On Dropping the Ball, Consequences, and Drawing Lines

This post…I thought long and hard about whether or not I should put it up. Unlike most days, I’m not gushing about my guild, or how well we’ve pulled it together, or any of that jazz. Nope, today is something a lot different: that perilous navigation of the parting of the ways. It was the first time that it really mattered, and emotions were raw, and things got mishandled, on a lot of people’s parts. The other thing I worried about was that it would be seen as some sort of justification of officer actions, that it would look like I was standing over here going “Guys, guys! Here’s what REALLY happened!!”

But then I remembered something important. I said that my intention was to talk about the business of running the guild, among other things. It’s not always victories. Sometimes there are stumbles. Sometimes uglier things happen. They’re just as important. So I’m going to talk about it. Maybe someone else can learn from our misstep. If it looks like I’m making excuses to some, so be it. In the end, I think I’d rather say, “Yep, that happened,” than put my head in the sand. The loss of one of our number, no matter what the circumstances, is impossible not to see, so we might as well look at it.

Much has been said about how difficult it is to help put this whole thing together. There is one bit of this deal that works for us most of the time, and that is the fact that the original members of the group were friends, or at least well acquainted. We lucked out on that point, as a bunch of people that we knew were in groups that were disintegrating, or simply unsatisfactory, and were looking for something new at the time that we were looking to build. This has been a blessing, largely. We understood what to expect from one another, and that made the experience fun, because somehow, despite all the little ways we can drive one another bonkers, it is familiar and liveable. And 99% of the time, it works.

Then there is that other percent. Where friendship is a stumbling block, largely because it keeps you tolerating things you shouldn’t probably a little longer than is healthy.

It begins with our healing corps.

Truth is, it became clear rather quickly that one of our healers was lagging a bit behind the others. We expected that might be the case, due to the relative inexperience of the person playing vs. the rest of our people. We thought nothing of it. People can learn. We figured time, heroics, and helpful advice from others who played the class would begin to bolster things where we were sagging. Unfortunately, this turned out to not be the case, as the healer in question…basically did nothing. No real attempts at improvement, no LFR, no anything, really. And the numbers were getting worse. It was a problem. Unsure of where to start first, we pulled them aside during off-time and tried to approach things quietly. We pointed to some things that could be improved, and offered help and suggestions. We volunteered to help run things, craft things, gather things, help in whatever way we could. It seemed to be a good exchange, and we walked away feeling optimistic.

Weeks passed, with little improvement, and worse, few visible attempts at any. Soon enough, others were noticing things, and began to bring their concerns to us. At this point, a problem shifts into liability territory. Progression became more difficult, in part because I was absent, and in part because we were now in a position where two healing anything for extra output was all but impossible, as we had a healer that was more like half of one, and had no viable off-spec. Utility in 10s is nigh inescapable, and a 10 man group with one person essentially missing is crippled.

In our posted raid rules, I have a statement nestled in rule #2: “You may pay your $14.95, but you’re still on $134.55 of other people’s time; please respect it.” The rule itself is about staying on task during raids, but it fit here too. This is where we were, asking people to carry someone who wasn’t respecting their time. This was the muddled part. How long do you say nothing? How long do you ask your raiders, who put in overtime, who look for every tiny way to squeeze out just a little bit more, and who have been great about offering every hand they can to someone who needs it only to be brushed back, to continue to take along someone who doesn’t even seem to be bothered to do the bare minimum? Honestly, I still don’t know, only to say that it was probably too long. This was the first place we dropped the ball. We disrespected our raiders by allowing one of our raiders to disrespect the rest.

And so, faced with that reality, we began to recruit. It was simpler at this juncture, because one of our healers was tanking in my stead, so we had the open spot anyway. People came, a few applied, none panned out, though we did get achingly close. But it was also where we made the biggest of the screw-ups. We had an applicant was awesome on paper, and we wanted to get him into a raid. We decided that we would sit our problematic healer for the night and invite the applicant instead. That worked well…except for the part where we neglected to tell the person being sat. It came up, and we even said, “Someone should tell [them],” but then no one did.

As you might have guessed, when this came to light during invites that week, it was messy. Because really, even after everything, we still should have given that courtesy. We copped to our error, and the healer gquit. I will spare the ensuing conversation. it strays a little too far into tabloid territory for my tastes. There were angry things said, and there were things said that made us angry. Everyone felt jerked around, them because of the raid spot, and us because we basically felt as though we’d been jerked around for a while now.

This story really resolves with a whimper, as opposed to a bang, which is a good thing, I think. It is rare that a dramasplosion is positive for a guild, even one that is as tightly knit as ours. The healer decided to go to another guild, and we continue to look for a replacement. I bear them no ill will. Perhaps a new environment will inspire growth that we couldn’t. For our part, we learned that as much as we hate doing the hard parts, they still must be done, and that as much as it pains us to do it, we have to draw that line in the sand between friendship and raids. It seems so harsh and cold to say, “This is business,” but it really is. And the way that the three of us can be completely hardline with one another (even if we end up logging off in a huff), we have to do the same with our “employees”. After all, a cut may seem cruel on its face, but it can be the decision that saves the body in the end.

Until next time…

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~ by Esco on January 25, 2013.

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