Monthly Archives: November 2014

Firing people

The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.”  ―Eddard Stark

It’s actually taken me a while to figure out why this is one of my least favorite parts of my position as raid lead. Not because I expected to enjoy firing people, that seems unreasonably cruel, but because I tend to be a highly pragmatic person. I certainly don’t have any trouble correcting someone when I feel they’re not performing up to snuff in raid. I don’t have any particular issues with social anxiety. If anything I’m a touch misanthropic. But having to actually remove someone from the raid team, not through a schedule misalignment or having them leave for another team, really does bother me. And after some extended reflection on the subject I’ve come to the following conclusion.

It should.

Giving somebody a spot on our raid team is a vote of confidence. Further than that it’s an extension of trust. I, and by extension the officers and team in general, am trusting you. I’m trusting you to show up on time. I’m trusting you to do your best to get along with your teammates. I’m trusting you to continue researching your class. I’m trusting you to love this game the way we do. And by the time we get to the firing stage that trust has in some way been violated.

There are a handful of ways to get to that point. Sometimes someone simply didn’t fit in socially and it caused waves or, god forbid, drama. Sometimes they’ve lost their passion for the game and aren’t keeping up on their class knowledge or maintenance activities. Sometimes I’ve simply been too generous with a raid spot, an occurrence that is guaranteed to happen in a guild as newbie-friendly as ours, and they completely lack sufficient skills or dedication to be on the team. And when we get to one of these states, I always feel a bit responsible. Which has led me to make and stand by a policy of mine.

If someone is going to be removed from the team, it’s the raid-leader’s responsibility to do it. I gave them the ultimate thumbs-up. Most raiders go through an approval process with the officers, especially now as we attempt to make that ever-difficult transition from friends-and-family raid team to a team capable of rapid mythic progression. But ultimately if someone is on the team it’s because I let them on the team and to have to remove them makes me feel like I’ve failed them in some way. I agreed to give them a raid spot. I agreed to lead them to the best of my ability. I also agreed to put sufficient resources at their disposal, be it knowledgeable class leads or accurate learning material, to allow them to raid at the level we expect, provided they put in the necessary work.

But somewhere along the line I made a misjudgment. I may have misjudged their ability. I may have misjudged their personality. I may have misjudged their passion for the game. An error was made somewhere, and for that fact alone I owe it to them to make their removal as personal and cordial as I can.

You remove people over voice chat. Think of it like breaking up with someone. No hiding behind in game mails or chat windows. They deserve to hear it from you, not via text or rumor-mill. For many raid leaders it’s possible that this isn’t an issue. But if it’s something you’re hesitant about or have trouble with, think of it as the price of your additional authority. You wanted to be the one in charge, (if you didn’t that’s a whole other problem) which means you get some of the dirty jobs along with the additional privileges.

Don’t make it any more personal than it has to be. The goal is not to make them feel like they’ve failed. The goal is to let them know where the discontinuity is. Somehow this raider and the team at large have fallen out of sync. Either they’re unwilling or unable to raid at the expected level or they’re unable to mesh socially with the team for one reason or another. Let them know what the problem is. If you’ve been doing your job as raid-leader properly then their dismissal shouldn’t come as a surprise. Almost everyone I’ve had to remove from our team so far has pretty much known what was coming when I first called them in vent.

Personally, assuming I’m not removing someone for being a truly horrible human being, I like to take some time to let them know what their strengths are. There’s no need for false flattery, but they’re already going to be a little emotionally vulnerable at this point, there’s no harm in softening the blow a bit. Once they know why you’re parting ways, feel free to throw in one of their strengths. They must have some, otherwise they wouldn’t be raiding with you. Call out their raid awareness, solid mechanics, or even positive attitude.

Finally, thank them. Every time you get to zone into a raid, it’s because the other 9 or 24 people on your raid team took the time to show up and join you. Raiding is by definition a group effort. So thank them for the time they’ve put in on your team, and wish them well in the future. Were the positions reversed, you would want them to do the same for you.


Everything starts somewhere, though many physicists disagree. But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder how the snowplough driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of words.

― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

I tend to over-think things. A habit which, judging by the above passage, I would wager I share with Sir Pratchett. So this post has been started at least a half-dozen times, and I have spent sufficient time saying ‘I should blog’ to have pontificated myself breathless any number of times at this point. Nonetheless, here we are and I’m actually getting started. For quite some time now I’ve wanted to put proverbial pen to paper, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost I feel that blogging, assuming I can produce at least one or two posts that help someone somewhere, is a good way to give back to the community that has given me so much. I have benefited enormously from the work of others. As a new raider and raid-leader I have had to learn a lot this past expansion, and I couldn’t have done it without the large amount of help that I have received from the community, whether it took the form of podcasts, spreadsheets, advice posts, or pages and pages of theorycrafting.

In addition I’ve gotten to talk to many of the aforementioned community people whose work has helped me so much, be it on twitter or in person at Blizzcon. They have been, to the last, very kind and accepting, always happy to chat about the game that we all know and love. I have to admit that in the face of such cheerful work and kind representation on their part I feel somewhat compelled to pitch in where I can. If they can put in countless collective hours in order to help me get those progression kills then surely I can devote a few hours a week to possibly helping the next person out. I couldn’t possibly tell you how much time Theck (, Hamlet (, Dayani (, and of course the guys at Convert to Raid ( have collectively saved me but I can safely say it’s a LOT, and those are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. (Am I allowed to use proverbial twice in my first post?)

Thirdly the blog I have in mind is something I very much would’ve liked to have had available when I first started this guild. In my searches across the wow-related interwebs I have come across precious few details on how people organize and operate heroic (now mythic) raiding guilds and teams. I found it some of the hardest material to locate. While I can’t call myself an expert on the subject these are issues and situations that I deal with daily, so hopefully by sharing some of the details, as well as what has worked for us so far and what hasn’t, I can help smooth out someone else’s journey as they seek to make the transition from What’s a raid cooldown? to Holy crap that boss was easy.

Finally I feel that this will be a useful exercise for me as well. Nothing shows you what you actually know like trying to teach it to someone else. This has been my experience across any of the fields I’ve ever tried to teach. So if I’m lucky maybe some of these rough ideas knocking around inside my head will take a little clearer shape after I try and explain them in a reasonably sane manner to the internet at large.

So now that I’ve justified this whole operation to myself. I’ll simply say that here will be some things that have crossed my mind in the course of my journeys across Azeroth. I hope that they will inform and possibly even entertain from time to time, and thanks for taking the time to read them.