I was having a conversation the other day with my girlfriend, and she mentioned that the raid group she had been running with recently had been having some issues with their raid leadership. This led to a discussion about what’s good and bad in a raid leader, and how to effectively raid lead and motivate people. Although I don’t raid much these days (as evidenced by the dead blog), I have done plenty of raid leading in my day and I think I have some information that’s worth sharing.
First, let’s talk about what not to do. I’ve seen raid leaders singling out individuals in Ventrilo when they screw up or when they die, but I think that this is a good way to demotivate people. If you do things like this, not only does it encourage other raiders to do the same (especially if you start focusing on one person) but it also leads the singled out individual to either feel angry and hard-done-by or even stop raiding. Not a good way to effectively motivate people.
I remember the last time I tried to lead a raid in this way. It led to one person that I was criticizing muting/ignoring me – which obviously leads to some problems with guiding that person through fights. Needless to say, I stopped doing that fairly quickly.
At the same time, I think there has to be some element of public criticism in raids. Typically, what I would do is make this criticism more general (if I noticed a raider consistently standing in defile on Lich King, I’d say things like “get out of defile” during the fight, sure, but after the fight or before our next attempt I’d bring it up as a general principle: “Hey guys, this attempt let’s really focus on making sure Defile doesn’t spread in phase 2 and 3″). Without doing this, your raiders may feel resentful or feel like they are carrying some of the less skilled players in your group – they need to see that you’re doing something to address the problem.
One thing that can help you as a raid leader is also bringing things up with raiders in whispers. If you think it’s a tactical issue that they may be able to fix between attempts, send them a whisper. Don’t be overly confrontational unless it’s the third or fourth time you’ve seen this, but for the first couple of times a simple “hey, I noticed you’ve been having issues with X boss mechanic, I’d really like you to focus on that for our next attempt and make sure you’re doing it right” should suffice.
If issues are chronic or speaking to them quickly as above isn’t fixing an issue, then I honestly think it’s your responsibility as a raid leader to talk with them about it after the raid. Pull them into another channel in Vent and talk with them about what you’re seeing. “Hey, I’ve noticed your DPS is consistently pretty low. I really need you to work on fixing this, because it’s seriously affecting our raid.” If necessary (for example, if you don’t necessarily know their class), put them in contact with a class leader or someone you know who can help them improve – don’t just say they need to get better and leave it at that.
I know I’ve spent a lot of time touching on how to effectively give criticism, but as a raid leader it’s also important to motivate through positivity. If you see someone really excelling, don’t hesitate to point it out. I’ve kind of gone back and forth about doing this through whispers or more publicly through Ventrilo, and at the end of my raid leading tenure I was doing it through whispers. The point is that it’s a great motivator as a raider to be told you did a good job. It shows that your leadership is taking an active interest in your performance.
The other part of this is that you should also be watching people who have been criticized on something recently and watch for improvement. If you do see improvement, you need to make sure you’re commenting on it! I remember one of my raiders during ICC had all sorts of trouble with Sindragosa’s frost bombs. I talked with him about it, and after a couple of attempts he started doing the fight absolutely perfectly. I then whispered him and let him know that I was really impressed with his improvement. I think he really took that to heart, because when we moved on to heroic modes he was letter-perfect on almost every single new mechanic we were learning as a group.
I hope the above ramblings can help you in your role as a raid leader. I think that the above principles have certainly served me well during my time leading. Best of luck moving forward in the tail end of 5.1, and happy raiding during the upcoming Hall of the Thunder King!