We’ve recently had an influx of recruits to our guild – one is a returning guildy, the others, his “real life” (RL) friends: a group of at least four and potentially six new members, all of whom are experienced raiders and pvpers, looking for a new place to call home and get into end-content. They’re coming from a valiant but failed attempt at starting up their own raiding guild on a low-population server and I admit that the fact that they’re coming en masse has raised some eyebrows. We’ve been burned in the not-so-distant past by just such a situation, where a group of RL friends tromped in, felt they could take over the place, and were (not) promptly (enough) escorted out the door by the rest of the guild. That group came highly recommended by some devoted guildies and it was a huge surprise and the end of a few friendships when things turned out the way they did. Ever the optimist, I expect things to be different this time around (the returning guildy is my son) but one of my officers is working hard to refrain from scowling at me, I think, and a couple others keep hinting doubt.
Recruiting is part and parcel of guild leadership and we have a fairly open recruitment process; I’m frequently asked what I’m “looking for” (class, spec, type of RP) and my answer is the same every time: I’m looking for good people who will enhance our community. That community is established and fairly self-regulating… a unique situation for people who come from other guilds, particularly those where there is little or no moderation of the chat and it’s a dog eat dog environment. We’ve had a few like that. Those recruits need a bit of guidance and a healthy dose of patience while they learn to relax and go with the flow of… well, niceness. We’ve had a few refugees from hardcore raiding guilds too, who want to raid but not be yelled at; some of these last but most don’t, as we’re far too patient with the learners. But, meh, we were all newbs once.
The thing is, any new recruit is going to need time to settle in and learn the lay of the land, the lilt of the speech, regardless of whether they come in as a group or a lone agent. There are more risks with groups that come in together, of course, particularly if they have just left a guild that is falling apart. Sometimes they erroneously view their joining as a guild “merger” – a misconception that I am careful to correct immediately. Our guild is in no danger of going belly up, with or without them. But typically the biggest challenge we have as leaders is to break up the cliques; close friendships are healthy and welcome, exclusivity is not. The key here is to include them in plenty of activities, even the mundane ones, and really make them feel a part of the family. That goes further to breaking up cliques than anything, as new friendships are formed and a true sense of unity emerges.
Of course, that’s where we failed the last time we had a large group come in. We were in the midst of Icecrown Citadel progression and, rather than halt our steady march forward (into the final wings), we simply formed a second raid group, filling it out with alts who could help the new ones learn the content and gain gear and experience. Even so, the group was never fully integrated into the guild and as a result never developed that sense of unity and loyalty to the team. They felt stymied by leadership when we wouldn’t bend to their demands for stricter raid rules and eventually decided to run their own raids, excluding all of the guild except for their own friends (the original group) and seeking outside the guild to fill their raid. And that was the end of their relationship with us.
It’s a tricky question though, and one I’m not sure I have an easy answer for yet: is it worth it to compromise a group that has worked steadily on progression in order to integrate newcomers? In a raiding guild, the answer would be clear – you’re either qualified or you’re not. If not, come back when you’ve got better gear and an optimal spec and rotation. But we’re not like that; we value people more than progression. Still, is it fair to the people who have spent hours wiping while we learned, say, Professor Putricide to ask them to carry along a group of newcomers through another several hours of learning? I want to say no. But I’ve seen the consequences of that too, where there ends up being feelings of competition within the team, since one wants what the other has – especially when one of them makes it look easy. I’m still debating that one internally.
Anyway, I don’t think we’ll have the same problem with my son and his friends, if for no other reason than that I know them all personally and can drive over to their houses to whack ‘em for real if need be. In the meantime, I’m grateful that the content is fresh for all of us and I don’t have to determine where they might fit in. I’ve got time to get them really integrated into the guild, before all the “srs bzns” of raiding begins.