In this second part of my "Putting the Guild Back into Guild Wars" series, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how to organize your guild, the pitfalls involved with guilds, and then some pointers as to how to make your guild succeed. We’ll also be looking at the various Guild Management functions of Guild Wars 2 and the best ways to use the tools available.
You might remember in the previous article we talked about the sorts of questions you should be asking to help make a guild, and of the policies and processes you should be thinking about as you do so. This article is pretty in-depth on the topics of guild structures and leadership hints, so feel free to jump around to the parts you feel most relevant to you.
Guilds and the management of them are not only a very complicated subject, but also an emotive one. No one wants to be called a bad guild leader and everyone wants their guild to be amazing and wonderful. However, even if this is old hat or irrelevant to you there is always room to learn and hopefully these next couple of sections will do just that.
If your guild is going to be a small or a casual group of friends then a lot of this won’t apply, however as you grow and evolve it’s probably worth knowing it in advance. I’ll start off with some basics.
"It's Just a Game Isn't It?"
For sure it most certainly is, except one thing: it has real people behind those pretty pixels you see on screen. In Skyrim, the nords don’t rage at you for quitting mid quest, no one minds if you are rude to every NPC and most importantly you can act how the hell you like with almost no consequences.
In an MMO this all changes. You form friendships, make enemies and interact with people you most likely will never see in person. So even though the medium you interact with is pretend, the people who interact with are certainly not.
Wikipedia defines an organization as a "social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal". This sounds like a lot like a guild to me. We have a purpose, we have people and regardless of the actual workings a structure.
Now, since we want to make a success of our guild, and it will be an organization, it makes perfect sense to look at what works in real life, use real life principles and real life experiences and make best use them. What works for real organizations is what will work here because we are a real life organization. It's just that the medium we choose to interact with people is virtual.
Many, many in-game guilds and alliances have failed because they did not take note or use this inevitable and incontrovertible truth.
"Okay, So What Works Then?"
Since we are an organization it makes sense to know what works and what does not. Let’s start with the two basic forms of organizing people: hierarchical and matrix.
Matrix management assumes there is no one person responsible for any one thing, information and decision making is divided equally between individuals.
The typical small or casual guild is organized in this way. There is only a guild leader because the game requires there to be one in the roster. Everyone could be an officer, the guild leader might switch around on a rota basis or the guild leader assumes everyone has an equal vote in everything.
In short it looks like this:
With small numbers of people it’s relatively easy to manage and indeed works well, as information flows freely and quickly without much risk of error, after all each "node" carries the risk of the "Chinese Whisper" effect.
Now, let’s double the Guild size to 16.
As can easily be seen the number of interactions required to make a decision increases exponentially, the organization starts to get swamped with opinions, views and "best ways to do things".
Just for fun let’s make this chart the size of an average guild, that of 49 people.
Now if every person (node) has to have a say or be told something then the result is clearly chaos, paralysis and because decision making is delayed the decisions are weakened and unreliable. Politics then takes over resulting in an eventual catastrophic breakdown. There wasn’t room on my screen or time to draw the several hundred node one, but you get the idea.
The strengths of a matrix structure are while it is small, decisions and communications flow well and there is a tight knit-feel to things. This is why small guilds feel more family like than larger ones.
The downsides are obvious once one gets above a certain size. Now what this number is is dependent on the skills and character of the people that is inside of that organization. However, experience has shown that above about 30 active players the model starts to break down, and above 70 active players usually becomes totally unworkable.
The Other Model is That of a Hierarchical Structure
Most of us are familiar with this in some shape or form as these are the ones we see in day to day work and life, so I’ll skim over the diagrams and get right to the pros and cons.
In a small organization (read: guild) a Hierarchical Model does not work. It is overly bureaucratic, breeds a “them and us” feeling and promotes a hungry for power style of culture.
However, in a larger organization, it simplifies decision making, clarifies lines of communication and reduces the politics due to lack of clarity. The downsides are that if the structure is too top heavy, has too many layers or poor leaders, that the tendency is a subconscious move towards a matrix structure. People bypass the "chain of command" and so the structure will eventually fail for the same reasons as a matrix one would.
Often larger guilds try and combine the two, a hierarchical structure in terms of leaders and officers but also sub-divide of their guild into chapters, or departments, so as to make use of a matrix structure. If you can pull it off, this can work very well as each guild member will feel part of a close knit group as well as having the benefit of a clear direction and decision making structure. This sort of combination is very hard to pull off successfully but will reap huge benefits over time. In my experience there has to be a lot of trust in your officers and members and of them in you to make this work.
"What Makes a Good Leader?"
Since most guilds have more than 30 people, a matrix style structure is clearly not going to work all that well. This means that the best option is to have a hierarchical one. However, the most critical factor in this type of structure is the quality of the leader at each level in the chain.
