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Recently I shared some thoughts here on the MSP Help Desk blog that spoke about “interest versus commitment,” a very interesting article that led to a number of public and private side discussions with clients during our weekly consulting calls.  We easily identified key relationships inside and outside the business to which we were committed versus those in which we were just interested.

These conversations helped us recognize that being committed to having relationships with staff, clients and vendors versus just an interest in relationships led to increased morale, better vendor relations and a profitable, long-term, mutually trusting client experience.

What I didn’t expect was a deeper, more complex and potentially disastrous next level. As we scraped away at the service, we discovered that there’s a fine line between being committed and being attached. With attachment, vision in blurred, decisions are delayed or never made, and accountability doesn’t exist. Attachment is the ugly sister of commitment.

What exactly is attachment, and why is it potentially disastrous in business? We have all seen what happens when someone is attached. Has this ever occurred in your IT consulting business: A technician spends 20 hours fixing an issue with a 5-year old laptop versus just replacing the system with a newer model?

Another example touches on outsourcing help desk tasks to an organization that specializes in hosted help desk services.  We all want to provide exceptional client services, but some are too attached to negative experiences with outsourced help desks to see the overall benefit of using them.  We use phrases such as “Our clients will never go for it,” or “Our clients demand someone local,” or “The MSP Help Desk won’t understand our clients’ needs” when it is exactly the opposite.  An outsourced help desk takes stress away from your team, allowing them to get their lives back, and provides another set of eyes to look at issues.

Why does these scenarios happen?  Attachment keeps us from facing reality. We can deal with it when our techs spend too much time on an old system, but what happens when a business owner is attached to his business versus being committed to its success?

In the business coaching world, many of my peers call this “the inability to get out of your own way.”  In a recent conversation with an MSP, this exact challenge was causing the business to spiral, potentially, out of control.  It was hemorrhaging cash and satisfaction scores had hit all-time lows. The business owner was so attached to his business that he missed the challenges facing it, or worse, he noticed and did nothing to overcome them.  This often leads to damaging impact on the bottom line and diminishes morale amongst all involved, including the owner.

How do you prevent attachment from occurring in the first place?  I believe it starts by establishing the right team and holding everyone accountable for his actions.  Many of my clients have now implemented systems that force each team member to send a daily email to all staff letting them know what is on her, prioritized, work list each morning and again at the end of the day.   Many are starting to take this to the next level by having quick morning huddles a couple of times per week.  Why?  It gets everyone on the same page and lessens the risk of one person or a small group expending a lot of energy without the rest of the team’s being aware.

What if you are a business owner or just a one-person operation?  What can you do?  Find some peers you can trust and have regular meetings with your small group.  You may also find a business consultant who can help with focus and accountability.

The fine line between commitment and attachment can easily be crossed.  Spot the warning signs early.  If you find yourself saying, “that will never work” or “our organization is too complex for daily check-ins to work,” you’re probably more attached to your business than committed to its success.