This episode is part of the Ask Ivan series.
A member writes in to ask about how to handle a situation where one member is seeking to take advantage of other members, and says “No one dares speak up the truth.”
So how do you handle complaints about another BNI member?
If you have a member like this in your chapter, you have to have a conversation with this member. The person who is having the problem should approach the problem member directly. In many cases, the member will fix the problem once made aware of it.
If that doesn’t work, bring the matter before the Membership Committee. The Membership Committee should then sit down with this member and say “You have a PR problem. It may or may not be a real problem, but members believe it is a real problem.” Approaching the problem this way allows the member to save face. This is very important if this person is going to be a productive member of a healthy BNI chapter.
At this point the member will either choose to fix the problem, or become defensive. If the member is not interested in fixing the problem, say “It’s okay to step out of the group and come back when the timing is better.”
Do you have a question for Dr. Misner? Send it to [email protected]. Make sure to include the city and country you’re in.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript to Episode 432-
This is part of our Ask Ivan series, and if you have any questions, email Ivan @askivan.com.
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, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
I am still at the international conference. Our conference, which used to be two or three days, it started as two days and now goes on a week and a half. It keeps getting extended. We are training National Directors now. We are in over 63 countries now around the world. National Directors go through several days of training after a long week of conference. It is really important, you know, that they get the training necessary to be able to run regions effectively.
That is why conferences go so long and I am in Long Beach, California this week.
That’s incredible because when I went, it was just a few days long.
There is a lot of stuff before the actual conference and after. Mostly training and Director Training and then National Director training thereafter.
You guys get very prepared.
We try. Yeah.
So what is the question this week?
It is kind of a long question. Let me read it to everyone. This is written by someone- English is a second language, so I am going to kind of paraphrase a little bit as I go. It’s a great question, and one that I am asked as I travel around the world.
The member asks, “We are concerned about the service quality delivered by one of our members. The member is not very professional. However, most of the members who bought her products don’t realize that. These members have no experience. To compare it to those who have experience, they tell and usually complain about her service. The member is taking advantage of BNI to hunt for” [what he calls] “victims. No one dares speak up the truth.”
I think that is an interesting phrase, Priscilla. No one dares speak up the truth.
“We would love your advice. Thank you for your help.”
That’s the question. Pretty serious question.
Here is my answer, particularly to the “no one dares speak up the truth”. Really? No one speaks up? I am always flabbergasted by that. The truth is that in any context – in any culture, in any country- clear, open, honest, direct communication is the only way anyone will ever solve problems in business.
You have to. If you have a member like that in your chapter, you have to have a conversation with that member. First and foremost, talk to the member. The person who has the problem should first talk to the member. If that doesn’t work- Priscilla, off air, you and I talked about this and you gave the answer. You said they need to talk to-
The membership committee. They need to talk tot he membership committee. So when the person has the conversation, and sometimes it’s an awkward conversation to have with somebody. But if you are not happy, you know, before you go tell on them, talk to them and have a conversation.
I know that’s not easy. You tell them you are not happy with their service or are not happy with the product and see how they respond. Sometimes, people will do the right thing and fix it. Oftentimes, people will do the right thing and fix it.
I’ve had problems with BNI members. I had a problem with a BNI member just a couple of weeks ago. Just a couple of weeks ago, Priscilla. I called the person up, told him what the problem was. And do you know what he did?
He fixed it.
He fixed it.
Sometimes, Ivan, you can’t fix what’s wrong, because I had this problem once and the member wasn’t skilled enough. So there is no fixing that.
You’re right, and sometimes that is the case, but you have to start with having the conversation first. Then you go to the membership committee. The membership committee needs to go to the member. So if you go to the member and they are not capable of fixing it, the membership committee should sit down with them and here’s the way I urge membership committees to talk.
This isn’t the way you as an individual should go to the person. Say, “I have a problem with what you have done with the job. It didn’t work out well. How can you fix it?” If they are unable to fix it, go to the membership committee.
The membership committee should go to them and say this: “You have a PR problem. It may or may not be a real problem, but you have a member or you have members believe it is a real problem.”
Now, the reason you do this is first of all, you don’t know for a fact that the member who is complaining is correct, although if you have two or three members complaining, chances are pretty good that it is correct. But it allows people to save face. If you can allow people to save face, you are going to solve the problem.
You have to ask yourself, is my goal to hammer that person for not doing a good job, or is my goal to get the job fixed and(or) get the person out of the chapter? If your goal is the second, then you have the membership committee sit down with the person and say, “You have a PR problem. Don’t know if ti’s real. Don’t know if it’s not, but we do know that perception is as good as reality when it comes to complains, and there is a perception that you are not able to do the job well. You need to address that perception.”
Then, listen to their response. They will either deal with the problem effectively and fix it, or they will be defensive and give all the reasons why it’s not fixable, it’s not working, blah blah, blah.
If they are defensive, that is when the membership committee needs to say, “The PR problem is not going to go away. It is going to make it very difficult for people to refer you,” and then here is the key: you open the door for them to walk out by saying, “It’s okay for you to step out of the group and come back when the timing is better.”
You may never want the person back ever, but they have to save face, so you say it’s okay to step on out of the group, deal with this issue down the road and come back when the timing is better.
Now, I am a realist, Priscilla. You can butt heads with the person. You can throw them under the bus. You can get really upset with them. But the truth is they will go away yelling, kicking and screaming, which is not going to help anyone.
I believe in having clear, open, honest communication- telling them how you feel, and if they don’t fix the problem, telling them they have a problem. At the very least it’s a PR problem, if nothing else. If they are unable to fix it, let them leave. That solves the issue in terms of getting them out of the group so that they don’t have any more, as this member said, “victims”. We don’t want any more victims and they way to deal with that is you have to address it.
That is my recommendation to this member and this chapter.
Yeah, okay. Well, that is good information.
I hope that helps everyone. That was a really good question. It was a tough question. I hope it helps. Remember: clear, open, honest, direct communication. Talk to the person first. Then go to the membership committee. The membership committee should go to them and say, “You have a PR problem.” and then listen to their answer. Based on their answer, determine whether that person is a good fit or not.
The membership committee has to do the tough thing if they don’t leave and that is open their classification. I hope that helps everybody. Thanks, Priscilla.
Okay, great. Thank you, Ivan. Well, 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.