7 Ways Micromanagement Stifles Creativity


“We agree completely that micromanagement is a big mistake. It diminishes people’s self-confidence, saps their initiative, and stifles their ability to think for themselves. It’s also a recipe for screwing things up—micromanagers rarely know as much about what needs to be done as the people they’re harassing, the ones who actually do it.”
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Micromanagement happens when a leader tries to control every aspect of how another employee, or group of employees performs their role, or even tasks within their role. This stye of management does more harm that good as it suggests the leader must have total control, doesn’t trust the employees or doesn’t have faith in their ability to do the job.

The end result of this style of leadership is a stifling of creativity and innovation in the organization. When all decisions have to go through the leader and every idea is scrutinized, the employee’s creativity stagnates. Here’s why:

  1. Employees become disengaged. When they feel they are not trusted, or everything is under someone’s personal microscope, or they feel that their input and ideas don’t matter, employees become apathetic and are no longer emotionally invested in the project or the company.
  2. Employees don’t grow. When employees are not free to do the work they feel they’ve been given to do without being trusted and valued, growth stops. When leaders look for every small mistake or make trivial changes to what the employee has suggested, the employees are boxed into a job where they feel they can’t make any mistakes, and risk-taking is not esteemed. Learning from mistakes and successful risk taking lead to growth and employee satisfaction.
  3. Employees don’t feel appreciated. When every aspect of their job is under observation and scrutiny employees often feel rewarded or that leaders care about the blood, sweat and tears that they have put into the job.
  4. Employees don’t feel trusted. When every idea is either stifled, changed or redirected, or when every move is watched for errors, employees not only don’t feel trusted, they won’t trust leaders or other employees. An organization without trust can hardly grow since little creation and innovation happen when people don’t trust each other.
  5. Employees feel forced to work the same way. We all think differently and approach challenges from different perspectives. Micromanagers expect employees to work in the same way, typically the way they used to do it. There’s no reason to dictate the way the end goal is reached if the results match the expectations and original goals.
  6. Employees become passive-aggressive. When leaders are micromanagers often the employees who remain with the organization become passive-aggressive. The organization becomes characterized by employees who show indirect resistance to the leader’s demands. They avoid direct confrontation and often procrastinate and develop a “Fine, Whatever,” attitude.
  7. The company won’t attract creative people. Companies have personalities and when the word is out that XXX, Inc, is known a style of micromanagement it will not attract the best creative talent and people on staff who are creative will leave for a more innovation-friendly environment.

If you are a leader who feels you must control everything, take some time to evaluate your leadership style. If you feel your organization lacks the innovation and creativity to grow to the next level, maybe the problem isn’t them; it’s your need to micromanage.


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