Officers: A Guide

Copied from the guide originally written by Aerte.

I would like to preface this post with some information about myself and my guild, Blackrock Legends.

BRL was started as a raid guild and never went through the “small guild syndrome” where only 5-6 people were in the guild at one time. We’ve always been fairly large sized and more or less able to raid. We have gone through two very successful mergers and maintain a fairly decent population of raiders. BRL also has several contacts within similar sized guilds and a support structure of larger guilds who lend us a helping hand when needed.

That said, almost all of my guild experience stems from large guild association and raid mentality. I have been part of smaller guilds but find my interest to learn and grow inspires me to steadily head towards new content. Not that I mean to imply I have ever guild-hopped or deserted a guild in favor of bigger and better things. This information is important only in that it has helped shape what I look for in potential Officers, or choosing one from a list of candidates.

Again, Blackrock Legends is a raiding, PvE focused guild. This post is crafted from that perspective and it may differ slightly for PvP and RP focused guilds.


When looking for an Officer, I begin with a list of qualities I believe an Officer should embody or strive to achieve. I look at various facets of their personality, performance, abilities, virtues, and vices. It is very important for me to find their strengths as well as their flaws. Being able to place people in a role where their strengths will be utilized and their weaknesses are irrelevant will be pivotal for success. Not everybody has the ability to lead raids, just as not everyone will have the ability to write clear-cut policy, or to maintain a website. Finding the right person for the job will not only save your sanity as a Guild Master, but will ultimately benefit the guild in numerous ways.

The List

1. Leadership

• Does this person take initiative to lead others?
• If so, what is their general style?
• Are they laid back or militant?
• Can they get a group organized and moving forward in the right direction?
• Does this person have a firm and accurate handle on ALL guild policies, rules, regulations, and the penalties associated with them?
• Can I reasonably expect this person to have the ability to fully explain any guild policy, rules, or regulations to members upon request?

2. Respect

• When this person speaks or gives advice, do people listen to them?
• Do the members respond positively or negatively to this person?
• When asking for help, do the members rally around him/her to complete the task?

3. Communication

• As the GM, can I speak to this person professionally?
• Can I speak to them as a friend as well?
• Does this person understand that there are dynamics to the guild they will need to be understanding of?
• Can they be left alone to handle problems if they arise?
• Do they speak to the members as well as for the members?
• Can I count on them to be behind me as the GM in public, even if we disagree in private?
• Will they take part in active discussions about the guild, advancement, and ways in which to improve?

4. Commitment

• Do they have the stamina to keep up with guild demands?
• Do they realize Officers actively give to their members before taking for themselves?
• Do they know they are here for the members, and not that the members are here for them?
• Are they committed to excellence?
• Will they practice leading by example?
• Do they understand an Officer is expected to continually help improve those they lead?
• Do they understand that any member’s question is valid and deserves an answer or consideration?
• Are they willing to help no matter the time it involves?

5. Availability

• Does this person have the availability, schedule wise, to remain active with the guild and its members?
• Are they on at peak hours of the guilds time?
• If they are not, are they on during other times when various Officers cannot be?
• Do they show up for most, if not all of the guild raids?
• Are they on time and ready?

6. Flexibility

• When things go wrong, are they able to take a moment to listen to what others are suggesting?
• Can they reasonably be expected to take criticism well?
• Will they work at improving upon, and learning new ways of handling situations?
• Do they continue to ask for feedback and act upon it?
• Can I sit down and as their GM, let them know their performance is lacking and needs to be adjusted?
• Will they be able to professionally accept this type of performance review?

7. Problem Solve

• Can this person take two bickering members, figure out what is wrong, and be reasonably expected to solve or alleviate the problem to the satisfaction of both parties?
• Do they have the ability to work quickly and efficiently to curb behaviors before they become a problem?
(Both with themselves as well as members)
• Can they turn a failed raid into one which moves efficiently through content without losing moral?
• Can they take failure and then come back with ideas for improvement?

8. Complete Tasks Assigned

• If asked to accomplish a task, can this person complete the task within an acceptable time frame?
• Can I count on this person to take on tasks which is within their expertise and ability — not ones that they cannot be expected to accurately contribute too?

9. Contribute or Gather Information

• Can this person give advice to all classes, or if they don’t understand, know when it is appropriate to send the question to someone else?
• Do they actively participate in strategic discussions?
• Will they gather their own personal information for encounters and boss fights/kills?
• Can I count on them to have done the appropriate level of homework?
• Are they to be ready to explain and perform well?

