Tough Call: Real Officer Set-Ups In Cataclysm

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
Welcome back for another issue of Tough Call, with me, Viktory.

Disclaimer: What follows is the summation of my opinion based upon the responses I received from over a dozen guild masters when I asked them about their officer corps. Given the content of my last two posts, I felt it would be relevant to take an honest look at how guilds are setting up their government structure these days. This does not mean you should change your guild structure right away.  It does mean, however, that if you were looking to make a change, you can perhaps derive some supporting arguments from a few successful GMs cited below.

A few weeks ago I put out a call for GMs to help me get an idea how their guilds are operating, and, more importantly, what sort of  hierarchy they have put in place to make their guild succeed.  Out of the numerous responses I received, two solid trends emerged:

  1. There are a LOT of different ways to set-up your guild hierarchy, each with their own respective success rates and ease of implementation.
  2. There are far fewer vanity positions in play these days. At least among the sample group at my disposal, it seems there are most GMs expect more output from their officers.

I am happy to see that the days of  “So-and-so has been with us for a long time, so they are an officer now” are largely over.  Only 2 of the GMs who responded to my survey said they had non-specific officer roles (as in “we all do a bit of everything”, which really leads to “everyone assumes someone else is doing the dirty work”).

To get my information, I asked each GM three quick questions, and let them tell me the rest (and believe me, guild managers love to tell you about their guild, its environment and their genius set-up to solve all problems.)

First Question: “What officer positions do you use, and do they report directly to you or is there a chain-of-command?”

Most Common Positions:

  • Raid Leader (separate from a role leader)
  • – Melee DPS / Tank / Ranged DPS / Healing role leaders
  • – Bank Officer
  • – Recruitment Officer

Some GMs also reported using Morale/Relations officers and an officer rank for Loot Council or Loot Master, separate from other officer duties.  I’m not sure that I’d classify these jobs are something that needs a full-time officer, but I’m also extremely hesitant with the idea of a part-time or “junior” officer.  If it wasn’t so prevalent, I’d lump “Bank Officer” in with this lot.

As for command structure, it’s fairly unanimous that members report to their respective role leaders, who then in turn report to the GM.  I do wish, however, that I had devised a way to get more information about how the recruitment, bank, and morale officers interact with this command structure.

To me this combo represents a stark contrast to the landscape I saw when I started raiding back in Karazhan.  Instead of a GM who ran every aspect and had a few cronies as officers (which is what typically gave loot council-style raids such a bad rep), we are seeing 25-man guilds shift into fully-fleshed organizations.  Positioning the GM as the Chairman of the Board seems to be the clearest way to define duties/responsibilities, and is an efficient way to make sure the various aspects of the guild function at peak performance.

Second Question: “Have you had to add any officer positions since the end of Icecrown Citadel?”

The answers to this question fell in two distinct patterns:

  • Organization increase: bank officer, recruiter, defined class leads.
  • Expansion increase: recruitment officer, 2nd raid leader, PVP leads.

This should tell you that if your guild isn’t growing or refining, you’re stagnating.  12-24 months from now you will be doing things differently; the faster you can figure out what that will be, the better the transition will go.  After all, these are guilds that had 4-5 years of experience and still found roles to add and needs to address after ICC.  Learn from their example and succeed.

Third Question: “If you had to cut one officer position (not person) today, who would it be?”

A few GMs refused to answer this one, or gave responses that never answered the question, but the consensus was either the bank officer or morale officer would be the first to go.

As I stated above, I’m not sure that these are full-time jobs anyways.  In my guilds we’ve always just defaulted to the most likable officer being de facto “HR guy.”  I am very interested to hear any feedback about ways that a bank or morale officer could contribute on-par with what a raid leader, role leader or PVP lead does.

As always, leave any question, comments or epic knitting patterns in the comments below. (I’m trying to get someone to knit me a bad-ass scarf to wear while podcasting).  Also, if you have a situation that you’d like to have me address in a future column, feel free to send it to

10 thoughts on “Tough Call: Real Officer Set-Ups In Cataclysm”

  1. Huh, I’m surprised more guilds didn’t have an officer who ran/moderated the website or forums. I’ve found that to be pretty common in guilds I’ve been involved with. It’s a pretty big time commitment for guilds that have active forums or like a fancy website.

    • We have a dedicated person taking care of that (with me as backup), but he isn’t and won’t be an officer. He’s officially recognized as ‘the guy who does the website’, but he’s still a regular raider.

  2. Do you have any comments on how to incorporate this into a 10 man guild with two separate 10 man teams?

    We have officers from each group but I don’t know how the role officers would work in this case.

    • That’s a question that I actually encountered a couple nights ago on my realm. It’s an interesting idea that I hope to have an answer for next week. This will be a fun one.

    • Cool, can’t wait to see a full response on this 🙂

      I figured I can easily get people into other officer functions, but class/role leader is a much stranger one to do…Maybe I just don’t need them?

  3. I think what we are seeing here is that guilds who want to foster a real community/online presence are using their leadership core to support this. Forum moderation is easy handled by the role leaders. Additionally, I know web development can be a huge time sink, but does someone deserve an officer spot for it, or is web admin enough? What about guilds who out-source their development?

    Say answer, use Enjin and it’s a breeze; right Matt?

  4. One assumption you’re making is that as soon as you figure out what you need from an organizational point of view, you can fill these positions without any trouble. I think that makes your investigation a bit too theoretical in purpose. In practice, I imagine that the main issue most people run into is not that they don’t know what they need, but rather that they don’t know who they need. The most common offender here is probably the raidleader job, which requires a very specific kind of person to be successful at it.

    Now, I don’t mean to say that what you’re doing is not interesting and worth your time, because it very much is and any investigation done on this subject is very much needed (especially actual academic work). I do think however that the potential for improvement of guild hierarchical structures by whatever knowledge you gain from this investigation is severely limited by the difficulty of finding the right people to flesh out the hierarchy with.

  5. Great findings! I agree with Daenon – the WHO of officers is much more important than WHAT officers. When I have needed a new officer, I require them to fill out an application (resume/CV) and then we do a rather rigorous interview. I’ve had experiences though where I think they will fill the role well but 3 months down the line they are doing little more than they did previously. It isn’t for lack of opportunity to do more or that I haven’t laid out expectations, but that the person ultimately may not be the right person for the responsibilities.

    The WHAT is definitely, absolutely important, but the WHO is at least 50% of the equation.


Leave a Comment