Guide: How to be a successful leader for your groupEdit
Written by ShatteredXFeather and edited by Lightningpelt7
A while ago I was surfing through the wiki and I found this group with a nice looking page. The coding was awesome, the leaders used descriptive words in the introduction, and it just appeared to be well built. I check on this page a week or two later and the clan members are pulling each others’ hair out in the comments and the whole clan is disbanding. It was rather surprising. I then noticed that this was not the only group. Several clans that look fun and promising are made every week and the majority of them are gone by the end of the month.
What is going on?
I thought about it for a while and then I remembered how difficult it was for me and my friend when we first started, in fact, I almost stepped down during my first week of leading, I just barely was able to pull through. We were not the only people who were struggling, the whole clan was! People were leaving and obnoxious drama was happening in Shadowclan. But after continuously attempting to guide Shadowclan through the garbage that kept on getting in our way, leading became so much easier for us. We eventually got the hang of it and the clan with only about 5-10 active role-players transformed into a clan with 50+ members. My buddy and I successfully lead for about a year before letting the deputies take charge.
This comes to my conclusion; the leader is one of the most important roles when it comes to groups on animal jam. In most situations (not all of them), if the leader is not of quality, the clan is in danger of falling apart quickly. Of course, members are what makes a group a group. But the leader is the advocate, the protector, organizer, and the person who represents what the group stands for.
A good clan needs a good leader.
But how exactly do you be a good leader for your clan?
Now before I begin discussing this topic I wanted to point out that I am not going to be showing you how to create a page or come up with group ideas or clan names because I know there are many tutorials on those subjects and I am certain nearly every active member on this wiki is able to come up with a name/create a page. Instead, I am going to focus more on the journey of leading itself. You will be given a few clan tips along with a more personal aspect of how to guide your group.
Also, you must understand that I am not a professional at leading. I still make several mistakes every once in a while. But I believe I am much more experienced than when I first started. These are just some of the things I wish I had known when I first started. Anyways let's begin!
Are You Qualified to Lead? Edit
It is easy to either become unsure of yourself or so excited that you don't look before you leap(and sometimes that can be a good thing). Even when it comes to hosting a roleplay group leading can become difficult quickly, it is a pretty big responsibility. Here are some traits/things you're going to need to lead( rhyming skills 10/10
- Time. This is kind of obvious but I thought I would mention it anyways. As a leader, you are going to have to be one of the most active members of the entire clan. Along with showing up for roleplay, you should expect to spend at least an extra hour answering questions, maintaining members, adding information to the page, helping form some plots, and making sure things are running smoothly in your clan. If you already are pretty busy and have a lot of trouble staying active on aj, leading a group on there is probably not a good role for you.
- A WHOLE lot of patience. You must be able to slow down and think things through before doing something new. You are going to have to be able to wait for new members and opportunities. And you must be able to handle disrespectful members in a mature way.
- Thick Skin. You will be constantly put to the test when you are leading a roleplay group. You are going to have to withstand nasty people with nasty attitudes, drama, and other obstacles that stand in your way. It can be very stressful, but if you can take the stress and keep looking forward, this could be a job for you.
- The Ability to Decline Even Your Friends. Saying 'no' is hard, very hard. Especially towards the people you love. But if you know that the opposite of what they want is the right thing, you are going to have to not give into temptations.
- Empathy. There will be times when you will have to go out of your way to understand the intentions of your members. You are going to have to find the right way to confront people, the right words to choose that will not damage an issue even further. A leader who cannot understand his/her fellow workers is going to get in a lot of trouble.
- Motivation. You are going to need a proper amount of that in order to keep going even when things do not seem to be working the way it should be.
- A LOVE for Roleplay. Sure, you maybe be able to bark some orders, handle drama and make a pretty good looking page, but it is critical for you to enjoy getting online and roleplaying. And I don't just mean knowing the advanced vocabulary and having the ability to battle well in rp. You are going to feel extra uncomfortable and clueless as a roleplay leader if you do not understand roleplay very well. Before becoming a leader, I would suggest working on your roleplaying abilities first ( Learning how to develop interesting characters, use words that bring the characters to life, pulling roleplay forward, and how to make plots ^^)
Getting the recruitsEdit
As I said earlier; members are what makes your group a group, they are a necessity.
Now here is one thing you should remember. Animal Jam roleplayers are in only ONE roleplay group at a time. Why? Because our clingy roleplay community decided it was a sin to play pretend with more than one group of people. There are a variety of aj groups on here to choose from, all of them offer something different. Why should someone choose your group out of all the others? You are in a (friendly) competition against all of the other groups. The best way to catch a recruit's eye is to be different. Offer them something that no other clan does. This could be several things; a handsomely coded page (*sigh), unique lore, a thrilling story, friendly/supportive members, creative roleplayers, a fun setting etc.
Anyways now that you have that in mind, here are some of our tips for recruiting.
