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Officers Quarters > WoWDec 20, 2017 2:00 pm CT

Officers’ Quarters: When a raider quits

jaina in dalaran

Zel asked:
How do you break the news to the guild when longstanding members leave over progress/loot reasons?

Losing a good raider is always tough. I’m sorry to hear your guild is going through that. Your response very much depends on whether or not the person leaving was vocal about their reasons.

If they weren’t vocal, there’s no need to explain their departure to the guild. Officers don’t need to provide reasons for every player who leaves, even “longstanding” ones. In fact, you actually risk creating drama when you do that. The person who left may not want you to discuss private conversations you may have had with him or her. They already feel bad about leaving in most cases — telling everyone in the guild what that person said about the community isn’t likely to make that person or the guild feel any better about the situation.

That person may want to maintain relationships with their friends who are left behind. Sharing their reasons for quitting when they haven’t expressed those reasons publicly might jeopardize those relationships. You as an officer don’t want to be responsible for that.

To the point: There’s a lot to lose in this specific situation and very little to gain. What’s more important is what you do about the person leaving. Even if your guild doesn’t know the reasons, the officers do.

The announcement

Breaking the news in this case is rather simple: Tell people that the person left. Say some nice things about what that person contributed and how much they’ll be missed. Whatever you do, don’t say anything bad about the person. It’s a terrible look for an officer and it will make your remaining raiders wonder what you secretly think about them. What will the officers say about me if I leave?, they’ll wonder.

Members will ask you directly why this person left. You’re under no obligation to tell them. It’s enough to say, “Their reasons are their business” and leave it at that.

At the same time, you shouldn’t be dismissive of this development. You can express regret about the departure without getting into the reasons behind it. Pledge to do whatever you can to replace them.

Above all, make sure everyone in the guild knows that the officers are willing to listen to their concerns about the raid team at this time. If you think anyone else might be on the verge of quitting, don’t be shy about approaching them in private and asking them if they’re happy. Offer to bring up any issues they raise with the other officers to see if you can make changes that will improve the raiding experience.

If they’re vocal

In the other hypothetical scenario, the person leaving was vocal about their reasons. When this happens, your response depends on what kind of guild you’re running.

If you’re not a progression-focused guild, then maybe the person leaving just feels compelled to be part of a more progression-focused group. There’s nothing wrong with that. Many players wake up one day and realize they need to be part of a more serious team to enjoy the game. They look around and see that they’re far more committed to progression that the rest of the team. They get frustrated that not everyone is as dedicated as they are. The guild no longer offers their preferred raiding culture.

Social raiding guilds experience these losses from time to time. You shouldn’t treat their departure like a black mark for the raid team. Treat it for what it is: a natural outcome for the type of raiding you’re engaged in. Every so often social raiding guilds will lose people this way, just as progression-focused guilds lose raiders to burnout. Many of those burned-out raiders go on to join social raiding guilds for a more relaxed atmosphere. It’s the circle of life in raiding communities.

Changing the guild to appease that one person who’s leaving is the wrong response. Unless everyone on the raid team wants to start getting more serious about progression, changing the culture would be catastrophic for team morale.

For progression guilds

If you’re a progression-focused guild and a player left for progression reasons, that’s a very bad place to be. One gquit can snowball into many. Your raiders might worry that the team is a sinking ship, and if they don’t jump off early enough, positions won’t be available in the other top guilds when they apply. The entire team can unravel in just a few days.

In this case you need to tackle this departure head-on. You need to have a very frank discussion with your raid team about how you plan to make changes to prevent this type of departure from happening. Maybe you need to be more aggressive in recruitment. Maybe you need to be stricter about people showing up on time or get more serious about holding people accountable for performance. Whatever is preventing your team from making adequate progress, the officers must try to fix those issues. Most of all, your raid team needs to be aware that you’re doing it.

The loot issue

Bringing loot into it is a somewhat different story. If the person is unhappy about the loot system, that is a good time to hold a referendum about it with your remaining raiders. Gauge whether the system is working for everyone. Solicit feedback about what your raiders like and what they don’t like about the loot system. Make adjustments as necessary to avoid losing anyone else.

Loot is a terrible reason to lose a good raider. A competent, passionate raider is an invaluable resource to any raid team. What’s a trinket or a tier piece compared to that — especially since all of our loot will get replaced in 8.0?

That said, if the person leaving has unrealistic expectations about loot or wants to skew the system in their favor, then you’re right to let them go. It’s better to maintain the integrity of the system than to cater to an individual. No one is irreplaceable, especially if they put their own needs ahead of the team as a whole.

Timing is everything

This type of news is highly sensitive and can have a massive effect on morale. It’s critical to make the announcement at the right time to minimize the fallout.

In politics, people often release bad news late on a Friday. Then, the majority of the public is already in “weekend mode” — no longer paying attention to the news cycle. They hope that most people won’t see those bad headlines on Friday. Then by the time Monday rolls around, the spotlight will have shifted to other things. It’s done this way because in many cases it works.

Properly releasing information about a guild member’s departure is kind of like that. Obviously no one can “miss” the story, since they’ll notice when that player stops showing up to raids. But you can still mitigate the damage by being smart:

  • Don’t announce it at the start of a raid. It’s so tempting to do this. It’s probably the first time everyone is all together on voice chat since the person left. But it can create a horrible distraction right when everyone needs to focus. That can lead to mental mistakes and a bad run. And that in turn can lead your raiders to conclude that the team is doomed without that person who quit. Panic sets in and people start to look at other guilds. Timing the announcement this way is a recipe for disaster.
  • Don’t announce it at the end of a raid. Everyone is exhausted and probably ready to go to sleep if you raid at night. When you drop this bombshell on them then, they’ll feel like you misled them by holding on to that information for the whole run. They might lose sleep over it, and then it will seem like a much bigger problem in their minds than it might have otherwise.
  • Don’t wait too long. Your raiders will already know something is up. Odds are a few people saw the person gquit. Rumors will spread. The longer you let it go entirely unaddressed, the worse it will be. You also don’t want to start lying about it in order to delay the inevitable. That will cause a loss of faith in the leadership.

Instead, once the person leaves, you should have as many officers as possible meet on short notice. Discuss the departure and what the officers plan to do about it. Then make the announcement on a non-raid day if at all possible. If it’s not possible, give people a few hours before zone-in to process the news.

Your raiders will go through the stages of grief once they hear about this. You want as many of them as possible to reach the acceptance stage before you start pulling bosses.

Everything about this sucks, but that’s one of the big reasons why officers exist: to help the guild survive a potential crisis like this. You’ll need effective and timely communication, proactive problem solving, and the emotional intelligence to understand what your raiders are going through and how you can help them move past this. Keeping morale from cratering is your top priority, however you need to do that while remaining honest with your guild members.

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