Is your project manager over ambitious?

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

There is nothing wrong with being an ambitious project manager in your career; being an ambitious person with an eye to the future is what can ultimately help you to get where you want to be. This might be a new role within the company you already work for, completing a complex project successfully or a move to a more interesting project manager role elsewhere. If you are the sort of ambitious person who is constantly looking to improve their project management skills by gaining more project management qualifications then this is not necessarily a bad thing; although it is important to remember that putting your skills into practice in the real world is often the best form of learning. Other forms of ambition such as trying to make yourself appear better at your job at the expense of others are not so good.

The tell-tale signs of over-ambition

Ambition comes in many forms, so just how can you tell if your project manager is too ambitious? Over ambition can be as simple as a project manager taking on far too much work at once. When this happens, and they try to achieve more than is realistically possible or even necessary then it can lead to a project manager losing sight of what in fact needs to be achieved in order for the project to be successful. These high levels of over ambition can often lead to a project manager pushing the members of their team to achieve more and more and often with unrealistic goals and deadlines. This in turn can lead to failure, but more than that it can also result in a bad relationship developing between a project manager and the members of their project team.

Whether over ambition on a project is setting unrealistic goals that promise stakeholders a completed project in a very short timeframe, believing that you can pull off a successful project with a small team where a much larger one is needed or even thinking that you can save the clients’ money on their budget whilst still pulling off a successful outcome it is vitally important as a project manager that you are not over ambitious on your project

It is a sign of a great project manager to be able to understand just how much work can be achieved by your team in a set timeframe – in fact it is usually better to overestimate the time needed rather than to underestimate it which will of course allow for any unforeseen issues occurring.

With the wealth of technology that is available to the project manager today it is important to remember that almost anything is possible however not all at the same time, for the same project or indeed on a budget that is rather limited. Being ambitious within the confines of a project can lead to stresses in the workplace and team that are easily avoidable.

Addressing over-ambition

If a project manager is becoming too ambitious, and you feel this could detrimentally affect your project, early communication is key to reining in an over ambitious approach to a project and bringing things back on track.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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