- Don’t be afraid to be different: Do not let other people prevent you from doing what you want to do. If you want to make a dinosaur role-play group and use a different avatar other than a non-member wolf, go for it! In fact, making your group unique is usually a good thing and can draw a lot of attention. Clans have become so sophisticated these days that it is hard to become popular and remain blended in with the rest of the dull groups. Having a unique group is something that we should want.
Don’t stress out about your clan’s appearance: You should be judged by how your clan role-plays, not how pretty your page is. I have seen packs/tribes/clans that disband quickly but get lots of attention because they have a nice page and it is completely unfair. As long as your page has all of the information necessary to roleplay. You shouldn’t have to worry.
- Forget step number 2... Make sure your page is organized and up to date! Unfortunately, the reality of this wiki is that many roleplayers on here judge your clan by your page, which is logical in one sense. Spending time making sure your page looks presentable can show how dedicated you are to your group. There are plenty of coding guides throughout the wiki and users who are willing to give you assistance. The coding "trends" change constantly so before you make your page look at some hot techniques used to display information. A nice, well coded, neatly formatted page may not guarantee success, but it is a good way to get a spot on the front page. And that can help you obtain a lot of members*sigh*
- Keep those page comments under control. The next thing a person who may be interested in joining is going to look at is the comment section. If they don't like what they see there is a good chance they will go to the next group. Keeping drama, random crap, and spam out of the comments is a good idea. Also, try to make sure your posts are neat. I am not saying you have to code basically a miniature clan page every time you post a comment (you don't even have to code at all, though it does look impressive rip), just proof-read your posts and make sure they are accurate, understandable, and do not have a lot of grammar/spelling errors in them.
- Don’t depend on your page alone to obtain new members: Even though it seems rather “noobish”, going to Aldan and recruiting members can be more effective. Yes a lot of people in Aldan are edgy 7 year olds who do not know how to role-play and do not be surprised if that is all you find in sarepia the first, second, or third time you try to recruit, but some of the best clan role players I have in ShadowClan came from the Sarepia Forest in Aldan. Never underestimate recruiting the good ‘old fashion’ way.
- While Advertising in Aldan, try not to use bland words. I often see clan recruiters use phrases like "if you are interested in a traditional, neutral- realm clan, come to my den!" Even though they aren't technically saying anything wrong, this sounds very dry and not very eye-catching. Use words that sound convincing and bring out whatever unique trait your clan has to offer!
- Be Picky About Who You Let Into Your Clan. Trust me it's better to have a clan with five excellent role-players than a clan with fifty idiots. If they cannot role-play correctly or they seem to be very immature then don’t let them into your clan it’s as simple as that.
- Don't Become Overly Upset When Someone Leaves. When members leave your group, all they are saying is that they do not wish to roleplay with the group any longer, it should not be that big of a deal. Though it can be tempting at times, do not snap when someone says goodbye no matter how long they have been there. I have seen people say things like "ha, you never contributed to this group anyway." or "You <insert offensive word> how could you such a traitor, you broke your loyalty oath!" Of course, if someone is leaving for an incorrect reason, you can politely correct them. But usually, when a leader behaves nasty to a person leaving, it makes them look like an edgy 8-year-old throwing a tantrum. And you may ask, why is it so important to not get defensive when someone leaves? Because other people are watching you and reading your comments! Nobody wants to be in a clan with a leader who is an absolute jerk. So watch your temper or you may lose even more members.
- Be Patient and Keep Trying! Those loyal members are out there somewhere. As long as you keep trying new things and persevere through the tough stuff. They will find your group!
- Give a good first impression. I cannot stress this enough. What a recruit sees the first time they first walk into your den is extremely important. Make sure they get a taste of what your group is like as soon as possible. If your new recruit has a good time with your group and they are comfortable with you, they will most likely come back again (the opposite can happen as well of course), it's that simple. There are several different ways to have your recruit properly interact with the group. You can give them a ‘test’ to see how physically fit they are, you can have the recruit perform some sort of ancient joining ceremony, or you can do something as simple as giving them a big welcome. I usually give new members a tour of our territory. We show them what we hunt and what dangers are in certain parts of the land. It helps them visualize what role-play usually looks like in our group and the new members enjoy it!
Important Questions to Ask YourselfEdit
Sometimes you are just getting the impression that there is something wrong but you just can't your finger on it. We totally understand that so we made some essential questions that you need to ask yourself when you are roleplaying. If you answer a negative to any of these questions, you must find a solution.
-Are you keeping your group in order?
-Are they actually roleplaying?
- Are they enjoying roleplay?
-Are you enjoying roleplay?
Question One: Are You Keeping Your Group in Order?Edit
Every clan gets overloaded with trouble. The trick is the deal with it quickly and move on.
- You see that foot of yours? Put IT DOWN. Don’t let your clan members control you. If they are doing something you don’t want them to do then make them stop. I hate punishing others (even if it is not real) but things will get out of hand if I don’t. Take action when your rules are not being followed. A long-lasting clan has order, keep that in mind before you allow another member to run their mouth.
