How To Micromanage Small Teams Without Crushing Creativity?

More than often, in the corporate world, micromanagement has stifled creativity. So how can small teams be led effectively? Read here…

Micromanagement is often dubbed as the “corporate darkness” that hurts creativity, how do you battle this issue and lead a small team without killing their spirit?

In the world of corporate dynamics, one term that often sends shivers down the spines of small, closely-knit teams is “micromanagement.” This article delves into the perils of micromanagement, particularly its detrimental effects on team morale and creativity.

The disgruntled micromanager

Corporate Darkness: Micromanagement

Of all the people I have worked with, I have faced the utter disappointment of working with Mr. Voldemort, a disgruntled micromanager for a small team of creatives. The one who must not be named was so stuck up on the right way to suck soul that he had nearly slaughtered the entire team morale.

Mr Micromanager Extraordinaire was a man of taste and corpora world standard. He knew branding in the way only Nike could – Just Do It. He was responsible for every detail; after all, without his directions, his team would fail to deliver, what to do, it was filled with morons.

Why do you care so much?

The story of Voldemort started with the same need for perfection as the dark lord had in the wizarding world. The hours spent explaining rules on expressing thoughts and voicing agreements that coincided with the company’s ”how to” documents were, by far, the worst parts of the meticulously planned dictate.

In all fairness, Voldemort wasn’t inadvertently an evil person, just that he had a knack for sucking even the smallest joys out of his team members. Picture yourself on a bright Monday morning, all chirpy and filled with energy to conquer the impossible. You have exhausted your to-do task list for the day by mid-morning.

Suddenly, you feel an uneasy, sulky presence behind you. You turn around, and voilà! You lock eyes with an angry tomato; pissed off at a minor mistake you had made last week.

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Next thing you know, you are being called names, preferably of an insect or animal, despite the fact that you have efficiently done your work, delegated tasks, reviewed your team’s work, and had a productive day.

The detrimental effects of micromanagement

Voldemort monitored our team with the eyes of a hawk. Details were all he cared about, and perfection was key.

Micromanagement is the silent ghoul in the massive corporate glossary that houses all terms – good, neutral, and evil; a dementor sucking out all creativity and suffocating productivity. Though many might decline to acknowledge its presence, it discriminates none, from small cubicle owners to airy open-spaced players.

I wouldn’t say that micromanagement is inherently evil; for when things go awry, a pinch of the bitter ingredient might help maintain track and lessen chaos. However, when it comes to small, close-knit teams like ours, it is as evil as chillies in your pain au chocolat.

Small teams depend on creativity and autonomy, and the reign of the micromanager will create the untimely demise through the blunt yet painful weapon called demoralization.

Michael Seelman, CEO of Leadership Coach Group, a global executive coaching firm, agrees that micromanagement breaks teams and makes people quit. Seelman adds that leaders should focus on results, not on controlling people.

Trust and empowerment: the antidote to micromanagement


With time, team meetings became a chore, people stopped breathing in Mr Micromanager’s presence, and weird rumours and jokes flew at the expense of his name. His belief had ultimately led to his team’s downfall, is what I would like to say. However, it would be a false statement.

Micromanagement is too deeply rooted in the corporate ecosystem, i.e., literally a daunting task to uproot this evil.

So, the question remains. Is there an antidote to lessen the impact of the fool’s play?

The answer is simple! Yes, trust and empowerment.

But details matter!

Mr. Voldemort had fanned the correct beliefs the wrong way. He believed in details, always had, but the road to viewing details the proper way was to be earned.

True success lies in minute details, but those are micro results of growth, which come only through the proper delegation of autonomy and the processing of self-learning through mistakes. Details are about setting a vision, providing the necessary resources, and then stepping back to let the magic happen.

“Microencouragement” is the new dawn

Ultimately, people should be given space for growth and encouraged to make mistakes and learn through them.

A steady learning curve is what makes all the difference. People bloom under good leaders, not wither away. Voldemort would have to shed his robes and sacrifice his wand one day.

The story above vividly demonstrates how a micromanager’s fixation on perfection can erode team morale and stifle creativity. While there might be scenarios where micromanagement is beneficial, it’s typically a poor fit for teams that thrive on independence and innovation.

The remedy for this issue lies in building trust and empowering team members. This means recognizing the importance of details while granting autonomy, promoting small-scale encouragement, and encouraging growth through learning from mistakes.

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Image source: CanvaPro

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