Below are 13 tips and bits of advice to help you and me become better guild leaders. There have been thousands of books written on how to be a better leader, so I would suggest hitting the books to help you understand more of what makes a good leader. History shows us, that an organization rises or falls on the ability of the leaders so it makes (to me) complete sense to learn and be as good as one as possible.
Personally I’ve found books on leadership by Dr John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Warren Bennis and Dale Carnegie to be a great help, but there are many, many more. This short wiki article on Tuckman’s stages of group development is also a great starting to place as it helps show how your Guild will behave when it’s launched and as it progresses over time.
Tips and Hints for Guild Leaders
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. Not only will it take a whole load of pressure off you, it will give your guild members something to aspire to. Treat every new guild member as though they could be your next officer and your next officer as a potential guild leader. That’s right, aim to train yourself out of a job. Also, ensure there is no over-reliance on any one person, be that for doing events or paying the bills.
- Promote because of character, not of ability or because they are your best friend. A bad officer can ruin a guild in no time, so choose them carefully. Personally I never promote someone who asks me to be an officer. As soon as they do, they go to the bottom of my list.
- You MUST be the most active or very close to it in your guild. As a guild leader you cannot expect any growth in your guild if you're not active. People will get discouraged quickly with a guild where the leader has weeks since logged on time consistently. When you do go on vacation, let guildies know when you’ll be back and who you left in charge in the meantime
- You must promote activity like crazy. Even when no one else is talking, you may often times be forced to talk to yourself (but not too often). But if you want to build the community amongst your members, you have to be the one to instigate it at the very start unless you're lucky to find those special members that do it for you. Try to encourage people to run their own events, and make them feel like doing so.
- Don't expect to have much time for yourself. You exist for the guild, not them for you. Of course the more you delegate and train members, the easier your life will become.
- Have, at minimum, a loosely defined objective or, at best, a well-defined objective. Having a well-defined objective for your guild will let recruits know what your guild is about. It will also help in the recruiting process. Most people are looking for something in a guild, and if you can fulfill that something they will want to join you, and if you don't fulfill that something, it helps keep disgruntled members from ever joining your guild in the first place.
- Keep your roster up to date. Having a long list of inactive members can be subtly discouraging to your members who are active, especially if those who are active are few in numbers.
- Use the many communication tools available to you! A guild with a website, mumble/teamspeak/ventrillo server and a forum has that much more opportunity to stay in touch with its members and grow as a community, of gamers and friends.
- As your guild grows, keep a decent ratio of officers to guild members. Try to space out your officers online times to fit the member online times. Having any given officer online at any given time a member is on can help tremendously with activity, and overall member morale.
- Be organized. In everything that you do, be organized about it. Guild events that go poorly because of bad organization is one of the quickest ways to lose members, especially in Guild Wars 2, because guild hopping is so easy. Even if it wasn't the best experience, if it was well organized people have hope for the next time.
- Be humble. Welcome advice, suggestions and comments from members and be willing to use them. Your members are there for you just as much as you are there for your members. Most people like to give input to their guild if they care about it. So be open to suggestions and ask for them often. Also don’t forget to give credit where it’s due.
- Settle disputes quickly. Disputes amongst guild members must be dealt with swiftly in order to create harmony within the guild. There's nothing worse than a long drawn out fight amongst guild members that can cause splits and lost members, even those not involved.
- Finally, set a good example. How you play the game, the things you say, the things you do, will set the tone for the guild on the whole. So, if you're a jerk, often times the guild will become a group of jerks and those that are'nt will generally leave. If you're a considerate nice person, the guild will become a group of considerate nice people, and those that are jerks will either leave or get booted quickly. You will attract and keep like-minded people. For example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep a hard core PvP’er happy if you are a casual, part time PvE player and Guild.
Now let’s move onto rules: how and why are they here and why have them.
In a perfect world, there would be no requirement for rules. The relationships between people would be perfect and all would be bird songs and butterflies. Since it isn’t, we need certain rules to be put into place and mentioned up front, to not only show people what we deem to be acceptable, but to also show people what we will allow to happen and will not allow.
Again, in a smaller guild/organization, these rules are not as needed because the relationships between the members are such that everyone understands as part of the culture what is "right" and "wrong". Now, in a larger organization, you need these to be in place because people will have differing views on things and what should be done about them.
A set of rules that encompasses the whole organization is utterly necessary for the smooth running of that organization. Again, taking what works in real life we see that every club, sport, or company has a set of fundamental rules on which it is based so why should a guild be the exception?
On the other side of the coin, too many rules cause stagnation and stifle peoples expression, so therefore the rules must be the bare minimum to make it work, but not too few as to leave loopholes and exploits for people to take advantage. Rules should also need to be added or changed if additional clarity is required, in response to certain situations or even removed if they are no longer necessary.