- Don't ever bluff. If you say you are going to do something do it! Sometimes all you need to do to put someone back in their place is to give them a simple warning but other times you need to do more than that. Give them a warning or two and if they still are behaving badly then do exactly what you said you were going to do instead of repeating yourself.
- Do yourself a favor and ignore the haters. You should openly accept constructive criticism but do not listen to the haters. These people only want to watch your group rip apart. Don’t give them that pleasure. Animal jam is just a game and you should roleplay for fun, not to impress a stranger. The people who think there is only one right way to act/roleplay should be ignored
- If things start getting difficult, DO NOT Rant/Panic! (at the disco) When you feel yourself getting angry or upset with someone, take a deep breath and use your head. If you scream at your clan in all caps letters not only will you cause more drama but you will also drag the people who were not involved in the situation. Lectures are completely fine, however as long as they are done in a composed way. Discipline can be given without yelling.
- Stay calm. When your group is in a difficult situation, they will look up to you to solve the problem. If they see you defeated they will start to lose hope for you and your group and there is a high chance of them leaving. Keeping cool will do more good for you than letting out all of your anger.
- Don’t be ignorant. If a member is having an issue with you or your group, listen. You should be firm, but you must always try to hear both halves of the story before you make up your mind. Clan members have brains and feelings too. A leader who doesn’t listen well is going to have a lot of trouble.
- Don't be afraid to be afraid to give a punishment. Now by far the worst thing that I’ve seen a leader do, is too soft on their clanmates. You will never earn or get respect if you let your clanmates walk all over you like you’re a new member, you have to draw the line! If one of your warriors is acting up, punish them! Otherwise, if you do not show your nasty side, they will never feel obligated to respect and listen to you as a higher authority. This without a doubt goes for high ranks too, they don’t get a free-be just because their a deputy or elite, you put them in their place too.
- Make sure your punishments are parallel to what they have done. This just means, if someone breaks a rule outside of roleplay (such as being silly or powerplaying) they should be given a punishment that is out of roleplay and if someone breaks a rule while roleplaying(injuring a clanmate, talking during clan meetings, being disrespectful) they should be given a roleplay punishment. It does not make any sense for you to make someone clean a den for becoming a goofy dancing pink penguin.
- Solve the issues as quickly as possible. If you leave a problem your group is dealing with alone for too long, it can get so much worse. Groups can disband from these sorts of things. Do what you need to do to fix it and get it done fast.
- Let it go. After an issue has been settled, move on and try not to let it impact you and your group too much. Anyone can suffer from sulking and holding grudges for too long and a roleplay clan is not an exception.
- If you screw up, be honest. Because we are flawed humans, we will make mistakes from time to time. You will eventually make a bad decision, say something inappropriate, or lose your temper. It is okay, it is something we all do. What is not okay, however, is letting our pride get in the way of making things right. If you make a mistake that negatively effects the clan in any way, go ahead and apologize and admit what you did wrong ( It does not always need to be public, sometimes it is only a few members). Apologize with a humble attitude and promise to try to prevent that mistake from happening again and keep that promise. After you apologize, let the conflicted member decide whether to forgive you or not and move on. Sure it may make you look weak in front of your clan and not perfect but it is actually one of the smartest ways to deal with situations like that. When you apologize, you are showing your clan that you understand that you have errors and that you are willing to improve as opposed to being too blind to see that you have room for improvement.
Question Two: Are They Actually Roleplaying?Edit
In order to be a roleplay group, you must actually roleplay. Sometimes it can be very hard to get members to do this.
- Punish or exclude members who refuse to roleplay. This may seem obvious but its also important. If a member comes to roleplay just to goof off or chat, they will distract the other members who actually came to participate. One of the best tactics for dealing with people who behave like this is to excuse them. Give them the choice to either exit your den or to roleplay (after you give them a warning of course)
- Assure your group that there will be a time for them to goof off later. Chatting and having fun is a great way for clan members to get to know each other better. In general, there is nothing wrong with socializing as long as it doesn’t get in the way of more important tasks. So plan time before, after, or in between sessions where you give your clan the freedom to hang out.
- Be a good example. If you want your clan to roleplay, you should roleplay yourself. Keep in mind that you are NOT a babysitter; your role should not be to sit back, watch everyone else play, and occasionally hop in when something interesting is happening or to bark an order. This also means you should try to give attention to your group instead of chatting (playing a game, reading, etc.) on a separate tab. It will distract you from roleplaying. It is ridiculous to try to order someone to stop goofing off and roleplay when you are secretly guilty of the same thing.
Question Three: Are They Enjoying Roleplay? Edit
Roleplay can sometimes just seem dull and lifeless...
- Understand that roleplay does not always need to be exciting. This isn't really a tip just a reminder ;) Even action-themed movies and books don't have action 24/7 if the book was all just action, we would grow tired of the powerful scenes very quickly, this goes the same for roleplay. Its okay to just roleplay a simple training session or a chat with a friend!
