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Old 02-06-2009, 08:33 PM
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Post Functional Guilds: A Project Management Approach
An Introduction to the Functional Guild: The Project Planning Steps to Success

By: Kaimera - GamerDNA – http://Alliance101.gamerdna.com

Silver Plume attempt # 1

When it comes to building a successful guild in just about any online game where there is user interaction on a large scale, a million things come to mind, all the way from “what are the guilds goals or intentions,” to “how strict or lenient is the guild?” Usually, and not always with the best outcome, people assume that jumping in to any old guild will suffice, but what many people don’t realize is that every guild has an objective, and it usually isn’t what the guild can do for you, but what you can do for the guild that interests the people in that guild. In many cases, this is what keeps a guild from functioning properly. The people in the guild do not have their goals aligned toward the same outcome. This is the exact reason many guilds in online games are disbanded within a week, or you see bigger guilds crumble into oblivion after just a few months; their goals were aligned at one point but somehow shifted due to leadership changes, or that “main leader” role shifting things without any guild feedback.

The “no feedback” issue is something that has plagued guilds since the first guild was created. Guilds will always have members come and go, but when a member feels left out or isn’t interested in where the guild leader has shifted the guilds goals without their input, not only does it put a blemish on the guild name, but it usually ends with a revolt that fractures the guild into pieces, leading to guild members either joining other guilds or creating one of their own based on their own ideals.

The best way to combat this unfortunate turn of events is by building a guild based on the same structures as a project within an organization. Now this is not saying that every project is successful, because not all organizational projects are, but this will definitely raise the percentage for success. By focusing on what a good project manager needs and does within a project, guild leaders can shape and form their guild aimed toward a single goal with a much lower attrition rate and hopefully be successful in not only sustaining the life of the guild, but grow closer as a family/community in the process.

The structuring of a guild from a project management perspective:

Building a good team is the single most important thing a Project Manager can do to achieve a successful project. This is the same for a guild leader; having a good leadership base and interactive/loyal team will help toward the success of the guild. With the right attitude, a team will overcome almost any difficulty to succeed in its goals. In most projects there will be times when only the determination of the team can overcome the difficulties and carry the initiative through to success. Even when there is no pressure, the team's spirit and enthusiasm will be reflected in the quality of the solution and the extent to which other people buy-in to it. From a guild perspective, this is also true. The guild leader plays the role of “motivational speaker” so to say, swaying members to buy-in to the overall objective of the guild. Keeping members enthusiastic about what the guild is trying to do, and constantly re-enforcing each member’s role with positive feedback is a large factor in keeping a guild together and active.

