to Curb the Curmudgeon in the Corner
viewed as prima donnas, DBAs can be curmudgeons who
have vast technical knowledge, but limited people
skills. Just about every database programmer has their
favorite DBA story -- those famous anecdotes that
begin with "I have a problem..." and end
with "...and then he told me to stop bothering
him and read the manual." DBAs simply do not have
a warm and fuzzy image, which probably has more to do
with the nature and scope of the job than anything
else. The DBMS spans the enterprise, effectively
placing the DBA on call for the applications of the
fact that DBAs often must sit down and work things
through on their own can be a mitigating factor for
this poor reputation. Many database problems require
periods of quiet reflection and analysis to resolve.
And, due to the vast knowledge most DBAs possess,
their quiet time is usually not quiet; constant
interruptions to answer questions and solve problems
are a fact of life.
should not be encouraged to be anti-social. In fact,
DBAs should be trained to acquire exceptional
communication skills. Data is the lifeblood of
computerized applications. Application programs are
developed to read and write data, analyze data, move
data, perform calculations using data, modify data,
and so on. Without data there would be nothing for the
programs to do. The DBA is at the center of the
development life cycle -- ensuring that application
programs have efficient, accurate access to the
corporation's data. Many DBAs are so caught up in the
minutiae of the inner-workings of the DBMS that they
never develop the skills required to relate
appropriately to their co-workers and customers.
manager who rises from DBA to DBA manager might not
know how to curb the curmudgeon. Worse, he might agree
with the behavior. DBA management must help to grow
the DBA staff in the desired direction through
encouragement, opportunity, and incentives. More
importantly, the DBA manager must lead by example.
your DBAs are curmudgeons, here are some ideas to help
turn them around:
automated DBA tools to streamline database
administration by offloading some of the more
tedious day-to-day tasks to software. Doing so can
do a world of good for the mindset of a busy DBA.
up some technical training budget, because a
well-trained DBA is a happier DBA. This tactic is
not just for the DBAs, but for the application
development staff as well. Many DBA nightmares are
focused on tuning poorly coded applications, so a
better-trained programmer will also reduce stress.
the carrot of incentives in front of the
curmudgeon DBAs. In other words, make
interpersonal skills part of their quarterly
objectives. Better behavior can be encouraged in
some DBAs by making it worthwhile for them to
interact better with the IT staff.
you might even consider having some of your better
application folks in the organization contribute
to the performance appraisals of your DBA staff.
When someone knows that the people they serve will
have input into their annual report, it is amazing
how quickly a spirit of cooperation can blossom.
bottom line is that DBAs cannot afford to be
curmudgeons. In this day and age of interconnected
systems and complex technology, interpersonal
relationships and teamwork are required for a DBA to