- Give plot planning a try! Planning your plots before roleplay is a good way to get organized and to come up with creative ideas! They are not for everyone, however, some people enjoy the unpredictable side of RP and that is okay. I will make a section just for Plot discussions soon.
- Don't Forget to Roleplay 'regular' group activities. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to do extra special roleplay that we forget what a clan is already supposed to do. For an example, a clan on a daily basis should: Hunt/Patrol, Clean dens/other chores, train with apprentices, collect/organize herbs, raise kits, etc. If you think about it, there are many things you can do without having to come up with some special plot idea!
- Do not make a strict schedule for your clan. Its okay to have an idea for activities your group can do during that day, but going over the top with details can make roleplay very dull and it will be harder to make room for creativity. ( an example of this would have a daily schedule like 5:00- Hunt, 5:10-go back to camp and eat prey, 5:20 train, 5:30, have a clan meeting, 5:35-play a game.)
Question Four: Are You Enjoying Roleplay? Edit
Enjoying roleplay makes your rank as a leader that much more easy. Struggling to have fun during roleplay is especially difficult for those who do not actually want to be a leader ( Such as someone who promised the former leader to take care of the clan and never disband or a person who owns this old group and feels like it is their job to keep the clan active) but it can happen to anyone. I personally have struggled with this sort of thing and I understand how difficult it can be.
- Actually Roleplay. This kind of follows along with my 'are they actually roleplay statement. If you just enter the den, chat/play games in a separate tab, and only participate when something interesting is happening, then you will never experience the thrill of roleplaying properly. You cannot possibly feel like you are participating fully and enjoying roleplay if you don't roleplay at all.
- Understand what your duties as a leader are. This sounds very basic, but it is also very important to understand. In order to properly roleplay as a leader, you must understand what you are supposed to do. According to the Warriors Wiki, your job is to:
-Oversee the daily operations of the clan and give them orders.
-Speak on the behalf of the clan at gatherings/lead the clan into battles/deal with politics outside of the clan that can affect the clan.
-Appoint new apprentices/warriors/deputies/elders
-Counsel with the deputies and senior warriors and listen to their reports/call clan meetings if necessary
-Discuss prophecies with a medic
-Decide if someone can join/exile clan members
-AND a leader is expected to carry out warrior tasks.
Other than appointing new ranks, overseeing the clan and listening to patrol reports, the leader does not have a job that routinely keeps them busy most of the day. That is why you must remember that a leader is also expected to perform warrior duties. In fact, in order to stay busy, a leader must stay with the warriors and do jobs with them.
A warriors job is to:
-Perform Border patrols
-Guard/protect the camp
-Provide food for the clan.
-Serve in battle
- Mentor apprentices
To be honest, a good way to look at a clan leader's job is to just see yourself as a super senior-warrior. You perform warrior duties and when something unusual or important happens, then you step up as the leader and take charge, then you go back to warrior jobs. As lowly as that sounds, it will most likely make you feel much more comfortable and less glorified. SO next time you have training sessions/battle practice with your warriors or assign a hunting patrol, instead of sitting back and watching(like some old boss would), jump right in and work with them!
3. Try making another OC: If you just can't get others to roleplay in the way you want to as a leader, try making a second OC (f you are in a clan that allows second ocs of course). Now that I am looking back to when I was a leader, I think I would have had a much more fun time roleplaying if I had made an extra OC. When you make a character that is a different rank from your's (such as a warrior, kit, apprentice, elder, medic, etc) you get to experience roleplaying from a different perspective and others will not have to worry about being on their best behavior around this different OC and can relax more. Plus you will have to chance to be creative with your characters ;)
4. Give your leader some exaggerated personality flaws: Trust me, it is more enjoyable and entertaining to roleplay as a flawed leader than a Mrs. pretty perfect character. I am not saying you should make your character a blood-thirsty savage(unless you want to XD), instead, I see it more like making your character have quirks that can create some interesting roleplay.
A few examples of character flaws are:
-An OC who is such a neat-freak that they get upset when a single speck of den bedding has fallen out of a nest.
-an OC who is so sloppy and laid back that they do not groom themselves properly or don't clean up after themselves.
-A character who becomes angry easy and often gets into fights with enemies too quickly
-A character who is so much of a peace-maker that they often get pushed around or bullied by enemies/other clans
- A character who is so eager fit in that they don't ever speak for themselves and pretend to be someone they are not.
-A character who wants so badly to be bold and let their voices be heard that they do not take the time to listen to others and get defensive too fast.
-A character who is so compassionate and sensitive that they often misinterpret other people's words and get their feelings hurt/offended too quickly.
-A character who is so afraid of showing their weakness that they build a wall around themselves and lack compassion.
-A character who thinks logic is the answer to everything and does not trust their heart and lacks faith/ love/sympathy.
-A character who thinks that listening to their gut instinct/heart/feelings is the best way to solve a problem and does not strategize/think twice/look before leaping.
