Over the course of your tenure as a leader you will discover that not every role or duty requires an officer’s touch. In some instances, you may even learn that it is best to let certain members handle a few things for you. Normally these members are long serving and don’t minding picking up an extra duty or two just to keep the organization running smoothly. I’ve taken to referring to these players as franchise members. Usually they are not officially recognized as anything but a member. Despite that fact, everyone generally feels that these members are important. In some organizations, they’re simply senior members, founding members, or something else along those lines. Regardless of what they’re called, franchise members will crop up the longer your team remains active.
There are a few logical reasons for the appearance of franchise members within an organization. They will be members who are charismatic and willing to go the extra mile—like an officer might. They may also be someone who is willing to handle some of the workload that has fallen a bit behind. Further still, they may be a representation of all or some of your team members who feel like their voices are not being heard. Regardless of the reason why franchise members exist, you must handle them appropriately.
Overly helpful members who are extremely loyal to the team are a great resource. They bring positive morale, skilled play, and a good attitude to the organization. This goodwill capital can go a long way and should be nurtured, since those players might bring you information from those members who don’t feel comfortable talking to an officer. This role, as a bridge between the officer corps and the membership, is very important. In general, these are the folks for whom you want to look first when considering applicants to fill an officer vacancy. It is important to note, however, that they should not simply walk into any position! If a franchise member doesn’t meet your STAFF attributes and other requirements, that player is probably not a smart choice.
You also need to be careful when dealing with overachievers as potential officer candidates. Some are overachieving simply because they want to be officers and will quickly sour if they don’t receive the promotions they’re after. Others might think they want to be officers but really aren’t up for the commitments involved. In any event, these are usually popular members from your team and, if they were to depart, you risk losing others. You need to carefully balance your praise and rewards. Don’t give too much or lead them on with promises of officership. At the same time, don’t fail to recognize their contributions or crush their dreams by telling them they’ll never be an officer.
On the other side of things, you’ll find some members who want to do a little more to help the organization but have no interest in being a part of the leadership. I’ve found that a lot of these members are highly organized and want to bring that skill to where they see chaos. They want to help with the forums or with making the website more standards-compliant. Item inventories, crafting materials, and anything else of that nature also may be something they want to help with. Don’t be afraid to let them do so! If you’re behind, you should take all the help you can get. Just be sure you have visibility into what they’re doing. You don’t want to become so dependent on them in a particular area that work cannot be done without that member. Audit them every now and then, and ensure someone else understands the process. This way, should something take that member away from the game, you’re not left trying to figure out just what was happening.
Much like with the charismatic franchise members, you will also have some negative aspects with the organizers. I suggest to never give them more than one or two small activities to do at any given time. If you overload them and keep them as regular members, they might resent you. If they’re handling a huge portion of your duties, you’re also putting yourself in a risky situation should they leave and take the knowledge of how things are done. Finally, you want to be sure that a regular member is never doing more work than an officer or team leader. If that is the case, you either need another officer or you need to figure out why the ones you have are outsourcing their responsibilities to members who do not have the same obligations as the officers.
The final type of franchise member whom I frequently highlight is the most useful and most dangerous to a team. These are the faction leaders within your organization. They usually represent a small group of players that want things done differently. Sometimes, however, these players are speaking for a large portion of the organization. It is incredibly important to know which it is. I’ve seen situations where the whole membership was basically not on board with the leadership, and the membership’s chosen representative tried to bridge that gap. In some cases you can work that out, but in others you’re going to lose some people.
In the course of an organization’s life it will develop some factions. Even a guild as successful as Iniquity did so. Someone out there will always feel like you could do something differently and, in their minds, better. In a lot of cases, this someone will have a narrow view and miss the big picture. Generally, these players might assume one or two changes will make night into day. In most cases, they’re wrong and lack the broad view of the organization that the leadership team has. Regardless of this, you shouldn’t take a hard line against them.
The first step when dealing with a representative is to take the time and listen. Don’t put him off, cut him short, or act disinterested. Set aside a reasonable block of time and just let him talk for as long as he wants. If the problem is not serious, this alone will be your solution most of the time. If you hear the representative, those in the faction are then satisfied that you now have the information they want disseminated and will consider it. I cannot stress enough that no matter how bizarre the suggestions may be, you should listen! When they’re done, tell them you’ll consider it and call it a day.
Some factions are going to want change, and listening will not be enough. The group’s suggestions are going to come more as demands. This is a tricky subject; how you apply my method largely depends on your organization’s stability and play style. If the faction leader makes demands and gives you an ultimatum, it is better in the long-term for you to take an equally hard stance. Tell them you cannot accept demands and she is welcome to leave immediately, along with any other faction members who are displeased. Suggest that you are willing to compromise, but not if the attitude persists. If you give in to member demands, you may as well prepare to hand over your role as the leader. And beware: when it happens once, it will happen again. Never put yourself into a position like that.
If the faction represents a large or important part of your organization, you may not have the option to cut them loose. I still maintain that in the long-term it is a wiser choice, but not everyone can stand the losses. If you can’t lose them, don’t mention the part about the door and say you’re willing to compromise. Assuming the faction members are interested, you’re then going to have to meet them halfway.
When compromising with your members, you need to remember that the goal is to ensure that nobody gets what they want. That may seem counter to what most of us learn as the definition of compromise, but it is the truth. The members want a complete change and you want it to remain the same. If you meet in the middle, nobody gets what they want. This important definition should be your goal. Don’t let the members win the negotiation. At the same time, don’t let yourself win. If everyone is satisfied but didn’t get exactly what they wanted, you’ve done a good job.
In some cases, you will not reach a compromise. This is an unfortunate part of life and generally leads to a very large, organization-altering event. A prime example is if you have 70 percent of the team that wants to move into raiding and 30 percent that doesn’t. The only real compromise point is how often or seriously you raid. To the 30 percent, they might not want to raid at all, no matter what the circumstances. If you shift more toward raiding, you can expect to lose these members. If your leadership is part of that faction, you could stand to lose a huge portion of your organization. That may be the best choice for you. However, if you’re not interested in raiding and have a group of players who also aren’t, it could be in your best interest to take them and go start fresh while bidding the rest the best of luck in their new play style.
I recognize that when dealing with representatives of your membership, the situations you face will be far more complex than I’ve outlined here. That is all right, as this complexity is one of the reasons being a leader is a learning process. For example, I now handle issues in the Iniquity RIFT far differently than I did during the time of Iniquity EQ2. Over time you will evolve as a leader. You’ll also have things that you wish you could have done differently. We all make mistakes, but I can certainly help you avoid some of the big ones. In my experience, one of the biggest mistakes is ignoring your franchise members. Treat them right—but not special—and you’ll put yourself in a better position to handle your organization.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of The Guild Leader’s Companion 2nd Edition. Please check out the product page for more information and useful information on guild leadership.