Raiding is an interesting activity, in that everyone who is there generally wants to be there, but is motivated by end results rather than the process itself. I often think of it as very similar to my experiences at uni – I didn’t enjoy being in classes and lectures, but I was looking forward to the end result of my studies. The problem with this is it gets very easy to stop putting in 100% effort when you aren’t all that interested in the current process. When you have a raid of 25 people who suddenly aren’t interested in the process… well, things can get messy. When things get messy, progression is slowed, repair bills go up, and people aren’t happy.
What can you, as the raid leader, class leader, or even lowly raiding peon like myself do in this sort of situation?
1. Ensure that you show you are as motivated as possible.
Enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Do your very best to behave in a manner which shows you are looking forward to the raid, you are prepared, and you enjoy the company of those around you. Even if you really aren’t feeling up to scratch, bluff your way through. Encourage your fellow raid mates, and please keep the conversation over trash light hearted and fun! You have enough of that ‘serious concentration’ stuff to worry about on the bosses – if you feel comfortable with the trash, have a bit of fun while you are doing it!
2. Keep everything fair and above board.
This is true for all aspects of raiding. You just goofed up? Admit it, apologise and move on. Some loot just dropped? Ensure that you (and everybody else, if you are in charge) adhere to the principles of the loot system in place. I often go above and beyond the requirements of the loot system, following the basic philosophy that I only deserve one upgrade per raid, and if someone else needs an upgrade more than I do, I’ll think twice about taking it.
Remember, people are often motivated by the loot at the end of the fight, and if they feel their chances at loot are hindered, they wont be so motivated to do their best. Unfair loot distribution builds distrust and resentment in raids. Establish rules with the guild and stick to them, but never be afraid to make amendments when a loophole is found and exploited. You know there is something wrong when you have dedicated raiders who never seem to get upgrades, or some people who just get too much.
If you haven’t researched a fight, don’t be afraid to admit it. While (generally speaking) you should do your reading before your raiding, you can occasionally be taken by surprise and not have enough time to read up. Ask questions!
3. When things are looking grim, keep your chin up.
Sometimes a raid will wipe. A lot. Sometimes on the silliest of things! It can be exceedingly difficult, but complaining about how useless people are, your repair bill, or the time wasted can often do more harm than good. Don’t be afraid to criticise, but criticise in a manner which is productive. Rather than ‘What the hell were you all doing?’, try something along the lines of ‘This is what seemed to go wrong there. Let’s work on that for the next time’. People aren’t perfect, and allowances have to be made. I mentioned earlier that enthusiasm breeds enthusiasm. Well, mistakes also breed mistakes. People get nervous in an environment where yelling happens after mistakes, and more mistakes are made. Try not to let the cycle start in the first place.
4. Look for a way to use your damage meter effectively.
I have talked about this many times. Simply linking a damage meter and saying Players X, Y and Z need to improve isn’t going to cut it. More often than not, this will leave your raiders feeling anxious or upset, which will lessen their output. It also encourages elitism in the raid, which is just outright nasty. Also discourage excessive boasting, as this does not foster a positive group attitude.
Feel free to point out those who did well in public. Don’t always go for the straight ‘damage/healing done’ option, either. Comments like ‘Healer X has really improved on cutting back their overhealing!’ work beautifully. Take notice of exactly what other people are doing, and find something nice to say about it. Find a player who’s slacking? Whisper them with your concerns, don’t voice them in raid. This is the sort of job that allows your class/role leaders to really shine.
Remember, positive feedback is much more effective than criticism. While both are necessary, always try to find a positive comment.
5. Reward your raiders
Whether this be a reward built into your loot system, guild ranks, or even a silly fun guild event, your raiders appreciate thanks. Dedicated raiders give up a great deal of time, and quite often for very little thanks apart from the occasional piece of loot. Remember to include all your raiders in your thanks – thanking just the tanks and the healers isn’t going to cut it. However, your thanks also need to be sincere. Raiders should also thank their raid leaders, who spend a tremendous amount of time getting ready for a raid, ensuring they know every pull backwards and forwards, and getting everybody together. If being a raider isn’t an easy job, think how difficult it is to lead all those people. There’s a reason why the expression ‘herding cats’ is often used in regards to raid leadership.
No doubt there are things that I have forgotten to mention here. I do not mean for this to be a comprehensive list. These are just the basics that many people seem to forget, or just plain don’t think of. While this may not seem especially relevant at the moment with Burning Crusade coming to a close, much of this can also be applied to 5 man instancing, and raiding in the future.