Awesome article and have always enjoyed your blog!
An Officer's Guide To the Trial Period
I've touched the subjects of both applying and trial periods for people looking for new guilds, and there are plenty of outside guides written on how to recruit in general. Rarely do people mention how to evaluate a trial and to make him/her feel comfortable in your guild, though, and that's something I feel is just as important as recruiting and applying efficiently.
Every Sword Has Two Edges
The biggest thing that bothers me with a lot of raiding guilds is their self-righteous attitude when recruiting. They act like applying to their guild is an honor, and being accepted is an even bigger honor. "You're applying to us, not we to you!," they'll say, and then add, "And we don't owe you anything." While it's very true that the recruit is applying to your guild, and you're busy judging to see whether or not he will pass the trial, he's assessing the guild just as meticulously. He's watching how you handle loot, issue raid invites, discipline people for mistakes, and how well he fits in. He wants to know this guild is for him just as much as you want to know if he's for your guild. Officers never seem to remember that it's just as important to make sure he's happy. Treat him with respect, answer his questions, and don't make him feel like he's wasting your time when he asks you questions, simply because he's a recruit. Remember, without recruits, your guild would never be successful.
In the end, treating new members with respect and making them feel important right from the beginning is also good for your guild's growth. A lot of the members of my guild are with us today because how at home they felt initially, and it definitely helps contribute to the overall feel of our guild.
Make Him Feel Welcome
Joining a new guild is scary, especially if you transferred servers. You don't know a single person, you don't know how things are done, and you don't understand all the nicknames/inside jokes that are unique to every guild. What's worse is when you join a new guild it feels like people are ignoring you, as if you cease to be a person until your trial period is done. Believe me, I've been there, and it's an unpleasant feeling.
Instead of doing all the work yourself, take initiative and encourage people to make him feel at home. When he first joins the guild, be sure to welcome him in guild chat; people are sure to follow suit. If half the guild is chatting in vent, invite him to join. He might feel like he's intruding or annoying if he joined on his own volition. He also might be a little shy and not talk at first, but if it looks like the guild is making an effort to get to know him, then he'll warm up pretty quickly.
Run Activities Outside Raids
Heroics, 10-mans, alts, old world content, PvP, achievements... there are so many things you can do. When you're organizing these things, be sure to ask him if he wants to join, and make sure to get everyone on vent. It's good to see how he interacts with other members outside of raids because:
- He'll be less nervous and under pressure than he'll most likely be in raids, so he'll probably actually play better. Do you play your best when you know everyone is waiting for your mistakes and watching your every move? I know I don't.
- He'll warm up a bit because he'll feel like he's being included.
- You probably don't get to see how he fits in with other raiders during raids because that's generally a time of focus. Running off night activities gives you a chance to really assess if he meshes with your other members.
Does he show up on time, late, or early? Is he at the summoning stone, or is he always begging to be summoned? Is he fully repaired or is he the guy crying for an early repair mammoth? Does he take afk's during trash? Does he need to be told to buff (if applicable), or does he take initiative and does it without being told? Does he come prepared with consumables, and does he need to be told to use them? All these little things really make a difference when I'm assessing a new member. We're too busy handling other things to babysit people. If he needs to be told to do these things, privately approach him after the raid and explain it's required.
How does he play? Does he die to everything? Do you suspect he's a tunnel vision player? Is his dps/healing/tanking comparable to the others of his same class, and if not, is it a gear difference? If you know little about his class/spec/role, be sure to make sure you've assigned another officer or someone who understands the role to watch him. Be sure to look at recount during the raids if you have any questions about what abilities he's prioritizing to see if his rotation is what it should be. If your guild uses WWS/WMO/WoL, be sure to look at his play in depth after the raids.
How does he take instructions? Does he understand the first time, or do you have to repeat yourself? Is he a quick learner for bosses he's never done before? Does he need to be told when he makes a mistake, or does he learn from it the first time? To me, this is one of the most important things in a new raider. Gear can be obtained, and if it's a matter of numbers, you can teach him to press buttons better; but you can't teach someone to learn faster.
Make a list of questions and concerns for him. It's very important that you explain your concerns and give him constructive feedback. He probably wants feedback of some sort, but it's also a good test to see how he responds to your criticism. Watch him the next raid to see if he's made any improvement, and if he hasn't, make note of it.
Above all, though, communication is the most important part of the trial period, for both sides. If the officers don't communicate with the applicant, then he'll never know what he's doing wrong. In a perfect world, people fix their own mistakes. The reality is, though, that things don't get better on their own. There have been plenty of times where the officers in my guild and I groaned and put off talking to an applicant, instead hoping he would magically improve over time. If you don't tell people when they need to improve, then you're really being unfair when you take disciplinary action (or worse, telling the applicant he didn't pass his trial) for not playing well. From his perspective, he may think he's playing fine because no one's given him any sort of feedback, and then out of nowhere, he's being told he's not meeting your expectations. What expectations? If you didn't lay any out, how does he know to meet them? Communicate, people.
Give Him Time!
I'll admit, some of the best raiders and funnest personalities within my guild were people we almost judged too early. It's called a trial period for a reason, so don't make your final judgment within two days or even a week. Some people really just take a while to feel comfortable and open up, and some people also don't play their best when they know they're being judged.
This guide was originally published on my personal blog. I'm posting it on Tankspot so more people can have the opportunity to get something constructive out of it.
Awesome article and have always enjoyed your blog!
Very nice post. I think it applies to non raiding guilds as well. I find myself, as GM of a casual guild, constantly having to address the stigma of requiring an app. Unfortunately many of the guilds who require one have the attitude you described of seeing it as a priviledge to submit an app, but I try to explain that the process of applying (reading and agreeing to policies and filling out a thoughtful app) is a tool for both the guild and the prospective member. It gives me a way to see if our guild can meet their needs as a player and lets them know what would be expected of them if they decided to join. So far it has worked well for me both with my new horde guild (only a couple months old) and the guild I came from on the Alliance side that had been around since launch. Glad to see that there are folks out there who think similarly to the way I do in that it is a two way road and that ultimately this game is about people not just toons.
Very nice post, shamelessly I have linked to it in my guild forums officers lounge.
Hope you don't mind, but this is simply too awesome to let my officers not see it
Always strive for perfection, but realise you'll never reach it.