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What is the most important factor for a successful raid group?

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This is my opinion, so it reflects my experiences and perspectives only. This is post describes what I think is the number one reason groups either find success (that they define themselves) or fail and fall apart. This post is just going to be a discussion of some of my thoughts after three years of leading a raid group in FFXIV, though I have had managerial positions in other big guilds (FFXI) and also lead smaller more casual groups (TERA) as well. I've been playing MMOs over half of my life now and I feel as if the same themes keep reappearing, and obviously not out of coincidence. 


Shared goals and expectations that are enforced

One reason groups tend to become divisive or get frustrated with each other is because they do not set common expectations before going into a raid tier. "We want to clear content" is not really an adequate expectation. Clearing content is what every group sets out to do.The bigger question to ask is, how fast do you want to clear content? How much time are you going to be putting in? Are people expected to give up their weekends? How many days a week are you striving for? Are players expected to do research before going in to raid? Each of these areas needs to be clearly explained and agreed upon by the group, or you will be bound to have players who operate on different wavelengths. Eventually, those players will be in conflict and lash out at each other.

"We want everyone to do a good job in raid" is also not an adequate expectation. You need to sit down with your group and thoroughly discuss the level of play that you are expecting. Are you expecting them to be masters of their classes? Are you expecting your players to all be excellent, or are you fine with having some players that are average while others clearly stand out as the stronger members of your group? Are you expecting them to also know other classes within their roles? Are you expecting them to be able to swap roles whenever needed? Every player in your group should feel confident in what is expected of them from a gameplay standpoint. It should never be a surprise.

Each group has their own pace, which is the term I will use to describe how much time they are putting in to raiding and what level of play they expect from their fellow group members. Every group that is successful dictates their desired pace collectively as a group. It needs to be agreed upon. Once that pace is set, any new recruits that are brought in to the group are expected to adhere to that pace. If a group sets expectations and then does not live up to them, members often get frustrated and stop trying as hard. They feel like there was a set of rules they agreed upon when they joined, but now people are slacking off and not being held accountable, so they will either leave or fail to give the same amount of effort they used to. If a group never sits down and sets a pace, then people just kind of wander around aimlessly never really sure what they are supposed to be doing. This is another way groups fail because no one is on the same page and it leads to some people trying way harder than others, and usually it makes them bitter towards their fellow members they believe aren't trying hard enough.

A key component of setting expectations is that you must have someone who is going to enforce them and be the bad guy that holds others accountable, even when the proper course of action is hard and can often times leave you feeling uncomfortable. If you feel someone is not meeting your group's expectations, it is always going to be better to bring it up with your group leader rather than to just silently grind your teeth until things boil over. That's how groups break up; simple situations are allowed to fester into large problems because no one was willing to tackle it head on.

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