Posted by: ariedan | May 1, 2009

An Officer’s Guide to the Trial Period

I’ve touched the subjects of both applying and trial periods for people looking for new guilds, and there are plenty of outside guides written on how to recruit in general. Rarely do people mention how to evaluate a trial and to make him/her feel comfortable in your guild, though, and that’s something I feel is just as important as recruiting and applying efficiently.

Every Sword Has Two Edges

The biggest thing that bothers me with a lot of raiding guilds is their self-righteous attitude when recruiting. They act like applying to their guild is an honor, and being accepted is an even bigger honor. “You’re applying to us, not we to you!,” they’ll say, and then add, “And we don’t owe you anything.” While it’s very true that the recruit is applying to your guild, and you’re busy judging to see whether or not he* will pass the trial, he’s assessing the guild just as meticulously. He’s watching how you handle loot, issue raid invites, discipline people for mistakes, and how well he fits in. He wants to know this guild is for him just as much as you want to know if he’s for your guild. Officers never seem to remember that it’s just as important to make sure he’s happy. Treat him with respect, answer his questions, and don’t make him feel like he’s wasting your time when he asks you questions, simply because he’s a recruit. Remember, without recruits, your guild would never be successful.

In the end, treating new members with respect and making them feel important right from the beginning is also good for your guild’s growth. A lot of the members of my guild are with us today because how at home they felt initially, and it definitely helps contribute to the overall feel of our guild.

Make Him Feel Welcome

Joining a new guild is scary, especially if you transferred servers. You don’t know a single person, you don’t know how things are done, and you don’t understand all the nicknames/inside jokes that are unique to every guild. What’s worse is when you join a new guild it feels like people are ignoring you, as if you cease to be a person until your trial period is done. Believe me, I’ve been there, and it’s an unpleasant feeling.

Instead of doing all the work yourself, take initiative and encourage people to make him feel at home. When he first joins the guild, be sure to welcome him in guild chat; people are sure to follow suit. If half the guild is chatting in vent, invite him to join. He might feel like he’s intruding or annoying if he joined on his own volition. He also might be a little shy and not talk at first, but if it looks like the guild is making an effort to get to know him, then he’ll warm up pretty quickly.

Run Activities Outside Raids

Heroics, 10-mans, alts, old world content, PvP, achievements… there are so many things you can do. When you’re organizing these things, be sure to ask him if he wants to join, and make sure to get everyone on vent. It’s good to see how he interacts with other members outside of raids because:

  • He’ll be less nervous and under pressure than he’ll most likely be in raids, so he’ll probably actually play better. Do you play your best when you know everyone is waiting for your mistakes and watching your every move? I know I don’t.
  • He’ll warm up a bit because he’ll feel like he’s being included.
  • You probably don’t get to see how he fits in with other raiders during raids because that’s generally a time of focus. Running off night activities gives you a chance to really assess if he meshes with your other members.

Assess

Does he show up on time, late, or early? Is he at the summoning stone, or is he always begging to be summoned? Is he fully repaired or is he the guy crying for an early repair mammoth? Does he take afk’s during trash? Does he need to be told to buff (if applicable), or does he take initiative and does it without being told? Does he come prepared with consumables, and does he need to be told to use them? All these little things really make a difference when I’m assessing a new member. We’re too busy handling other things to babysit people. If he needs to be told to do these things, privately approach him after the raid and explain it’s required.

How does he play? Does he die to everything? Do you suspect he’s a tunnel vision player? Is his dps comparable to the others of his same class, and if not, is it a gear difference? If you know little about his class/spec/role, be sure to make sure you’ve assigned another officer or someone who understands the role to watch him. Be sure to look at recount during the raids if you have any questions about what abilities he’s prioritizing to see if his rotation is what it should be. If your guild uses WWS/WMO, be sure to look at his play in depth after the raids.

How does he take instructions? Does he understand the first time, or do you have to repeat yourself? Is he a quick learner for bosses he’s never done before? Does he need to be told when he makes a mistake, or does he learn from it the first time? To me, this is one of the most important things in a new raider. Gear can be obtained, and if it’s a matter of numbers, you can teach him to press buttons better; but you can’t teach someone to learn faster.

Communicate

Make a list of questions and concerns for him. It’s very important that you explain your concerns and give him constructive feedback. He probably wants feedback of some sort, but it’s also a good test to see how he responds to your criticism. Watch him the next raid to see if he’s made any improvement, and if he hasn’t, make note of it.

Above all, though, communication is the most important part of the trial period, for both sides. If the officers don’t communicate with the applicant, then he’ll never know what he’s doing wrong. In a perfect world, people fix their own mistakes. The reality is, though, that things don’t get better on their own. There have been plenty of times where the officers in my guild and I groaned and put off talking to an applicant, instead hoping he would magically improve over time. If you don’t tell people when they need to improve, then you’re really being unfair when you take disciplinary action (or worse, telling the applicant he didn’t pass his trial) for not playing well. From his perspective, he may think he’s playing fine because no one’s given him any sort of feedback, and then out of nowhere, he’s being told he’s not meeting your expectations. What expectations? If you didn’t lay any out, how does he know to meet them? Communicate, people.

