But He's Been Here Forever

In my guild, we have a long-time member, I'll call him Mark. He's a good and friendly person, but he's definitely not officer material. Passive-aggressive, flaky, self-centered. Mark's been pining for officership for years.

I haven't been in officership for a while (because I've been raiding more diapers than instances), but I was surprised to learn of Mark's recent promotion to officer.

An officer friend chatted me up:

"Hey, how you doing?"

"Good. So what happened with Mark?"

<pause>

"What do you mean?"

"I couldn't help but notice that he's an officer now."

"Yeah."

"So, what happened?"

<pause>

"Well, he's been here forever…"

Oh… crap.

You might think that saying that someone is flaky and self-centered is harsh. It isn't. We're not talking about how he is in guild chat, how fun he is to play with, or how much he loves his mother. We're talking about his leadership abilities.

Does this make me a jerk? Eh, probably. It'd be nicer to just focus on why we like having him around and why everyone greets him when he logs on.

But leading a guild isn't hanging out with someone, or reminiscing over the good times. It's very much like running a business–it's just that your guild's business is Fun. You have to make sure that the leaders of the organization are actively pedaling the organization in the direction of that goal. If your goal was to make money, would you hire someone who caused you to lose money? If your goal was to hand out toys to kids, would you hire someone who broke half the toys?

Whatever the goal of your guild, whether it's raiding, pvping, leveling, roleplaying, or anything else, being an officer is sharing the mechanical and social burden of running the guild. Nothing else. Being an officer is not a reward and it is not a way to retain guild members. Officers exist for no reason other than to help run the guild. Strong friendships often do grow from people sharing officer duties, but you can't confuse this with the work that needs to be done. Two officers might end up being good friends, but two friends might not end up being good officers.

But what's the downside? Sure, Mark might not really help that much, but what does it hurt to have him there?

If someone is an officer and does not reduce the amount of work, or worse, adds to the amount of work, then the eventual reaction of everyone actually doing the work is, and I quote:

"What the $#%@?"

Having Mark there means that the other officers are doing everything they had to do before while carrying Mark's dead weight, and he happens to be running around with the same title that they are. Mark gets all of the pride of "being part" of running a successful guild and isn't doing any of the work! This lowers morale for the working officers, whether they're aware of this fact or not.

It might feel good or noble to ignore Mark's downside as you promote him, but it's choices like this that subtly weaken a guild and make it less resilient to the entropy and drama that is a long-term guild's constant companion.

So when you think of adding to the guild leadership, ask the other officers: "What exactly will this person help us with? How is having this person promoted going to make us stronger as a group?" List those reasons. Be fair, be impartial, but be honest. Make sure that your prospective officer brings enough substance to the role.

Being in the guild forever?

Not even close.

More Words!

2 thoughts on “But He's Been Here Forever”

  1. This comes at an interesting time.

    My husband just resigned his officership in our guild and I'm thinking of following suit. We're getting no job satisfaction from officership anymore, all the work, none of the benefits, all of the ulcers (in the case of Boon), and for me, a blow-up a few months back has me abstaining from all officer-related duties and responsibilities. Which makes me wonder if I'm not dead-weight in the officer channel myself. I've basically scaled back all my participation to: 'someone needs a guild invite? okay, name?' And that hardly seems fair.

    And it's interefering with our friendship with our guild leader, who we're good friends with… unless we're discussing guild policy, then we seem to be at odds with all the time.

    It just doesn't seem worth it anymore.

  2. Hey Kikidas! Most of the time, a person's instincts on these matters is correct. I always counsel conflicted officers to try to communicate the problems with the GM first. It sounds like you already have, though. If it's already gotten in the way of your friendship, maybe a graceful descent is the right move? There's no need to have a cloud hanging over you.

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