicked a friend in their privates. Acknowledge that it can be hard to hear, but that you want to help them. Acknowledge their feelings. It can be painful to be told you're screwing up. Something like "Listen, I know this is hard, but I need to tell you a few things where I think you could improve your performance. You'll have more fun when you're back on top of the charts and we're getting epics."

Finally, allow them a moment to absorb and offer an opportunity for them to ask refining questions. Give them a chance to take it all in and respond.

Oh, and dare I even need to point out that this will spare hard feelings if done privately in whispers? Doing this in guild chat or raid chat is publicly humiliating. It's inflammatory and serves no purpose other than nerd rage.  Just don't do it.

When you're confronting a guildmate, you're usually confronting a friend. Friends have mutual respect for each other, and friends can argue and recover from those arguments as long as nothing to hateful pops up during the heat of the moment. When it's necessary, and when it's done with respect, a confrontation should result in either an improvement or the graceful stepping aside for another team member to fill the raid slot.  When done poorly, DRAMA enters... And I exit.