- A character who is dislikes/suspicious of others who are different from them (such as a rogue,kittypet, or someone with an opposite personality/appearance/rank, or a person with a mental illness) and treats them like creatures rather than fellow felines.
- A character who is too trusting and is so determined to never judge a book by its cover that they often are too gullible and fall into obvious traps or are taken advantage of.
There are many many more examples but I thought I would give some character flaw prompts just for fun ;) Of course, your character shouldn't be totally full of flaws, in fact, you should try to roughly make your character equally bad as it is good. Having an eccentric personality for your OC makes you less bored and more entertained.
Giving Announcements/Clan MeetingsEdit
Giving a clan meeting is a very simple process. All you have to do is get on your animal jam throne and make announcements... at least that was what I thought until I started giving them myself. My first clan gathering was so terrible that two members who were already considering leaving left right after I was finished. It was very frustrating. I think that giving speeches(on any platform) ranges in difficulty depending on who you are. Some people may be able to just give a perfect clan meeting without any planning beforehand or without putting much thought into it all, but others can really struggle with these sorts of things. Whether you have that fabulous outgoing traitor you are a shy and awkward people like me, there is always some room to improve. Here are some tips for helping you make your Clan Meetings better! <insert applause>
- Make them short and sweet. (If possible) try to make your announcements about 5-10 minutes long. Nobody wants to spend an hour of their roleplay time watching you ramble every time you have a meeting. If you have a meeting that lasts for a long time, there is a good chance your clan has gotten bored and is doing something else on a separate tab so your effort will be a waste anyways. Of course there are exceptions (such as making battle plans or something out of the ordinary.) but for the most part, keeping your meetings quick is the best way to go.
- Try to make a clan meeting an occasional event. Do not make an effort to have a clan meeting every day. In the Warriors series, clan meetings are usually only held to share important information(or to have a ceremony) so that when they do happen, everyone is paying attention because they know something is going to happen that will affect the clan. Instead of having a meeting you can just quickly tell your group before you start roleplay or you can post it in the comments on your page. If it is not needed, don't have a meeting.
- Make sure you are not talking over anyone. Don't even bother to have a clan meeting if everyone is going to chat instead of listening to you. What do you think a leader from the books would do if they heard their clan disrespectfully talking during a meeting? Punish members who won't shut up during a clan meeting.
- Do not repeat yourself for a late member. In my clan, whenever we have a clan meeting, someone ALWAYS walks in and is like "what's happening", it never fails. Do not start over again for people who have just arrived no matter who they are and what rank they are in unless it is something that requires everyone to have an understanding of what is going on (such as a poll or a discussion). Instead just tell them to sit down and wait till you are finished and then afterward you or another member can summarize the meeting for them. This sounds a bit rude and not very thoughtful but it will help you keep on track and make your meetings run much more smoothly.
- Make up your own version of clan ceremonies. This is a very optional tip but I personally think it is easier and more creative for a person to make up a clan ceremony of their own. It is also nice to twist up your wording choices for when you have a ceremony for 3+ members who are going to the same rank.
- Write a rough outline of what you are going to say beforehand. I have an excellent memory but for some reason when I make announcements, my nervous brain just refuses to remember what I was going to say. A good way to fix this issue is to write minor notes/bullet points for yourself. Yes, I get that it sounds ridiculous to take rp so seriously that you make notes, but it is so helpful! I am not saying you should spend hours writing a well-prepared speech, in fact, what I am looking for could take less than 3 minutes. Just type out your main points, what order you are going to say them in, and other small details that you absolutely wish to say.
Planning Story Lines/PlotsEdit
When you plan your plots beforehand, you give you and your clan a chance to put some extra creativity and depth into their roleplay. However, plot planning can make things difficult and give roleplay a stiffer and 'scripted' feel they are not planned or performed right.
- Understand that normal roleplay and planned plots should go hand in hand. There is no reason why pre-made plots should be treated extra special and not connect to casual roleplay. I have found that having a planned plot as a 'prompt' and using normal roleplay to prepare, react, recover, and to build off of whatever happened is more enjoyable and long lasting than role-playing a specific plot and then pretending like nothing ever happened afterward in roleplay.
- Try not to go overboard with details. It is very difficult for a group of people to understand exactly what you are expecting in the plot and it makes roleplay harder for them and frustrating for you. Keeping things as simple as possible is the way to go.
- Don't be afraid to change up the plot a little while roleplaying. Some plots may look pleasing in your head but when you actually roleplay them, your instincts may want you to take a different path. Go ahead and mix it up! (with the approval of the others roleplaying with you of course.)
- Don't make every plot overly dark/light. Not every special plot has to be about someone dying or something dangerous and not every plot has to be sunshine and daisies. Too dark of a plot becomes depressing and can turn roleplay stale, and a plot with no conflict is boring. Try to have a nice balance between both plots!