10. Realistic

• Can they provide me with an account of the current situation within the guild and its ranks?
• Can I count on them to have accurate information and not sheer exaggeration?
• Will they give me feedback about my personal performance and perhaps ways in which I could improve?
• Are they understanding of the fact that being an Officer is literally a full-time job?
• Do they realize being an Officer gives them the responsibility to also work to improve the guild outside of “game play?”

Now let us take a more in-depth look at these specific categories and their relation to guild dynamics, structure, and personal fluidity. For me the two aspects that matter the most are Leadership and Communication. Without these two all others become moot points.

Leadership and Communication

What does it mean to lead? Fundamentally the definition of leading is to command or direct people. It is the ability to go before them and lead the way. In World of Warcraft you are not sitting upon a pristine white horse with banners waving and a thousand soldiers awaiting your command. The leadership in WoW varies in tactic and practice but still holds true to the common theme: you must go before them and lead the way.

Within WoW the dynamic is such that people pay to play this game, not that they are paid to play or to stay within a guild. As a leader it is important to understand that distinction because people can leave at any time, they are not bound to the guild or earning a salary as incentive. The atmosphere that the leaders perpetuate and the guild members emulate will be of utmost importance. Therefore you could infer that the Officers embody the guild as a whole and through their actions, words, and thoughts pave the way for guild growth, functionality, and happiness.

Now that you understand the weight of responsibility Officers bear, it is time to explore the quality of leadership which will define an Officer from a Member.

• Does this person take initiative to lead others?

True leaders will always give themselves away under the right circumstance. If there is a group of people who cannot, by themselves, be expected to move forward, then there is a good chance a leader will arise to take charge. In fact, this is a fairly good way to begin scouting potential Officers. Setting up “failed raids” is tedious but can be highly rewarding if you end up finding yourself a leader among the pack. Ideally what you’d be looking for is something along the lines of saying “I need to go afk, someone get the raid going” and then sitting back to see who steps up to the task.

A leader cannot actually help themselves, they will have to get into the thick of it and take charge. It can become as easy as asking various people to lead and then seeing who has the ability to, or as problematic as actually having to seek ways in which to force them to show themselves. At times a leader will perceive another leader in the pack and be complacent to take a more back-seat approach, but with a sharp eye you can still spot these people. They are the ones who are directing or coordinating tasks and timing between people. You will see them parceling out which mobs will be sheeped by whom, and which ability each person will use to achieve maximum efficiency.

Of course just as people vary, leadership styles will vary as well. The greatest of leaders is the one who combines flexibility of thinking and the rigidity and decisiveness of action. Even though WoW is a game there are still basic rules which it uses to immerse its players and force them to participate in group dynamics normally reserved for complex interactions. Here we learn new coping mechanisms that stem from the need to adapt to a virtual world where we cannot see our fellow compatriots; we cannot perceive their body language nor read the signs inherent in those actions.

Leaders in WoW only have the basic communication of text and sometimes voice interaction with their members. What they say in text does not carry a true tone and so it must be considered carefully on the notion that every word will bring with it an inflection of the readers make. Saying things such as “get over here” become a command whereas in real life the inflection could have been used to make it playful. We do not have that luxury and must maintain a conscious awareness that what is typed will most likely be perceived by three people in three different ways.

An open communication style between Officers is exceedingly important as well. Daily contact with one another will help ensure that you’re all on the same page about member issues, personal problems, guild progress, and the intrinsic nature of guild dynamics. It is madness to assume one Officer alone will be in all places to take care of all things; it simply cannot be done. Therefore multiple perceptions are needed to maintain the delicate balance between what you see and what you have overlooked. As a Guild Master I rely heavily upon my Officers to point out general issues that I myself may not be aware of. Officers are, for all intents and purposes, the Guild Masters most valuable eyes, ears, and watchdogs all rolled into one.

Leadership abilities will also vary depending on the person and their own personal expertise. It would not be wise to put someone who is of more “bookish” ability into the position to deal with member relations and guild PR. It would be a much better idea to adapt these Officers into the position of gathering strategic knowledge, formulating guild data and percentages, and maintaining that data for other Officers to reference. Similarly it would be disastrous to force an Officer who cannot speak clearly or well to lead a raid. In each of these instances the Officers can serve highly useful and completely beneficial roles within the guild and still contribute in ways which they are comfortable and equipped to.

As a general reference, I will give a small breakdown of the jobs BRL Officers partake of and their general place within the guild.

GM: In charge of writing and maintaining all policy related to the guild. Disciplinary actions are considered and acted upon.
Officer 1: Gathers and maintains useful information about topics related to member professions, resistances, spec, and current needs.
Officer 2: Leads raids, gathers information and strategies/tactics involved in current guild content.
Officer 3: Maintains the guild website and continually meets/speaks with the GM to improve functionality, availability, and visual input for this purpose.
Officer 4: Involved in more Public Relations work with hands-on approach to member problems, or concerns.
Officer 5 and 6: Like to poke GM with sharp stick! These Officers are particularly good at viewing a situation with unbiased and unclouded judgments. They can be relied on to bring up counter-points or flip-side views of any subject.

