Officers’ Quarters: Class lead anxiety
This week’s question comes from a bard in EverQuest. That’s right, folks. WoW‘s content drought is so bad we’re now fielding questions about EverQuest.
Haha. The bard joined a guild and was promptly promoted to class leader, but she’s finding it difficult to work with the other bards. What should you do when you get a promotion over your peers?
I have a question I was hoping you’d write about if you find time. (Note – I play EverQuest)
I recently became a (bard) class leader in my guild. I am relatively new to the guild (I joined 4 months ago), many other members have been around for years and years. The officers and guild leader love me and think I am great at my class, but the other bards have gone cold since my promotion. How can I best win them over? I want them to like me, but I also want to earn their respect. Since being promoted, I haven’t done any “class leading.” I’m afraid telling the other bards what to do will sound bossy – it is a game, after all, and I don’t want to scare the few bards we have away. I get the impression I am too new to the guild, and they don’t want me to “tell them how to play.” At the same time, I need to do my job (try to get all the bards on the same page, and working together).
Any advice would be much appreciated. :)
This question brings me back to classic WoW, when class leads were still a thing. That was mostly because every class had one (at most two) viable raiding specs, so it was easier to have one person who had “mastered” the class in raiding. Also it was a lot more necessary with 40-player raids when you had to figure out which of your six Paladins would cast which buffs on whom, which of your four Warlocks would Banish which elemental, etc. I have no idea how EverQuest works but I’ll do my best to give advice here.
Imagine you’ve been at the same job for five years. No one ever promoted you or even thought to say why you weren’t being promoted. Then a new guy starts working with you, and four months later he’s your manager. You wouldn’t like it very much. You’d wonder why you were overlooked or whether this new person actually knows what he or she is doing.
So, it’s natural that the other bards feel at best ambivalent about you and at worst actively resent you. But I think where you’ve gone wrong with this whole thing is when you want them to both like you and respect you. It’s extremely difficult to do both.
Earn respect first
I’ve had managers I’ve liked and managers I’ve respected, but rarely did those two overlap. I’ve liked some managers because they didn’t come across as tyrants, but more like work friends. At the same time, I often didn’t respect them as much as others because they let people take advantage of them sometimes. They didn’t push people to work harder or do the basics of their job. That often meant more responsible workers had to do more because the manager wasn’t doing his or her job to motivate everyone. In the end, I often liked them as a person but I didn’t like them or respect them as a boss because they weren’t effective in their position.
Most managers that I respected, on the other hand, I didn’t necessarily like. They pushed me to perform at my best. They sometimes made me step outside my comfort zone and take on new tasks and responsibilities. In the end, I respected them because they managed their people well. Looking back, I realized that they helped me to grow as a person because they didn’t just give me a pass. I may not have liked them at the time, but in retrospect I’m grateful to them and that makes me like them more now.
You need to decide what kind of leader you want to be. Do you want the other bards to like you or do you want them to respect you? I would argue that, for leaders, the road to being liked begins with respect, and so does succeeding in your role.
Better bard management
Granted, this is a game and people should still have fun. But you do need to step up and do what the guild officers promoted you to do: manage the bards.
You don’t have to lead with an iron fist. I recommend starting out by trying to communicate with them more. Ask them what they think are the problems with the guild’s bard teamwork that could be fixed. What can you all do better together? What’s working really well? Find the strengths and build on them. Find the weaknesses and show the other bards how fixing those weaknesses could help the overall team to succeed. At the same time, let them know that you’re receptive to their ideas and that it’s a collective effort. Emphasize teamwork over individual preference.
If you get attitude and pushback from this process, take that to the officers. Remember that you’re the EverQuest version of a middle manager here. It’s important for them to know who the team players are and who is stubborn, selfish, or hard to work with so they can make decisions down the road with an accurate set of data. When those stubborn players aren’t following your recommendations and it’s causing wipes, take note of that. Talk to the raid leaders and officers about it privately. If the bards aren’t listening to you, they sure as heck better listen to the raid leader when he or she tells them to do it your way. Assuming you’re giving them good advice, they’ll see the results for themselves.
The alternative to all that is to do nothing. You’ll disappoint your officers and your guild. The other bards might eventually like you, but they will never respect you as the class lead. They’ll always wonder why you were picked over them because you never showed them those reasons. Don’t choose that path.
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