There is a whole area of academic study and practical experience about building good teams. Business psychologists present many theories concerning the way in which people interact. A world-class Project Manager/guild leader needs to be an amateur psychologist and a manipulator of human behavior. Here are some of the factors which generally lead to a good team/guild:
  • shared belief in the value and achievability of the guild’s goals,
Keep everyone on track with what the guild is trying to do. If things are going to change, make sure that everyone is informed, and that they understand that the change is only for the betterment of the guild and still focuses on the success of the guilds overall goal. Make sure to listen to feedback on those changes from guild members. Shunning member ideas can be a fast track to losing members.
  • awareness of the value of the individual's own role and contribution,
Make sure that each guild member understands their role within the guild. Whether it’s a cleric focused on healing members in PVP from a distance, or a tank running in to bash away at incoming enemies, every person in the guild should be aware of what their role is and be encouraged to not only focus on that goal, but present ways of improving on that role for the betterment of the guild.
  • recognition of the value of other team members (whether they are key specialists or just non-specialist, junior assistants),
No matter what the outcome, leaders, directors, and squad or section leaders must keep a keen eye on how they interact with their members. In many cases a mob battle or PVP battle may happen and all members are not acknowledged for their participation. This is a key way to lose members. It should be the goal of all people in a leadership position to take the time to thank their members for their participation, and provide them with positive feedback on their role within that particular battle.
  • desire to work collaboratively, sharing thoughts, ideas, concerns, etc,
This is a key thing that can always improve a guilds loyalty from its members and something that has been proven to help in all team interactions from organizational teams to sports teams. Guild leaders should always have open forms of communication, not only in the form of forums, but also within the game. This can be done by finding your top level users from each class and having them run open floor conversations with the lower level classes. I.e: a high level mage getting all of the other guild mages together and discussing the particulars of their class. Whether it is skill usage or attack strategies, pooling classes together to help build them into better class users is always a plus for any guild. Beyond that, it helps bring the members closer together, thus raising the guilds overall moral.
  • friendship - enjoying working together with a common purpose,
This is more of an overall guild focus; not particularly class specific. Get all members of the guild to interact with the other classes. This can be done with team building skills such as sending a certain group from the guild out on different quests together. If a leader continues to mix and match which members he/she is putting together to complete a quest or mission, he/she is allowing the guild members to meet others within the guild and interact with different classes, thus bringing the guild closer together.
  • supporting each other in recognition that the team's success requires all members to be successful,
This, once again, is the leaders group constantly encouraging each member in their section or in the overall guild to work together. No one tank can take on anything without some form of support; a cleric in the distance healing, or a mage in the distance helping with power ups or defensive spells, and so on. Making sure that each member realizes how important they are to the mission will help make each member feel wanted and apart of something important.
  • coaching junior members rather than bossing them,
This is where more members are lost in every guild no matter what size. Goals can shift and members may stay, but put a member down, even if in a joking manner and a guild leader may have just sealed their own fate. This comes from the “no face-to-face interaction” issue. A guild leader must keep in mind that no matter what they say, it could be taken wrong or it could be taken literally. To battle this issue, many guilds use voice chats, which should be considered a very positive approach to helping keep a guild together. A Guild leader and his/her team of leaders should always take a positive approach to trying to coach a member. If they get frustrated, step away for a moment and realize that it is just a game and having fun is of course the overall goal, even beyond the guilds goals. If a member loses that “fun factor” the guild has just lost a member. When coaching a member on something, one of the best ways is to take them in-game away from the actual scenario and demonstrate what a more practical approach to killing something is, or how to use their skills in a specific sequence in order to accomplish a certain goal. Screaming “WTF are you doing?!!” into the mic should never be an option.
  • listening to ideas and advice from other team members,
Listening to ALL member input should be another focal point for leaders. Members tend to feel unwanted or not important if their ideas aren’t at least looked at as a possibility within the guild. The best approach to this is by taking ideas listed in a forum or jotted down my leadership members and going over them with all of the leadership team. Once the leadership team has come up with the pros and cons in relation to the guilds overall goals, they should present them to the entire team. Now this is where it could get a bit tricky and a leader’s skill as a behavioral manipulator come into play. A leader can not just simply state the guild is not going to adopt a member’s idea. The leader must take the time to explain how the leadership team came to that decision, all while making sure that they are letting the member know that the idea was a worth while contribution to the guild, but that it is not within the scope of the guilds overall goal at that particular time. Basically, a leader’s ability to let someone in the guild down softly will be the tipping point in this matter. Keep in mind that a leader may not be able to always please everyone, but that letting a member down softly rather than dropping them on their tail may help keep that member and that members friends in the guild for a longer period of time.
  • making time to communicate with other team members,
All that can really be said on this is communicate, communicate, communicate. A leader must have all avenues of communication open at all times. From PMs to private chats and shout boxes, a leader and his leadership team should always make time to discuss any aspect of the guild with any member. It doesn’t matter if a leader is in the middle of a boss fight with the boss only having 400 hit points left, a leader must somehow be able to let that member know that they are there for them and will discuss whatever issues have come up with them directly. This is why leaders are leaders, because they are there for their people over themselves. If a lead can not take up that kind of role within a guild, then it is possible that they are not meant to be leaders, because as a leader your job is not gaining levels yourself, but helping the people within the guild gain levels; everything should be for the betterment of the group.
  • celebrating successes,
From an online standpoint, it is difficult to “celebrate” successes as a whole within a guild. There have been many different attempts to determine the best way to reward members within a guild for successes, but all too often, a leader has no real means of presenting members with something. Some ways around this are things such as team pools. Team pools are money pots or equipment pools that a leadership member holds on to as it builds up. When a guild goes out on a specific mission or quest and succeeds, the guild leader determines how much from a money pot each member should get for a job well done. One that has also been highly successful in many MMOs is the passing down of equipment, or an equipment pool. In many cases higher level characters in-game have gathered and used equipment throughout their in-game adventuring. Rather than constantly selling off the equipment, leaders can make a pool of that equipment and hand it out after successful quests to deserving members. Another way is promotions within a guild if the leader has set up some sort of rank structure.

Overall, no team is perfect in every aspect. There will always be a squeak in the wheel so to say. But with the right kind of effort from a guild leader and his/her leadership team, keeping most guild members interested in the goals of the guild and enthusiastic about being a member of that guild are possible. It simply takes a larger effort from the leaders of the guild, focusing on its members, their involvement in the guild, and how their online play can be improved not only for their gaming experience but also for the betterment of the guild, all while constantly providing an open line of communication to nip problems as they arise and keep them from becoming disastrous.

By following, or at least modifying a guilds leadership style to somewhat mimic these attributes, it is possible to build up a healthy, large, more connected and interactive guild. Although a guild may not be able to always keep every member it brings in, these attributes allow for a guild to put forth every effort possible to ensure that members are not leaving on a negative note or due to the lack of something mentioned above. Guild leaders have no control over the changing goals of its members, but can make sure that as that member leaves, he/she leaves with a good impression of that guild and continues to promote it as a guild worth looking into to other online players.