Officers have a responsibility to their members and especially to the members of their class. They are expected to follow through with every member of their class to ensure that concerns are voiced and their needs are met.

Respect, Commitment, and Availability

Realistically any person of power should have earned that right and be supported by the members they lead and the people they represent. Picking an Officer based solely on the idea of friendship or their relationship with you is ludicrous. If your guild members do not respect this person for their ability to lead, their idea of fair play, and their commitment to the guild, there will be anarchy. This can come as simple defiance or as the member refusing to take the Officer seriously and obey or listen to them; it is an unacceptable situation and unfair to both sides.

When looking for an Officer there are a few things to help point the way in the aspect of respect. First, take a hard look at how members interact with this person. Do they favor him/her with their time in game and in an effort to help out when asked or needed? Good Officers will *always* have the ability to rally members for a cause. They will know ways in which to ask people to partake of an activity and get the response needed to accumulate sufficient numbers for the task. There is no reason an Officer should not be able to gather together a 20 person raid if there are 25 people online. Allowing for some distinction of time and availability, the Officer should be able to motivate at least 20 people into forming a group.

Watch Officers (or potential Officers) for the way in which members react to their actions and words. If the overall member response is positive and enthusiastic, it is likely they enjoy interacting with this person and will allow themselves to group with and to follow them. If the response is negative or one that presents lack of care on the members’ part, this person would likely never have the support or respect to be an effective Officer. Due to the fact there is no way to force people to remain in a guild or to listen to an Officer it is particularly important that the members WANT to listen or be lead by any person who is considered for the position.

Commitment is another huge thing to consider. Running a guild, even a fairly small one, takes time, patience, and effort. If you add in 150 other people to manage, it can become overwhelming very quickly. Officers need to understand that their job is structural – they are the metal beams on which the rest of the guild builds from. If the guild were a high-rise building the GM would be the concrete foundation, the Officers a steel infrastructure, and the members the walls, rooms, and furnishings. Together it is a masterpiece of architecture, but one piece alone is simply the equivalent of raw material; useless without one another.

Guilds demand time and countless amounts of it. Officers need to be prepared for the fact that just about every moment of their time on-line is “guild time.” Even if they are playing alts they should be reachable in case of a guild emergency or outbreak of violence between members. Most of the time there is no need for an Officer to be on-line at all times, members are fairly well-behaved and generally courteous. However, it is inevitable that there will be disputes and it is an Officers duty to stop what they are doing to handle it as necessary.

Officers also need to be aware of the fact that due to their elevated position, their actions will be seen as paramount to guild overall attitude. There have been several times when an Officer who is late to a raid is told there is no available space. They are affable and understanding, therefore affirming the fact that being late will lose anyone their raid spot. When a certain item of gear drops that an Officer could use, but chooses to pass to another member, it enforces reciprocal give-and-take for the betterment of all involved. If an Officer handles a situation badly and later makes a public apology to the member they have offended, it proves that they think about their personal actions and seek to rectify any wrongs committed. Members see these examples and will begin to understand and to incorporate them into their own personal interactions and ideals – again, building on the principal that Officers are the example by which the guild lives.

Flexibility and Problem Solving

It is very important to realize that Officers are people too. They will make mistakes and fail from time to time. They are presumed to have their own lives to lead and their own goals to accomplish outside of the game. This is simply the way life goes and the learning curve is the same across all boards: we learn as we accomplish and as we fail alike. Take for example my very real experience of accidentally pulling Baron in Molten Core while teaching a fellow hunter how to pull. The entire raid was wiped and after a very sincere apology on my part, laughed it off – but I learned a very valuable lesson! Members should also learn that we are not infallible and so it makes it easier to swallow when people have their own failures or accidents.

In times of stress or indecision, often the outcome is less favorable then you would like. Looking back on how I personally handled some situations I cringe and wonder why the members are still behind me. The truth of the matter is this: I learned from my mistakes and allowed other peoples advice to help achieve the desired result. This goes for personal interactions with members as well as leadership of raids. Obviously if a strategy is not accomplishing the desired effect it is a good idea to take a step back and ask people “What do you think? What do you see? How can we get past this?” Admitting you are wrong is not a weakness if you overcome it and strengthen your character and resolve. Giving people their dues when things they suggest pan out is a wonderful way to encourage group participation.