Give Him Time!

I’ll admit, some of the best raiders and funnest personalities within my guild were people we almost judged too early. It’s called a trial period for a reason, so don’t make your final judgment within two days or even a week. Some people really just take a while to feel comfortable and open up, and some people also don’t play their best when they know they’re being judged.

*He/she/whatever! There was no way I was going to put that every time I needed to use a pronoun, and I’m too grammatically anal to be lazy and say “they.”

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Responses

  1. I had an English prof hand out a flyer to the class saying that writing “he” for gender-non-specific nouns like recruit, for example, was sexist. The suggestion was to write “he or she” every time. I decided to continue writing he solely because the alternative sounds silly in writing. Good on you for doing the same!

  2. Another alternative (mainly for longer works) is to alternate, using “he” for one scenario and then “she” for another.

    But I agree, I refuse to say “he or she” every time, and “he/she” can die in a fire. I can’t believe a language as sprawling and rich as English doesn’t have a gender-neutral pronoun for people.

  3. One could always use the gender-neutral pronoun ‘one’ but it makes one sound pompous. Not to mention it doesn’t always fit.

    Stick with ‘he’ or ‘she’ and (reasonable) people will know what you mean.

    P.S. I’m a regular lurker on many blogs and this is fast becoming one of my favourites. Always enjoyable, informative and well-written, so thanks very much!

  4. Good stuff, yo!

    “Joining a new guild is scary, especially if you transferred servers.”

    I’ve actually done two server transfers in my long tenure of raiding and even though I’d say I’m a pretty confident dude (maybe even cocky), it IS a little off-setting to have no one on your friends list when you log in for the first time.

    As a recruit, I recommend quickly adding your new guild officers to your friend’s list. It give you SOMEONE to have on there. Call it a security blanket, if you will – and I think you will.

    As a guild member, I recommend creating a class specific channel where like-minded people can talk. When you get a new recruit that’s your same class, quickly invite them to the channel. It’s a small way to welcome them to the guild and have a less overwhelming place to start talking since there’s fewer people in the channel over guild chat.

    Rhinjet OUT!

  5. Another great post. You’re right, we see a lot of articles about navigating the initiate period as an initiate, but not much from the other direction. These are all important things for officers to keep in mind.

  6. Nice post, I’m also one of these people who is very nervous when being trial. I feel like everything I do is wrong, I don’t talk a lot in guildchat. And all of that changes once I’m a member. Because of that I try to make our trials feel welcome. Especially the healing ones I try to have a little chat with before going to the raid and talking them trough several things.

  7. We got failed at University if we dared hand in essays using things like “mankind”, “he” when referring to people of both genders and so on which used to frustrate me considerably as I was studying Literature.

    But I do think Officers tend to forget that the trial period works both ways. Even though I’ve escaped an Officer position I always try and make new recruits feel welcome and offer any constructive advice I can as that is the way I would want to be treated if I were a trial somewhere.
    That said, I do think “You’re applying to us, not we to you!,” has to apply to a degree. After all, when considering new applicants Officers don’t have much to go on at the beginning. Just whatever was written in the application plus behaviour at the first few raids and it soon becomes apparent if someone isn’t trying 100 percent.

  8. Something that came up with my guild recently and it fits here. Don’t promote people to full member before the trial is over. You’ve set a rule for a reason. Yes you might ensure him staying if you promote him early, but would you want someone who wouldn’t stay because he couldn’t wait 2 weeks? Apart from that, you are giving a very bad message to everyone. For the recruit you make your guild look desparate and invite him to become a primadona. For your members that are already in the guild and went through that process it’s a slap in the face, likewise for any other recruits undergoing the trial period.

    Nice post, nice blog.

  9. SEALPOWER.

    • YOU’VE SAID TOO MUCH!

      • Train, you’re not a very loyal druid, are you?

  10. Good post. The other thing i would say is make sure from the officer point of view, as soon as the person transfered, that is not the time to take them on a trial run. Let them get their bearings, figure out their addons, etc. This happened to me, i transfered and within 15 minutes i was doing the trial run. Didn’t have vent set up, everything was a mess. Also they didn’t explain their loot rules (everyone passes on everything then decides). So I ended up looking like a: ninja who greeds everything, b) a tool who can’t handle boss fights, and c) not knowing how to avoid aggro (which was a big deal back then). If i was on server for a day or so i would have been much more confortable.

    The other thing from the applicant side is that make sure you are a good fit. yeah, you want epcis and all of that, but do you really feel like you are at the same commitment level as some of these guys? Some guilds raid for 40 hours a week (and call themselves casual). Make sure you are up to that.

  11. Great post, it’s an angle not much covered. I’ve only ever been in three guilds, the last of those being my own guild for the past two years, so it was a good reminder on seeing things from the recruit’s point of view.

    I’ve only just discovered your blog and am loving what I’ve seen so far! I’ll definately be back.

    • Thanks! I’m flattered. :)


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