Kaimera-
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Old 02-06-2009, 09:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaimerasPain View Post
Screaming “WTF are you doing?!!” into the mic should never be an option.
I could not agree with this more. So many times have i seen where a leader takes a miscalc or new user action to heart and blasts them in front of tons of guild members. This would make me leave for sure.

Overall, I have to give ya a 2 thumbs up on this. Although I dont see many leaders actually working toward following these type of directions due to being out for themselve rather than the guild, this is definitely something every guild leader should keep in mind when they actually decide to create a guild.

By taking on that responsibility, you put your "fun factor" aside to a certain extent in order to increase the fun factor for others. If you dont think you can handle it, you shouldnt be a guild leader IMO.

Nice Job!
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:05 AM
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:53 PM
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Note: My post is all over the place, I say things in non-linear manner.

Awesome post, mate. I personally think people take Guild Leadership much too seriously, MUCH too seriously. Afterall, it's only a game, and the point of a game is to have fun. Guilds are supposed to add to that fun.

I've always thought (being a Guild Leader myself at some point) that I do not own the guild. I manage the guild yes, and I sort out it's rules, ranking system, etc. But I do not own the guild. I've always believed ownership of a guild to be shared amongst it's members.

Members, to me, are the most valued part of a guild. Their feedback is absolutely imperetive and I dislike not getting feedback on how to make my guild(s) better. I do not make guilds for my own satisfaction (or for power) but for the the satisfaction of the member.

To me, it is important that the member feels comfortable in the guild. That they like the guild and that they feel at home within the guild. Most of my guild's ultimate goal is to become one big happy family (which is what I try to do with forums too).

Most of my goals for guilds were situated around happiness. I wanted my guild members to be happy. I do not want them to leave because they felt like they didn't belong or they because they were treated badly (this is why feedback is absolutely critical to the success of any guild).

This does not always happen of course, moderation will need to be order because of people who just want to troll other members or when arguments do break out (and it WILL happen) because of disagreements. This happens, but going off and screaming into a mic "SHUT THE HELL UP YOU F**KING IDIOTS!" or saying the like in chat will NOT help the measure. Neither will banning all members involved.

As for raid guilds, I've always HATED raid them (for the likes of WoW) having these stupid strict rules - there are guilds out there who make the game their career, force their members to level up to max, and force their members to login a certain amount of times a week or they'll be kicked, this is TOTAL bullshit IMO and this is NOT FUN, no person wants to be told how to play a game.

For WoW, the new calendar thing is bloody awesome. Sorting out raids and who can come is absolutely brilliant. It means that those who don't want to come can deny it and those who do can accept the invitation.

Things like raids should be organized WEEKS in advance so anyone who changes their mind can do so without any bad repercussions (no member should ever feel scared or threatened by their manangement). If however a raid member just ups and leaves during a raid or doesn't tell anyone they're not coming then some sort of "punishment" system should be in order because members have to contribute to something too (DKP loss could be something, a ranking where the member can't talk or do anything like a "suspension" could be useful too).

Conclusion: It is in MY opinion (no one else has to agree with me) that a guilds primary concern should be that of it's members and if they having FUN. If the members don't feel like they're succeeding their golds in the guild they will leave (which is fine, you can't please everybodies wants and I personally accept this).

If a member isn't having fun then go to them and ask WHY. Feedback is so important that if no member gave it the guild WOULD crumble. Any guild would crumble and without feedback and a good management the guild will just fail.
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zanarix View Post
If a member isn't having fun then go to them and ask WHY. Feedback is so important that if no member gave it the guild WOULD crumble. Any guild would crumble and without feedback and a good management the guild will just fail.
Could not agree more; although my focus was on leadership and how to be better at it, as mentioned in the document, a gamers "fun factor" is and should always be the overall objective.

Knowing what could make a gamers guild experience more enjoyable is definitely something that must be focused on above and beyond the guilds overall goal; but with that comes the management of the guild to still reach its main objective, thus making this more of a double edged sword. Overall, if a member of the guild just can not find the "fun factor" within the guild, then they must choose as to whether or not they want to remain in that guild. But at the same time, they should not leave on a sour note. They should still realize that the guild can be a good resource in-game, and that just because they aren't after the same goals, they can still have guild friends to make their gaming experience mor eenjoyable.

Thanks for all the feedback thus far!

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Old 04-03-2009, 03:06 PM
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@zanarix: There's a flip side to that coin. What when you as a guild manager spend a lot of time on a guild for the members and they just don't give any feedback? Or they just don't show any activity? It happened to me twice, and trust me I'm not a bossy person. I actually want to do things with the other members. What you are saying (at least that's what I get from it) is that guild managers should make things fun and comfortable for the members, but doesn't it count the other way around as well?
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