Attracting Bees: Keeping Your Raid Team

When I wrote yesterday’s post I was thinking of some past issues I’ve had with guild teams in keeping raiders pushing through content.  That led me to a whole kettle of thoughts on guilds and raiding — what to do in certain situations, how to keep raiders happy, how to fry your raid team — I even posted another shared topic on Blog Azeroth about it.  So this week will be dedicated to raiding teams and guilds, ending with my BA Topic post on Friday.

You attract more bees with sugar than vinegar.

That’s the old maxim for building personal and team relationships — positive reinforcement trumps negative in any debate over what options are best for encouraging, building, and succeeding with players on your team.  There’s some truth to that — certainly a larger number of players will react favorably to positive reinforcement — it will keep them more engaged, interested, and willing to come back to kill again.

However, there are a few deviants out there — I happen to be one of them — who react equally well or better when faced with negative reinforcement.  This type of personality tries harder, pushes more, and generally can whip out a stellar A performance right after being told that they are the failures of the universe.

So, what’s a raid leader to do?

Learn the Personalities of Your Raid Team

You will not be able to easily decide which raid members will wilt under a criticism and which will bear up and perform.  Until you know, it’s generally best to use the sugar method, congratulating your team at every turn — if you can’t think of something — congratulate them for living as long as they did, or that the boss is down to 35% before you wiped — anything will work for true positive people — they just want to hear “good job.”

Know Your Own Faults

Raid leaders themselves tend to fall into the sugar or vinegar category.

If you’re a sugar coater, just know, you’re making your vinegar raiders roll their eyes and think you’re a great big carebear.  They’ll still perform, but they probably won’t respect your instructions — a bad place to be.  Make sure if you have massive, over-ramping fail on a fight, that you mention it.  In order to not deter your sugary raid members, keep it relaxed and easy-going.

We need more dps in phase 3.

Healers need to focus on the main tank when he enrages.

If you can generalize, that’s great — the sugars won’t feel like they are being persecuted, and the vinegars will assume that they need to do more.

If you’re an acid churning machine ready to unleash the fail-speech anytime raid performance is not up to par — watch out!  Unless you have a 100% vinegar team you will burnout your sugars quickly.  There are some things that you can do to appease your sugars and keep them performing for you.  Most importantly, if you’re on a binge rant, send a /tell to your favorite sugar telling him what a great job he did.  You won’t want to — it goes against every grain in your vinegar drenched body, but that sugar will remember it and perform for you.

Surprise Works Wonders

Nothing will put the shock into your raiders more than changing your normal teddy-bear lead style into a snarling savage or a spewing complainer extolling the virtues of the team.

It is o.k. to tell your raid team that they are not at par or to speak with a raider about his faults in executing a fight.

The first part of that can be done over vent — if you are a calm sugar coater, just not giving your team any positive reinforcement on a fight will be a clear indicator that they are underperforming.  Add on top of that specific points of contention — “We need x, y, and z to happen on time!” — will likely shock your sweeties into a state of slight, frenzied panic.  Sending a /tell to individual raiders about problems they are having with the raid is an acceptable way to resolve long-standing issues, and to clear up confusion.  Sometimes people don’t even realize they are having a problem until someone makes matters more personal than general raid strategy.

Praise should be given without reservation when mastering new fights, or when a fight is executed perfectly.

Vinegary raid leaders tend to expect perfection.  Since it is expected, when perfection is achieved, it seems to garner minimal interest or commentary.  This is a mistake.  Even vinegary raid members like a “well done” pat on the back from time to time — they are willing and more than happy to take an oratory beating after every fight in order to get it — but that does not mean they should never hear praise.  Your raiders may not know what happened to their normally spiky raid lead, but they will appreciate the sugar, and be more than happy to take back your vinegar on the next fight.

Make Your Raid Fun

This is going to be different for everyone.  These are some examples that different raid leaders used — you will have to really get to know your raid team and be a MEMBER (not just a leader) of that team to really keep the spark alive in your own team.  Whether you lead by sugar or vinegar, you should still have fun!

Unless you raided with me at some point, some of these will make no sense, but they WERE part of the giggles in vent — just trust me.

  • “Fun” hats for ready checks
  • Funeral litany for the death of Mr. Bigglesworth
  • FACE CAKE
  • -.-
  • Pulling the dungeon and everyone leaving as the sole /afk member eats it (It wasn’t me… honest!)
  • Having an /afk member on /follow get dragged back to the entrance… or left in the slimes (/sigh, yes, it was me)
  • Bear butt in the food
  • Battle rez rotation for your favorite dps

Trust Yourself

You should know your own strengths and weaknesses as a raid leader — you should definitely know if you’re a sugar or a vinegar.  Totally changing your raid lead style will be off-putting and confusing for your raiders, but modifying your leadership style to connect with more of your members — and to put more fun in your raid — can help strengthen your raiding team.  As you learn your raiders, keep in mind their sugar or vinegar tendencies, and keep them motivated in the way that works best for THEM.  If you’re a sugar, don’t change it — but make sure your /tells are getting to  your vinegars noting their deficiencies.  Same goes for you vinegars!  If you have sugars, treat them right, send them some /tells of encouragement, and you will have a stronger and more stable team.