- Don't always give your character the spotlight. It's okay to every once in a while, have a plot where your character plays a major role. But remember as a leader you should make sure that everyone gets a chance to be the center of attention.
- Keep your settings in mind. Let's say you want to make a plot that features a forest fire, or an invasion of dangerous two-legs. Those both sound fun but you have to remember that if there is a major forest fire, the trees will be burnt (and camp might get trashed) and your clan may be forced to move to a different location. Or if there is a dangerous group of two-legs running around (like pest-control or TNR people), even if your clan somehow manages to get rid of those two-legs, what is going to keep more from coming back? ( I mean I don't think TNR groups stop doing their jobs because the cats they were trying to catch know how to fight or outsmart them)
The Troughs and Peaks of Roleplay Groups. Edit
-Ummmm...What?: While reading a book on how to start a business(don't ask) I learned about the Business cycle which is an overall pattern of typical Businesses. I don't want to spend paragraphs explaining what exactly that is so I will narrow a lot of things down. The word 'Cycle' suggests that things will happen again and again and that is true. So basically a Business Cycle is a cycle of expansion and recessions. There will be times when business is going badly but on the other hand, there will be times when business is going good (depending on circumstances). The graph below may help you understand it. The crest displays when Business is running well and selling products the troughs show when Business is not selling products well. Crest= Good Trough=Bad. It goes up and down in a cycle.
-What the heck does this have to do with my group? I sound like a loser with no life, overcomplicating things by treating roleplay clans like businesses when I start pulling out graphs... BUT I believe we can compare the business cycle to the struggles that we face when creating aj roleplay groups. All clans go through periods where roleplay is excellent and many members are joining. There are times when many people are leaving and everyone thinks it is the end of the world. Some groups, when they reach a trough, believe that their group is done for and must immediately disband without any hope. I will admit that troughs are difficult to get out of, but it is possible. All successful clans that are still running have survived the dreaded recession. If they can do it, so can your group. If you jump off the train as soon as the ride gets bumpy, you destroy the possibility of ever riding smoothly again. It's all part of the cycle.
-Basically What I am trying to say: Just because your group is flourishing and very popular, does not mean things won't go downhill(and believe me, it will), and just because your group seems like it has hit rock bottom, doesn't mean that it can't get right back to the top. Expect some negativity and some positivity. From what I have seen with my own group and other survivor clans, my comparison with the Business cycle is pretty accurate. but even if it is not true, you should believe in it. Having faith that conditions will be better in the future will do you a whole lot better than giving up on your group after the first trough.
But You just said that troughs were normal and we couldn't avoid them! Yes, I did say that and it is true. But that does not mean you can't prevent some of them from happening and you should not attempt to avoid them. There is a significant difference between groups that have troughs once a week and groups that have them only every 3-4 months. And it most likely the problem is not those clans that experience very few troughs are particularly better or just have better luck than most. It is because the people running these groups have a sharp eye for red flags that indicate when a trough could possibly happen. Here are some tips on how to steer clear of group conflicts
- Understand what I mean when I say 'Trough'. In my mind, a trough for roleplay group has these symptoms: Series of members leaving(and not just the dead-weight members who do not participate in roleplay much), a lot of OOC drama( usually involving the high ranks), Inactivity, and a state of panic. There is probably more that can be added but I think I covered the basics.
- Pay attention to your clan!: The best way to make sure your clan is running smoothly is by getting feedback from your members. They should let you know when something is wrong. I would even try to have times and places designed for constructive criticism ( a give me some feedback comment on the page probably could do the trick or a meeting) and when your clan gives you criticism don't wave it off or shut them out. ( you shouldn't assume that your clan members are 100% right all of the time of course, but that there is a good reason why they are telling you such things)
- Don't Become Too Prideful: Now remember that this doesn't mean that you should lack self-confidence and not be sure of ourselves (Having confidence is important). There is a difference between pride and confidence. Sometimes when your clan is running well and you are a top group, you begin to think too highly of yourself, that can become a problem. Too much pride can cause you to not be as vigilant as you should be. It may cause you to not admit when are wrong, refuse to step down from an argument you have lost, behave snarky to others (especially when correcting them), and become unable to see the needs and wants of others (which is important).
- Be nice and respectful. You might be scratching your head at this one a bit. One of the main complaints I see on rants concerning the wiki is that a lot of people on here act like total jerks. And as I said before, nobody wants to have a leader who is a jerk OOC. So if you act like a lovely person, you will stand out a bit from the wiki, and it will keep people from getting angry at you easily. I'm not saying you should act like a robot or overly cheery, just try to be considerate of other people's feelings, treat them the way you want to be treated, and give them respect even when you think they are wrong or disagree with them. it can be more effective than you realize.
- Stay Consistent. Don't bother punishing one member for something if you are going to let your friend do the same thing and get away with it. Stay true to your word, make sure you are following your own rules. Clan members do not appreciate leaders who are unpredictable in their actions.
