Episode 230: The Value of Exit Interviews

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We mentioned exit interviews in Episode 222; in this episode, Dr. Misner explains how exit interviews came to BNI.

Many years ago a terrific BNI member, someone who really seemed to love BNI, quit unexpectedly. Dr. Misner designed an exit interview and found out that the real reason the member was leaving was because another member had behaved unethically. The membership committee confronted this other member and removed the person from the chapter, allowing the first member to stay.

Here are some of the questions in an exit interview:

  • What are your reasons for leaving?
  • Did you find that BNI was beneficial to you?
  • What did you like most about BNI?
  • Was there anything you disliked about BNI? If so, what was it and how would you change it?
  • Did you feel you were well-informed about the activities and benefits of BNI?
  • Did you meet for lunch with other members of the group? How often?

Take this podcast to your leadership team. And download your own copy of “The Significance and Value of the Exit Interview” below.

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Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 230 –

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 come 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 and where are you?

Hi Priscilla. This week I am at the international BNI conference in Long Beach. I talked about it in last week’s podcast. We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people coming here now. The conference starts tomorrow. We do this every year. It’s like going to a UN conference. It’s really an amazing experience. Members are welcome to come on the member’s day, which is on Friday every year. So just look at BNI.com in November of every year and if a BNI member anywhere in the world would like to come, you are welcome. We had somebody from Africa come last year.

Wow. I know it’s very interesting to meet all of the people from all over the world. It gives you a real sense of how big the organization is.

It really does. No question about it. Today I am going to talk about the value of exit interviews. I thought I would start with a couple of things. First of all, I made reference to an exit interview in episode 222, Why Do People Leave? So if you have a chance and are listening to this podcast and you have not listened to episode 222, I think it goes hand in glove with this podcast. So take a look at that.

In that podcast, I talked about the fact that we started doing exit interviews a number of years ago, but I don’t think I gave the story about how they came about. So I thought I would open it up with this story as to how exit interviews began. What happened was that we had somebody quit a chapter and they were a great member. They seemed very, very happy. They really seemed to like the organization. So somebody said we should really ask them why. I said we should do an exit interview. They asked what that is. This is years ago, Priscilla, I couldn’t have had more than 40 chapters.

One of the kinds of things that I did as a management consultant was I designed exit interviews for companies. I said it was just a list of questions that you ask somebody when they leave. So I wrote this up for a specific member. I called him and said we are starting to do exit interviews. I didn’t want to say it was because he is leaving. That’s what I did. We were starting to do exit interviews. I just had a few questions. We asked why the person was leaving. I asked the question a couple of times in different ways. I found out, Priscilla, that the person was leaving because they were mad at another member.

Even though they said that business was really booming, business was great and they couldn’t handle it all, I found out that that wasn’t the real reason. The reason was that somebody else had kind of ripped him off in a chapter. That’s when I had an opportunity then to do some consulting, some mentoring. I said if they really wanted to leave because somebody has done something inappropriate? We should deal with that and not have you leave. He said he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.

The thing about this guy was that I knew he was a real ethical person. I guilted him. I’ll be honest. I guilted him. I said, “If you leave, do you think this guy is going to do the same thine to someone else?” He said yes. I said, “ Then let’s do the right thing together and let me help you with the membership committee. Let’s bring this to the membership committee so that they know what happened and they can make a decision. The membership committee heard the issue and they removed the other person. So guess who stayed. The guy who was going to quit. It all started because of this exit interview.

In this podcast, I am going to review what the exit interview consists of. There is going to be a downloadable so that members can download this on their own, although this is available to leadership teams and directors. Any member can download this. I urge chapters to use this when you have people leaving. Not just anybody, but I recommend that you use it consistently in your chapter.

I think it’s a great idea.

One of the things that we say is that the value of the exit interview is directors- but more than just directors, I think members can do this as well. I don’t recommend that it be any member. I recommend that it be the leadership team, somebody from the leadership team, or somebody from the membership committee. Anyone in authority who regularly performs exit interviews, there is a number of benefits. It allows the chapter to figure out if maybe this isn’t the right chapter.

Maybe a different chapter might work for them because of a personality conflict. It provides insight as to what a member’s impression is and how BNI can serve more effectively in terms of quality control. It can help chapters take ownership for the quality of their members and avert potential problems.

Exit interviews are a very powerful tool that I think are not utilized as much as they have been in the past in some reasons. I would urge you to have somebody in your group be responsible for doing exit interviews. Here is what the exit interview consists of. Then maybe, Priscilla, we can just chat for a few minutes if you have any questions.

