Motivation is an interesting thing. What motivates someone to do what they do is very different from person to person, and occasionally you just cannot make any sense of another’s motivations whatsoever. Trolls in particular.
But as a raid leader in WoW, I like to ensure what my raid is offering aligns with my players’ motivations, so they’re inclined to stick around. High turnover in large social guilds is quite common, and therefore player retention is a rather difficult venture.
Which is all really fancy-schmancy talk to say that we need to be having fun. Whether you enjoy solving difficult problems that requires ten to twenty-five people, just like hitting Internet dragons in the face, or love the loot, as a raid leader I need to make sure it happens. So what happens when the loot stops flowing, the kills stop coming, and the difficult problems you’re facing aren’t the bosses, but the players themselves?
I’ll be the first to admit, I hate, hate, hate having to confront players, whether it’s poor behaviour or poor performance. It’s the least fun part of the job, but it has to be done. Thankfully, poor behaviour is easier to handle, since eventually once you’ve addressed the issue a couple times and it keeps on occurring, you can easily just write them off as a troll and boot them (and have done so in the past). Their motivation is to be a jerk, and I won’t tolerate that, because then no one is having fun. But poor performance...
I could treat it like a business and say, oh, your numbers must be at this level in x weeks or you’re out! And that at least gives actionable feedback, but that’s super impersonal. Maybe if I was running Method or Blood Legion or some other top guild that’d make sense. But in a social guild? By itself it won’t work. It needs to be tempered by humanity, or you come off as a jerk and could potentially drive those raid members out of the guild, which is definitely something I don’t want, since raiding is but a small part of what our guild does. Along with high turnover making it difficult to find raiders, you can’t just threaten expulsion from the raid as a consequence of underperforming, because then we just don’t raid at all, which sucks.
So what to do when someone isn’t quite cutting it? Well, again, it comes down to motivation. How does the raid leader motivate the raiders to get their game on? So far, in nearly four years of raid leading, often just pointing it out is sufficient. These folks want to get boss kills, and they’re team players, so that’s their motivation to get better. Many of them are totally capable of getting research done on their own time and two to three weeks later, are kicking ass and taking names. But there’s another subset of players that are a concern: players who aren’t motivated to change, and players who are motivated but incapable of doing so.
I’ve found players who aren’t motivated to change often weed themselves out of the group, because that lack of motivation shows up in their attendance. They’re constantly late, or bailing on the raid. Eventually you’ll have to drop them, though, or you’ll never make progress. I’ve been lucky that I’ve never actively had to boot underachievers from my raids so far, as bad attendance falls under bad behavior and makes it easy to remove them.
Finally, we have the folks who are motivated to fix their issues, but just cannot for some reason figure it out. I’ve yet to solve this particular issue. The player knows they’re not cutting it, and even asks for help, but either they’re not applying that help, or not doing so correctly, because you see no improvements from week to week. They’re clearly doing the research, but they’re unable to relate that to their own play. At that point in time you need to spend some serious quality time with that player to root out the source of their problems. Are they struggling with crappy UI or crippling lag? Is there a Rosetta stone that can make everything click, or is the player just lazy when it comes to actually implementing feedback? Are they truly motivated to make things work? It’s something I’ve struggled with, because I prefer to give folks the benefit of the doubt rather than just assuming they’re bad and should feel bad.
World of Warcraft is the king of the MMO heap because it knows how to motivate players to keep playing, and I could be king of the Raid Leaders if I could figure out how to motivate players to step up their game.