More importantly, the rules should be an expression of the culture and relationships of the guild rather than that of imposing a different culture on people. The closer we get to "the perfect world" the less rules we need, as the behavior people don’t want to see comes naturally rather than having to be enforced.
Managing Guilds in Guild Wars 2
If you’ve read this far, great! If you’ve skipped to this bit then welcome.
Choosing a server
On the face of it, choosing a server for your guild is very stressful and fraught with risk. It could be an expensive mistake to choose the wrong one. Factors to consider are:
- Language and culture. From what you’ve seen does the server look likely to match your language and culture?
- Play Style. Will you and your guildies find like-minded people who enjoy doing what you do?
- Timezones. For WvW you want a server with great 24-hour coverage, but what about PvE? Will there be enough people on to do PvE and dungeons? Will your members have latency issues if they roll onto a different regions server?
Because of the guesting system, being on another server because your server is full or you want to be elsewhere is not as disastrous as it is in other MMO’s. While it can be disappointing, the important thing is to be able to play with your friends, which apart from a single game type you can do just that.
To help you decide here is a fan created site to see who is rolling where.
Forming a Guild
Forming a new guild ought to be as simple as just earning the 1 silver, pressing G and then starting your guild. In the game that’s all you need to do.
However there are a few things to bear in mind first of all (apart from the name, tag and server you will go on). Although these were talked about in the previous article we’ll take a look at ranks within the Guild and setting them up in advance.
You’ll want to think of the ranks you will need well in advance of forming the Guild. Only give the permissions to people that they will need to do the role you plan for them to do. The Permissions available are:
- Edit Ranks
- Edit Guild Emblem
- Claim/Unclaim WvW Forts
- Queue Upgrades
- Modify Upgrade In Progress
- Activate Built Upgrades
- Admin Lower Ranks
- Edit Message of the Day
- Display Guild Emblem
- Guild Stash Deposit
- Guild Stash Withdraw
- Treasure Trove Deposit
- Treasure Trove Withdraw
- New Members Here
It’s best to lay these permissions out in a spreadsheet table so you can see who can do what. This way, when it comes to start the guild, all you need to do is create this table in game and get on with the fun part of inviting and promoting.
Inviting, Promoting and Kicking people
While you can use the Guild Roster Panel to invite people, using the invite box by far the easiest way is to use right click on the person’s name in the chat box. Promoting and kicking people is also done by right clicking on the person’s name in the roster and selecting either kick or promote (try not to get them mixed up :) ).
When you do need to kick a member, make sure they understand why the decision was made. Personally I always tried to find a guild more suited to their personality for them so they didn’t feel as rejected and always had a place to go to. It didn’t always work, but I always felt as though the effort was appreciated.
In my guild we always gave a person a "strike" and explained why they got it and what they can do to avoid another one. This way it was always their actions that determined a kick, and not our itchy fingers. Of course such policies are entirely up to you and how you want to run things. Make sure your members know up front though.
Often they will beg and plead and try to go to one officer to the next to try and garner a reprieve. You need to be firm, fair and consistent in dealing with people who don’t fit and consulting with your officer team is a sure fire way of doing this.
Managing your guild. Getting more information
We mentioned above a lot of theory and advice on how to be a better guild and guild leader and also how to invite, promote and kick your members. GW2 also provides lots of other information as to the state of your guild. You can find these on the Guild Tab (G in game). They should be self-explanatory.
The Initial Roster screen(when you first press G)
Guild Influence History Panel
Part Three of this series will look at the influence system in some detail.
Guild History Panel
In each races' capital city and Lions Arch there is an NPC that serves as a Guild’s Registrar. You can use them to raise the guild cap and once you have enough influence obtain a guild emblem.
If you are going to raise your guild’s cap, it’s a good idea to schedule in advance to make sure you have enough people online to meet the criteria, especially if you are a multi time zone guild.
By far and away the easiest place to find a Guild Registrar is Hoelbrak. They do exist in other cities, but due to the design of them they are hard to find, especially as the Directions NPC doesn’t always know where they are (looking at you, Divinity's Reach). I've included the locations of all the Guild Registrars in each race's capital city:Summary
The topic of Guild Management is a huge one and even this long article cant hope to cover every possibility. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be that behind every name on your roster is real person with feelings, aspirations and a desire to feel part of something greater. They chose your guild from thousands of others to join in the same way as you chose to start a guild to be unique from the thousands of others. Act with respect and integrity and you’ll find your guild grows both in numbers and in feeling of a great place to be. Because that’s what makes a great guild, not the accomplishments, winning or losing but the people who have chosen to be in it with you.