The exit interview basically consists of you putting down who is interviewing, who you are interviewing and you ask them what is the reason for leaving? Do you mind telling me why you are leaving? What are the reason/s for leaving? Do you find that BNI is a benefit to your profession?

We found this in studies that we have done in the past that 20% of a chapter will leave for reasons that a chapter can’t control. I have talked about this in a previous podcast. Health problems, changing careers, moving- you are going to get 20% turnover, so if you have 40% turnover in your chapter, half of that is going to be for stuff that you can’t control. So when you ask if they feel it has been of benefit and they say yes, you find out maybe that they are leaving because of something that is really beyond your chapter’s control.

Ask them no matter what they said- whether they are leaving because they are unhappy or happy- what did you like most about BNI? Another question is was there anything that you disliked about BNI, and if so, what is it and how would you change it if you could? Did you feel that you were well informed on the benefits and activities offered to you by BNI?

Then there are five questions that are asked in the last question, sort of a yes or no. This gives you a sense of the kind of activity that the member engaged in, so if they say they didn’t get any business out of BNI, you can get a sense of whether they were engaged in the kind of activities that they needed to be in. For example, did you meet for lunch for other members of the group? Yes or no, and if so, roughly how many? Were you specific about expressing what a good referral for you was? Did you ask members if the referral you gave worked for them? Did you prepare your 60 second presentations? Did you feel you had good communication with your chapter and its members?

Really the idea is just to get people to open up and talk. Here’s and old- this isn’t in any other written material. I am going to give you and old technique as an old HR guy who has worked with human resources and studies and surveys. A concept called semantic differential questioning, when you basically ask the same question in different ways. Asking why somebody left using different words will oftentimes get different answers.

What was the reason for leaving? What was one of the most important factors in your decision to leave? You don’t do this one right after the other. You might do one in the beginning, throw another one in the middle and one at the very end. What’s the bottom line, Priscilla, on why you left? You only do that when you have somebody whom you think has another reason for leaving than what they are saying.

By using semantic differential questioning where you ask the same question in two or three different ways, I know it sounds silly, but you will get, many times, a different answer. When they say to you, you know what, you kind of asked that and they kind of answered that, then you are probably getting the answer that’s true. Again, I wouldn’t use that technique on everyone, but when you think you have someone who is not being completely candid for whatever reason, it’s a great way in an exit interview to get the bottom line, to get the information.

Knowledge is power. If you know why people are leaving, you can impact it. I highly recommend exit interviews, so go back and listen to episode 22 and put them together.

Episode 222

Episode 222 will tie together with this episode. 22 was a long time ago.

I want to just say a few things. One is that I think we definitely lost a very positive member due to something that was personal between members. He just did not want to deal with it. I think it’s really a shame because had perfect attendance, had been a member for years, and was a really great person. I think if we had done something like this, maybe we could have avoided it. He just felt really uncomfortable. He didn’t talk about what the reasoning was but it was definitely a conflict with another member. So I think it happens more often than you may think.

It does and people- oftentimes, there are a lot of reasons why they don’t talk about it. It may be that they just don’t want to cause waves. It might be that they don’t want to have a battle. It might be that they are just so frustrated that they don’t ever want to sit in the same room with the other person.

I think it was that.

In a way, that is the wrong way because now you leave the person who created the problem in the chapter. Good people will do the right thing when you present it to them properly. Do you think that that person is going to do the same thing? They will often say yes. Then let’s do the right thing here and tell somebody about this.

That’s a great idea. I am definitely going to take this back to my chapter and get it started because we have a very god chapter that is eight years old, but we are losing some of our newer members, so we have to figure out why.

That’s important. I recommend that everyone listening to this podcast, take this podcast to your leadership team. Tell your leadership team , “This is a podcast you need to listen to. I think this chapter should consider doing them.” Every chapter doesn’t need to do them. This is one of those techniques, Priscilla, where this is not BNI 101. This is BNI 401. If you don’t do this, it’s not the end of the world but if you have a really good chapter and you just want to make it better and you want to do some things- you’re already a good chapter and you want to get even better, this is a technique that really, really works.

Of course, it works on the chapters that are struggling as well, but it’s a little more complicated to deal with and it’s a little more commitment.

Okay great, Ivan. I really like that.

Well, thanks a lot, Priscilla.

Okay I think that is it for this week. 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.

Solutions-focused comments are welcome