Episode 217: Can’t Do, or Won’t Do?

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Synopsis

If you’re part of the leadership team and a member isn’t participating in some way, approach them and say “How can we help you (give more referrals, bring in visitors, etc.)?” The person will respond with either a “can’t do” or a “won’t do” answer.

“Can’t do” answers come from people who want to participate, but don’t know how. The solution is to educate them.

“Won’t do” answers come from people who don’t want to participate. They want to receive referrals, but not to give them. Give these people the opportunity to step down.

If they want to stay because they’re getting referrals, then insist that they contribute.

How has your BNI chapter handled the “can’t do” and “won’t do” members? How well did it work? Do you have suggestions for other listeners?

Brought to you by Networking Now.

Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 217 -

Priscilla:
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you today and where are you?

Ivan:
I am doing great, Priscilla. Thank you very much. It is a nice summer day here in southern California. I know it is not a summer day in the southern hemisphere, but here in California, it is a nice summer day in August. I have a great topic today, one that I train on a lot with BNI leadership teams and directors, but I really haven’t talked much about this on a podcast. It’s the concept of members being a can’t do or won’t do. Let me explain what I mean about that.

Oftentimes, a leadership team or director might come up to me and say, “We’ve got a member that is just not participating.” Either they are not bringing in referrals or they are not bringing in visitors. They are just not actively engaged. One of the first things that I tell leadership teams is to sit down with the member and ask this question. It’s my magic words for customer service: how can we help you?

It’s really important that you do that because if you go up to a member and just start hammering them for not being engaged, they just get defensive. But instead, if you ask how you can help them do this, it’s a very powerful technique. It’s gold. It really is a very powerful technique because if you ask how you can help them, they will virtually always give you one of two answers. They will either give you one of two answers to that question. They will either give you a can’t do answer or a won’t do answer.

Let’s say it’s referrals. I’ll give you a real life example. We had a printer in a chapter.  We asked how we could help him bring in referrals. He was dead last. He brought in the least number of referrals in the group. We asked how we could help him and his answer was, “You know, I am really struggling with this. I am having a hard time bringing in referrals because I don’t really have much of a conversation with my clients because they don’t tell me what they need. They slap something down on my desk and say, ‘I need 1000 copies a week from tomorrow. Any questions? Great.’  They’re out the door. I don’t know if they need a CPA. I don’t know if they need a florist. I don’t know what is going on in their lives. I don’t have that kind of dialogue with them. I am struggling. I want to bring in referrals. I just don’t know how to do it.”

 That is a classic can’t do answer. They want to help. They just don’t know how to help. You know what, Priscilla? It is our responsibility to help those people. We have all been can’t dos. I was a can’t do. I didn’t know how to network.

 By the way, we came up with a great solution for this guy. We put up a board with everybody’s business card. People would come up and they would pull a business card from one of the BNI members. They would say, “Tom, what do you know about this person? Are they really good?”  He would say, “Oh yeah. I see them every week. They’re very good.” This guy went from being the worst referral generator in the group to being number one so many months in a row that they just made him the honorary winner for the year and started recognizing the second  place person.

It’s a longer story than that, but it’s a classic example of somebody being a can’t do and you teach them how to do it. It’s the won’t do people that are a real problem. When you say to somebody who  is a won’t do, “How can we help you bring in more referrals?” they’ll say something like, “It’s really difficult for me in my profession to be able to give referrals to the people in the group.” You are thinking, of course, so why are you here? Priscilla, why do you think they are there?

Priscilla:
They are there to receive referrals. That is why they are there.

Ivan:
You’ve got it. They are there to get referrals. They are just not willing to give referrals because of whatever reason. They are a won’t do. They are not going to do it. Those are the people that are a little more difficult. You can immediately alleviate the majority of the people who are not performing, and I think this applies in general business, not just BNI group. You can eliminate a majority of problems by identifying whether somebody is can’t do or won’t do. If they are a can’t do, we have to retrain and redirect. If they are a won’t do, you basically need to say- and if you open up the door to people, it is amazing how many people will quit if you simply say, “It’s okay if you step down if this isn’t for you at this time. It is okay if you step down and come back in at another time.” You’d be surprised at how many people say, “I probably should step down and quit.”

If they don’t take the bait, and want to stay because they are getting referrals, that is when you sit down with them and say in order for them to continue in the program, they have to contribute back to the chapter, whether it is bringing in visitors, referrals,  or supporting the group in some way. You have to contribute back to the chapter. But that is a much smaller number. If you can recognize whether somebody is a can’t do or a won’t do,  it is much easier for you to solve the problem.

Have you seen situations like this at all, Priscilla? What do you think of this?

Priscilla:
Absolutely. It is just about people’s attitude towards being a networker, I think. If you are a little bit embarrassed about promoting your fellow members to your friends or community, then you are  going to hold back and be a won’t do. But if there is this attitude that it is very cool to know lots of great resources and talented people, then you are going to jump at turning people on to your members.

Ivan:
Yeah. That’s all I have for today, Priscilla. I have a question for the listeners. Have you ever seen a can’t do or a won’t do in your BNI group? How would you handle them differently? How did you handle them, maybe, and how would you handle them differently in the future based on understanding this can’t do/won’t do concept. We would love for you to leave comments. I’m telling you, it’s one  of the most powerful concepts that I train on to help people: A.) stay positive and solutions focused, B.) support people who really want to be there. And C.) to move on people  who  are just there to get and not to give.

Priscilla:
That sounds good.

Ivan:
Thanks Priscilla.

Priscilla:
Great., Ivan. Thank you so much. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.

Comments

  1. says

    This was a fantastic podcast! Thank you Ivan for sharing this important information. The simple, yet powerful way of asking how to help that person can help people not only in BNI but in ANY aspect of their lives where they are facing a challenge! I look forward top utilizing this not only in my business but with my BNI chapter members to help them achieve more!!!
    Thanks so much!
    Suzanne

  2. says

    “If they don’t take the bait, and want to stay because they are getting referrals, that is when you sit down with them and say in order for them to continue in the program, they have to contribute back to the chapter, whether it is bringing in visitors, referrals, or supporting the group in some way. You have to contribute back to the chapter. But that is a much smaller number. If you can recognize whether somebody is a can’t do or a won’t do, it is much easier for you to solve the problem.”

    Sometimes, yes, I have seen the info here work like magic!

  3. Bharat Daga says

    Thank you so much for this podcast.
    It will really help put things in perspective for so many LT teams and also the director teams.

  4. Mohana Ram says

    A fine podcast! Thank you Ivan and Priscilla. As a first timer to such networking platforms and in leadership role as a Membership Cordinator, while analysing the performance of the Members in Chapter I was not sure how to get non performing member to the Board. With simple can’t do and won’t do analysis will help.
    Thank you very much
    Mohana Ram MV

Solutions-focused comments are welcome