- Be an Active Clan! Try your hardest to have a roleplay session every day (except for maybe on holidays). Having a set starting time that works out for you and the majority of your group helps keep everyone on track. Everyone becomes busy every once in a while, and we have certain days of the week where roleplay is impossible, that is why it is important to encourage members to have sessions even without their host.
- Know When To Recruit(and when not to) The members in your group will not always remain active, they have lives of their own that prevent them from logging on or they just don't feel motivated. You can kick inactive members out of your group(and I encourage you to do so) but as a whole, you cannot control how active your clan is. When a lot of your members are growing inactive, as sad as it is, a smart thing to do is to start recruiting again. If you only have 1-6 members log in on a daily basis, it is a good idea to look for new members (see getting recruits above). You should also know when it is not a good idea to actively recruit more people. When there is a lot of cats crowding your den, so many it is hard to speak and you feel overwhelmed, you should stop and wait for those people to grow inactive, and start the process over again.
- Avoid Excessive Drama. Pretty self-explanatory but also very important. Try to steer clear of people or situations that can get you and your group into a sticky situation. Sometimes you will need to bite your tongue to do this. If someone leaves a hurtful comment on your page or on your wall, you shouldn't fire a hurtful comment back, don't give them the attention. If you must reply, go ahead but don't insult them, it will only make the situation worse. Calm emotionally unattached replies are can keep you out of so much drama.
- Always Look for ways to improve. No group is perfect, no matter how long it has been running or who is leading it. Constantly examine your group and find ways to make it better!
Who's On Deck?: Deputies and Other HelpersEdit
When to know if you are in need of assistance. If your roleplay group is a warrior cat clan, there is a high chance you already have a deputy or second in command but sometimes you may need even more help than that! If you feel like you are bogged down with roleplay groups to the point where it feels like a chore just to log onto the wiki or aj. If you feel drained and exhausted to the point where you are struggling to have fun most of the time you are in need of some extra helpers. It might be nice to have some people on your side. Anyways whether you are looking around for some aide or just trying to pick a deputy, here is some advice for choosing that person to help you, making sure they are doing their jobs correctly, and managing them!
- Don't pick people who are your friends simply because they are your friends! While it is a good idea to choose someone you can trust, many leaders forget that there is a difference between trusting and liking a person. Sure they might be funny and share your Voltron obsession, but that doesn't mean they will be a good partner to work with. This can especially cause problems when they disagree. It can also make them unable to realize they should respect and understand you have authority. You can dislike a person and not find their company enjoyable and still have them as deputy!
- Choose a person who can take constructive criticism well(and make sure to give it to them if they need it) If whoever you are considering becomes easily angered or upset when given respectful corrections or tips, they will not be a good person to choose. If they are too prideful to accept a mistake they have made or that they need to work on a personality flaw, they will never be able to improve their ways which will make things difficult for you and your group.
- Choose a person who does not tend to have outbursts. If you have been a leader for a while, you would know that a leader must have some patience and thick skin. If they can't take the heat they can't be in the kitchen.
- When considering a certain person, observe how they treat other people. Because you are the leader, it is expected that you might be treated differently than other members who do not have the same authority as you. This can cause problems when trying to decide if an individual is good for a job. Sure they may treat you with respect, but are they just putting on a show for you or do they treat everyone, in general, the same way? The way they treat the people around them and how they make them feel about themselves says a lot about that person's character. If they are known to gossip, bully, or not include people that they dislike, they are not a good person to choose.
- Do NOT give ranks to someone just because they begged for it/are old members. People who try to manipulate others into giving them what they want are too childish to be given high ranks. If they cannot respect and trust you to make the right choice, they do not need to be chosen. Ranks are not to be given out like candy or to be given as prizes for remaining in the clan for a long time. Just because a member has been in the group for a long time, does not mean they will make excellent helpers.
- Do not give power-hungry people power. Members who like to rub their accomplishments in other people's faces are definitely not good candidates. We should all remember that the high rank's jobs are to serve the members not the other way around. Find members who are already being helpful in their permission. Those who just want that high rank for bragging rights should be ignored.
- Find a person with different skills than what you have. It is so nice to have someone who loves to do the chores you hate to do. Perhaps you are horrible at giving announcements or dislike training session, having someone who finds joy in doing those tasks will make you more comfortable. While this may not make them a good candidate, it is definitely a nice bonus.
- Make sure the person you are choosing understands your plans and visions for your clan. They are supposed to help you achieve your goals while you are the leader, not make their own. How strict you want a certain aspect of your group to be should be understood by all of the high ranking members.
- Be nice and respectful to your helpers. They are doing you a big favor for assisting you! You are not paying them anything, they volunteer freely to do the work they do. These people deserve and require some love ^u^
- Make sure your assistance understands what their jobs are. It is frustrating to not know what is expected of you. Give them a clear list of chores you wish for them to be done. When they are making major decisions, especially if they are new to their ranks it might be a good idea for them to run their choices through you.