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9 thoughts on “Attracting Bees: Keeping Your Raid Team

  1. I am so glad you addressed this point. It seems to be common thought in most guilds at this point that you have to deal with being over-nice to everyone just so they wont ditch you and make your 25 man progression impossible. I understand just wanting to do the content and that being forefront on a raid leaders mind. "If i act negatively im going to scare off 25% of my raiders and not even be able to make it here anymore at all"

    That being said I am a fairly big vinegar. I HATE it when people get praised for failure. I deal with it because its the norm. But for gosh darns sake if i make a mistake I had better dang well hear about it. I like to think the reason I make mistakes for the most part is because i dont know better or dont fully understand my roll in the fight. I cant always just figure it out on my own as fast as the raid needs, so a well placed 'hey, r-tard step it up here, here and here' goes a long way for me. Sure it makes me a little over self-aware but it definately gets my game up the fastest.

    I agree with the last part of your post the most tho. If i get screamed a for an hour but eventually we down the boss flawlessly I had better hear about that too. An Attaboy, even a small one, that is well deserved makes the boss kill just that one step sweeter.

    I understand from a raid lead position its terribly difficult to judge who is sugar and who is vinegar, but i think its something that should be addressed with new and existing guilds throughout WOW. Be open with your guild and honest. Let them know if were not performing were goin to hear about it, and throw in a healthy dose of attaboys in there for progress (however small). Im sure theres a perfect balance out there, but ive never seen it in action.

    • Sheesh hon, you got a book :) I'm glad you agree, and I hope this helps a floundering raid leader find his or her feet and voice with their team.

  2. I'm really glad you wrote about this topic.

    I've been thinking a lot about this myself. Switching from a sugary to a vinegary guild, I was surprised at exactly how diversely people are motivated.

    One of my first raids in a new guild, we were having trouble with Faction Champs (I think on heroic, but I can't remember) and the raid leader was swearing up a storm. While it didn't really bother me, I was shocked. I had NEVER heard that kind of language coming from a raid leader before. What was more shocking though, was realizing exactly how well the raid responded. The team stepped up their game and FC went down. That never would have worked in my old guild. With them, the slightest signs of accusations would cause half the team to just give up.

    Personally, I think I'm somewhere in the middle. The swearing and scolding doesn't really bother me, I automatically block it out, but it doesn't help me either. If I screw up, it's because I had a hand spasm, or I'm having a bad night, or my contact lenses fell out, or whatever and no amount of criticism is going to change that. I give all I can give all the time and if it's not enough, then all I can do more is step out.

    That said, if there's something I'm doing wrong because I'm missing information, I want to be told directly what I need to know. There's no point in beating around the bush or drowning advice in compliments.

    As for sugar, praise is always nice, but I don't like it unless I'm in a new situation and I'm not sure if I'm doing it right. I want it to be honest, I'm not going to learn if I'm being praised for doing something wrong.

    I guess I'm one of those hard to please, always in the middle people, ha!

    • Raid leaders definitely have a tough job — it's always a thin line, and since they're the ones soothing/screaming the raid team along at every turn, it's easy for them to be criticized for their behavior. They're too tough, they're not tough enough, what were they thinking bringing the 1500 dps mage???

  3. Bear butts in the food? Battle rez rotations for naughty mages? Whoever would do such a thing? Raiding is serious business! :p

    Foster guild jokes (we tease because we love you, really we do), especially if it's you (GM or RL) they are laughing at. Sometimes even grown ups need to be goofy. The things that make us smile and laugh together also help hold us together and make us willing to stick it out on wipe nights because we're still having fun being together.

    Any good team needs the coaches who will tell you to work harder and how to do stuff better and the cheerleaders who will tell you how great you're doing just trying and how glad they are that you're there. Sometimes that's one person. More often it's a sugar and a vinegar working together to get the most out of the people they have.

    I tend to be a sugar. I get enough vinegar at work. When I do pull a little vinegar I get accused of breaking out the "mom" voice, but it usually works. "I'm not mad, I am disappointed because I know you can do so much better." is sometimes more powerful than cussing and yelling. Someone who yells at you can make you feel bad and discouraged. Someone who has faith that you can do better can motivate you to prove to them that you can.

    When all else fails, offer cookies. :D

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