The hallmark of a good raid leader is that they can take a realistic look at what the raid is doing or accomplishing together, and then tailor any strategy to fit that group of people’s skills and strengths. If not every Officer is a raid leader then they should still have the ability to solve problems in this way. Finding ways in which to utilize their skills and personal interactions to settle disputes is key. An Officer must be an effective negotiator. They need the ability to step back, figure out what the situation truly is based on both sides of the argument, and come up with viable options that can satisfy both parties. Of course this not always possible and again, discretion and judgment will be main factors.

Completing Tasks, and Gathering Information

Because one person cannot feasibly run a medium-to-large sized guild alone it becomes incredibly important that all people of authority work together to accomplish goals. This means that if an Officer is asked to contribute in some way, they do so with efficiency and within an acceptable time frame. It is NOT acceptable for an Officer to take three months to update an important guild document, or to fix erroneous coding in the guild webpage. Though there may be exceptions such as family emergencies that keep an Officer from completing their assigned task, it not tolerable for an Officer to simply “forget” their duties or fail to even delegate projects as necessary.

Officers are the premiere example by which the guild works, and they are supposed to be the preeminent authority on their class as well. This takes a lot of research, personal experience, and hard-learned knowledge. If a member has a question you cannot answer, tell them you will get back to them. Then do your homework and find out! Show them where you came upon the information, how you went about finding it, and what you feel this means in relation to their questions. Do not be afraid to send the member to another person if you feel they would be better able to handle the inquiry.

Raids: the knowledge to run a successful raid is part class composition, part text incorporation. Basically it means more homework for Officers. Officers need to be up to date on how boss fights work, how to down trash, how to move effectively from one goal to the next. Generally speaking every boss fight requires an hour of research time, 10 minuets of explanation, 5 minuets of group placement, and 5 minuets of group discussion. Every Officer should have a working understanding of the boss fight, special abilities, tasks for each class, and raid placement.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Though this was not on the original list, there is another aspect I would like to explain – one which can make or break even the strongest of guilds. The easiest way to approach this topic is to explain an Officers position in relation to his or her Guild Master. Unless the guild has a sort of council set up it is most likely that the Guild Master participates much as a benevolent monarch would. That is to say, what they decide is the end of discussion.

Officers and their GM should have a very professional relationship both in game as well as in any interaction they partake of – such as Officer forums, chats, or meetings. Through discussion the Officers and GM should be able to come up with satisfactory solutions to problems the guild, its members, or even the Officers face as a whole. There will be times, however, when an Officer may disagree partially or totally with what the GM decides. This is acceptable only IF the Officer does not in any way, shape, or form, relate this to the guild at large.

As an Officer it is your duty to stand behind the GM and uphold their decisions, just as it is their duty as a GM to stand behind your decisions. A good example is the removal of a member by an Officer who was on-site for the perpetuation of behavior against guild rules, or the harassment of this member towards another member. Even if I felt this was not handled as I would have handled it, I will NOT make the public announcement that I do not stand behind the Officers choice of action. There may be a private inquest to determine if the action was rash or totally justified, and then the reversal or upholding of that decision based on presented evidence.

At NO time should the members ever see Officers bickering with, denouncing, or second guessing the Guild Master. At NO time should the members ever see Officers bickering, denouncing, or second-guessing one another. These are private affairs only acceptable within the secured premises of an Officer only forums, or meeting.

It is also relevant to maintain a professional distance from the members. As an Officer it becomes your duty to enforce rules, and participate in judgment calls if members bring forth an issue. If you are friends with every member of the guild then this position of power will become skewed and your judgments will no longer be unbiased or totally impartial. This is not to say you cannot maintain friendly relations with people, but be very careful not to allow these relations to take on an aspect that will compromise your position as an Officer.

Guild Masters must be the same way. We cannot become everyone’s personal friend if we hope to maintain order, respect, and authority over the guild we are expected to run. Emotional responses are best reserved for personal relationships – not for operation of a guild. When the storm hits, we must be the solid rock onto which the rest of the guild leans or clings. Everything good reflects back upon us, just as everything bad is thrown onto us. Our ultimate responsibility is to bear the entire load of successes, or of failure.

This post reflects only my own personal judgments, views, and opinions. It is in no way a reflection of the internal structure of any other guild besides Blackrock Legends.

To anyone who made it this far, I salute you and thank you for your time and patience. My hope was to present to the reader a guide to picking Officers as well as a glimpse into the day-to-day workings of Officers and their lives within the guild; their duties and responsibilities. I realized towards the end that Officers are expected to do many things they will never be congratulated, or honored for.

To all of you who are Officers my deepest respect and sincerest thanks will always be yours

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