“All the world’s a game,
And all the men and women merely gamers”
With apologies to William Shakespeare
This is a tough subject for me and one that comes from recent experience. You see, it’s about how guilds change and how that change is managed by guild leadership.
Some change is inevitable, such as when Blizzard changes the game. Other changes are brought about by the continual joining and leaving of members. Some are even evolutionary, brought about by a gradual shift in focus or change in direction.
Change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Done right it helps keep your members involved and informed as part of the decision making process. When it’s done badly it causes the opposite, alienating guild members and ultimately leading to them leaving the guild.
The key thing is communication – as the needs of the guild change you need to be able to keep your members involved and informed. If you’re not good at this then find someone who is and ask for their help. A tricky problem unresolved can have an impact on morale, performance and ultimately membership
Unsatisfied players are something that guild officers need to be aware of, with potential conflicts dealt with effectively. It’s a player’s market, with several guilds looking for all types of players to help support them. More than that, a player that actively works against the guild can harm future recruitment and seek to pull other members away, making the problem even bigger.
If you think your guild needs to change in some way then these simple steps should be enough to tell you if it’s really needed.
- How does the change reflect on the Guild Charter, Manifesto or similar? Does it promote that charter or work against it? By the way, if you don’t have a guild charter then you should really look at writing one.
- Is the change needed? Has something happened which has resulted in a need for the change? Is the guild being held back by not changing? If neither are the case then ask yourself if it’s really needed. Focus on the things that really matter to your members.
- Have I considered the circumstances of other members? After all, just because the proposed change fits in with your own situation doesn’t mean that it will for the rest of your members.
- Does the change increase or decrease the freedoms of your membership, and does it offer members compensation for those loss of freedoms? Does it demonstrate a lack of trust in your players?
- Have you consulted your members on what they think the change should look like, or are you looking to press ahead with only changes proposed by you?
Even though there are incentives to keep people in your guild (guild perks, constant raid progress, etc) these only go so far. Even such lures as the Caster Legendary Staff are just pixels at the end of the day, temporary and transient. Although they help prevent casual guild-hopping, they’re not strong enough to keep members that are dissatisfied with how things are being handled.
By contrast it’s the softer things that really work to retain members. By making your members feel included in how change is managed and giving them the ability to help shape that change, you’re much more likely to win them over and develop change that lasts. Guilds that are great at involving and communicating with their members won’t just outlive the current expansion but the entire game as well.