- Make sure your deputy/second in command plans to take charge when you are finished. If the deputies do not step up when you step down there will be some chaos. If they don't think they will be able to take charge, they should not be your deputy.
- Demote Inactive High-Ranking members. Unless they have a reasonable return date for when they will be active again, an inactive high ranking member should be demoted. Even if the inactive member has a really good excuse (Like having a lot of school work). If they can not get online and do the work they agreed to do, they shouldn't have to job. You may even be doing them a favor so that that member will be able to focus on more important things. Demoting an inactive user is not cruel and it should not be taken personally.
- Give your high ranking members something to do. A major mistake I made when I was the leader was not distributing some of the workloads to my deputies ( I mean they did minor things but not much). Giving your Deputy or second in command something to do not only helps ease the stress but also trains them for taking your place when you finally step down. Even giving minor chores would be better than nothing. Here is a list of task your assistant ideas can manage for/with you.
-Finding Mentors for kits about to become apprentices-
-Accepting/Declining/Critiquing joining or alliance forms-
-Answering Clan-related questions-
-Handling minor issues between members-
-Helping new members become comfortable with your group-
-Leading Training Sessions-
-Keeping Track of the activity of other members-
A Note To Group Members Edit
Perhaps you are not a group leader but a member who is wanting to help their clan out or see if their leader fits my criteria of what I consider a "good leader". I made some tips for you too ^^
- The Grass is Always Greener On the Other side. I often see people comparing the state of their group to the "good old days" whether it's with older leaders to the leader you have now, how rules are kept, or how much fun you are having in roleplay. It is easy to not be satisfied with your situation and to think you used to have it better. Perhaps your group was more "fun" for you in the past, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun now. And maybe your former leader did things differently in the past than what your current leader does now; that doesn't mean your current leader is a bad leader. Even your former leader had flaws. Your grass can become greener if you take care of it. Of course, there is always exceptions and maybe your clan is in trouble, but make sure it is not just your imagination and there are actual problems.
- Fix the broken parts instead of throwing everything away. When your clan goes through a "trough" try to help your leaders find out what is causing the problems and fix them instead of leaving instantly. I often see in leaving forms people saying things like "The clan is falling apart and there is nothing we can do." That is not true at all (though since so many groups disband on here so it seems true) it might take some time and energy but things can get better! My super old clan is proof of that.
- If you have an issue, tell your leader. I can not emphasize how important this is. One time in my clan, a couple of years ago, we had a couple of problems with the way our leader was leading. But instead of telling the leader and expressing our concerns, we talked behind the leader's back and ranted angrily. But when the leader was with us, we acted like everything is fine. As we ranted, we became more and more furious with our leader who had no idea we were upset until we blew up and basically rallied him which also nearly caused our clan to disband ,., This stupid situation we made was completely unfair for our leader. It is scary what could happen when you grin and bare everything instead of politely confronting the person in charge. Don't rant, don't wait until you pop, just go talk to them. If they refuse to listen to you, then you can start getting angry. If your leader is reasonable, they will listen to you and give your words some thought. They should want some criticism.
A Final Note Edit
The Guide is finally about to come to an end! Here are my last few tips. I wish every leader reading this the best of luck!
- It won't last forever! *gasp* this does not mean your group will eventually become doomed and you will have to disband whether you like it or not because if I said that, I would be contradicting my point bellow lol. People become busy, they move on. The roleplayers in your group will eventually out-grow your roleplay group and they will have to prioritize other things instead of your group. Even you will eventually have to stop leading. This is coming from the former leader of the oldest active clan left on animal jam. It can't last forever. It's just part of life. Whether it ends within a month or two or five to ten years is up to the people in charge though.
- You can choose when your roleplay group is over. No matter how deep the trough is or how many members are leaving (unless you are the last member standing rip) you decide when to put the page up for deletion. It is not over until you say so! If you don't want your group to disband yet, don't disband it, keep going and keep trying. You can do it. It's really that simple.
- Enjoy it while it lasts. Sometimes we become so stressed out about the details that we forget to enjoy ourselves. The best of the rewards you receive when leading is watching the members around you roleplaying and enjoying themselves, a small voice inside of you reminds you that you helped make this happen. It feels amazing!
- Learn from Experience. There is far too much to cover in one simple guide. You may find that none of the tips I have given you work for you and that is okay. Find your own way to create a balance in your clan. Everyone is different!
What Did I Miss?Edit
Did I forget something important that you wish could be in the guide? Are there any tips/tactics you have learned that you wished you had known when you had first become a leader? Or perhaps you are an observant member who has learned leading styles/ seen leading mistakes and wish to share them. Maybe some quotes from other people that you think would be helpful? This section here is for those sorts of things.
Write your advice in the comments or on the page (if you know how) and feel free to sign your name if you are a leader, or you can keep it anonymous. (Keep in mind that troll advice or advice that I strongly disagree with will not be added/removed from the page)
" This is advice for a new leader"
-Formerly Brokenstar, leader of Shadowclan.