January 8, 2017

How to Contribute to Your Corp as an Administrator

One of the Mercenary Academy students really surprised me the other day when they asked me to teach a lesson on being an admin based off my experiences in EVE. It's the first time I've ever had such a request and it's really not something most people are interested in, so I was (and still am) a little unsure how to approach the topic. What follows is my attempt on laying out some of the basics of playing an admin role in your alliance which you can build from. Take what I write below with a grain of salt, it's entirely based off my own limited experience; I've never been anything but a mercenary after all, and many of these things may not translate to a non-mercenary focused organization.

To start, I think it will help to outline some of the duties I've held in my time as a mercenary. My first position of authority was when I became the CEO of Noir. Academy in early 2013. I learned a lot about processes during this time and I'll spend a lot of time covering what I learned below. Unofficially, I became a source of information for Noir. through my Contract Recaps. Related, as the current Press Secretary in Mercenary Coalition, I inform the alliance of important events in the past month or two (as often as I can create one of the reports). These updates can cover anything from a contract recap style update to major events in the alliance that may have slipped under someone's radar. As a director in Noir. I'm responsible for making sure the corporation runs smoothly day to day and also fits into the larger goals of the alliance. This is a lot more hands-off than the other roles I've done, in my opinion, but I feel it's also the most critical job I've had in EVE to date.

Good Processes Make Perfection

Never overlook creating a good process to tackle a problem. Processes is a very broad term that encompasses the plan, order of events, and requirements to make a specific goal a reality. This can be anything from a well-formatted Excel spreadsheet to a war campaign in EVE.

A lot of what I do in EVE I learned through real-life work experience. It's really important, as a good administrator, to have strong processes in place. This can be as simple as actually writing important things down in a specific notebook so you'll be able to reference them later to having a daily check list. The purpose of strong processes is to make sure that a project goes from start to finish with minimal disruption in the creation process, especially because of oversight or forgetfulness. Sometimes tweaks are inevitable as a project progresses, but it should never be derailed because you didn't prepare properly.

For example, to write my alliance updates, when something important happens I write it down in a centralized Google Doc and I link the bullet point directly to the source, whether it's a killboard, an article, or a forum post. This makes it really easy for me to go back and find everything that's happened since my last post. With a small bit of extra work, I can check with other people who I know are plugged into the news and make sure I didn't miss anything. Once that's complete, all that's left is to create the outline and write the post, but I didn't have to spend any time in back tracking, double checking, cross checking, or worrying that I missed something critical.

The most complicated process I've had to create so far was the Noir. Academy program. Making sure students progressed through the entire course in a specified amount of time was a lot of work and I couldn't have done that without the help of a great team of instructors and volunteered IT development. But the initial plan was critical in their success. A good administrator will be able to lay out an entire plan with clarity because you've thought through the entire process - all that's left is to actually implement it. When your plan, process, and vision are strong other people will buy in quickly and lend their support.

People Make the World Go Round

As I mentioned earlier, I couldn't have accomplished what I did with Noir. Academy without the team that surrounded me. Their work carried the success. Remember, however, that no one in EVE is required to log in. Everyone that plays does so because they find it fun. Sometimes administrative work can be fun, but it's often a bit of a drag. As an administrator, especially if you're in a leadership position, you have to remember that none of your "workers" are required to show up or do anything you say. You have to get them to buy in to the overall goal so that they're invested in its outcome as well. To do that, you need to understand their perspective.

In the business development world, I found it was very easy to finalize a deal when I became friends with the people I was working with. I got to the point where I'd be Snapchatting the guys who I was making $500,000 deals with and getting drinks when we were in town. We wouldn't be talking about business, but when we did get around to business we were friends. We approached the situation from a point of mutual desire of resolution - we both wanted to walk away happy, and so we were willing to compromise and work with each other so we could go back to grabbing drinks.

Similarly, when you're working with people in EVE, it's absolutely critical for you to have a deeper relationship with the people that help you than just "you're a person that helps me with this thing". Spend time with them outside of the work you're doing together, when you're chatting with them in Slack or in game, don't always talk about the work. By doing this, you'll be able to better understand them as a person, which means that when they have issues, complaints, or problems you'll be able to comprehend their actual point, which is often not verbalized (which is why it's critical for you to know them, otherwise you won't understand what they're really saying).

By having these relationships with the people you play with, having their buy in through your strong process, and going the extra mile to understand where they're coming from, you'll have a stronger team. A stronger team means you'll be able to accomplish more, faster.

Administrating is Playing

If you really delve deeply into the admin side of EVE, it's important to remember that your game changes. Instead of playing by shooting ships or creating modules, you'll be answering EVE mails and slack messages, you'll be planning corp meetings, you'll be looking at the current process flow of your corp applications and trying to improve it. This will become a major part of your daily EVE career, so you'll need to be prepared for that.

This can be very rewarding, but (especially if you're like me and in a PvP focused organization) a lot of your work will go unnoticed. There are few written records of your successes like a killboard and most people in your corp or alliance won't care or have the patience for the work that makes things happen smoothly. For instance, in Mercenary Coalition our SRP is submitted with one click of a button on our killboard. But people have to then review the request, check that it's legitimate, and send the correct payment amount. But the average player doesn't care about that. To them, click equals ISK. 

Only the Beginning

What I've written above are truly broad, general guidelines and tips. These aren't meant to be a step by step guide into becoming a behind-the-scenes guru in your corp. To do that, you really just have to dive in. What your organization needs isn't what mine does. Most of the time, the needs one corp in the same alliance as another are different, so there's no way to write an end all be all guide. 

Take the first step, get in touch with your directors and ask them how you can help assist in a particular function you're interested in or just how you can help alleviate some of their work load. As you get more involved and continue to do good work, you'll get more responsibility. Remember to apply the lessons above and add on your own experience and you'll be an admin master in no time!