5 Things That Awesome DBAs Do, And You Can To

Did you ever wanted to be THE DBA in your team? You know who I am talking about…The one that knows things no matter what you ask, be that Oracle, SQL Server, Unix, Windows…Do you wish to be the go to DBA, when someone has a problem? Do you want people saying about you that you are reliable, confident, know what you are doing? Do you want to have a good reputation among other DBA professionals?

I live in a city with a million plus population, and the DBA community is pretty large. A good reputation travels fast, and so does a bad one.

Over the years, I worked with many DBA professionals. I have seen some qualities that were common in the DBAs that were standing out from the crowd.

These qualities I aim to live by every single day.

What are the qualities or actions that would make YOU stand out among the rest of the DBAs? I will discuss The Five Things I noticed that great DBAs do, and YOU can too. You can decide right in this moment to live by these actions if you want to.

I don’t want to keep you waiting, here is the list.

1.Show Up On Time Prepared
2.Lead By Example
3.Ask Questions, Do Not Assume
4.Learn From Mistakes
5.Stop Complaining

1.Show Up On Time Prepared

I read this awesome article in the Forbes magazine one day, about a new revolutionary product called: “Late-No-More“.

“Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.”(Brent Beshore)

What is this “Late-No-More” pill? It is an action that you can take starting now. No more showing up late for meetings and conference calls.

Being late says a lot about you, so does being on time.

Being on time shows respect towards your own time, and the time of others around you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 10 minutes to “kill” in a meeting room or a conference call waiting for others to show up.

The other keyword here is “PREPARED“. What do I mean by that? Usually a meeting has a purpose. I really recommend you do your research as much as you can, prior to a meeting and show up prepared. Let me give you an example.

The meeting you need to attend is to discuss the steps involved for a data center shutdown. When you show up to this meeting, show up prepared with the information of what databases are running in that particular data centers, what needs to be migrated and what needs to be shutdown.

Showing up prepared tells others that you know your stuff.

2.Lead By Example

You must walk the talk in order to gain the trust and confidence of others around you, even if you are not in a lead position.
Let me give you some real life scenarios:

  • If you expect other to follow the Change Control rules you must follow them too.
  • You can’t just alter an init parameter, because nobody will notice.
  • You can’t just truncate a table without a Change Control, because the table is not in use.
  • If you expect other team members to use their personal accounts, instead of sys, then you need to do that too.

Whatever you expect of others, you do it first. Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

3.Ask Questions, Do No Assume

Be curious all the time. If you don’t understand something, ask. I know I do. Asking questions is much better than assuming something. As a matter of fact a Good DBA Never Assumes.

Good DBA Never Assumes

Good DBA Never Assumes


When other teams start using acronyms from their field of expertise, one can get lost. I went to a meeting the other day, and some colleagues kept talking about “8060”. Go figure what the “8060” is. Even if I sounded weird, I was not afraid to interrupt and ask for clarification. It turns out they were referring to NetApp storage system model.

If asking questions is great to do, make sure you don’t ask the same question multiple times, as that could be annoying.

Take notes, write things down, take screenshots or pictures, whatever method you use to remember things or to document.

4.Learn From Mistakes

Making mistakes is human. As a matter of fact, if you don’t make mistakes you won’t grow as a DBA.
In general people are afraid of making mistakes, except children. Have you ever seen a child at a playground thinking “I am afraid of sliding down this slide, what if I make a mistake and I don’t slide down the right way”.

I didn’t.

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and admitting your mistakes. They show us we are human, and reveal things that we didn’t know or we were not aware of.
The important thing is to not make the same mistake many times (not even twice).

Some of my mistakes and lessons learned:

  • crash production database while creating a new database manually. Lesson learned: properly set your environment and verify the environment you are in
  • drop an application user without a backup. Lesson learned: create a rollback strategy for decommissioning an application user
  • didn’t test the rollback plan, and guess what, it didn’t work. Lesson learned: Always test your rollback plan. You will need it when you least expect it

5.Stop Complaining

Working with someone who is complaining lots or constantly is exhausting. People who complain less seem to be more happy and content.

Stop complaining about the developers that write the “bad” code. Is your code always good, or could it get some improvement too. And on the bright side, if all developers would write good code, you’d be out of a job soon.
Stop complaining about the storage and network.

Replace complaining with taking action on what you can. You can do so much about the code, about the network or storage. All these things are out of your control (especially in the bigger environments). Start doing, start working with what you have!

These are the five things you can start doing in your job, and in your life, starting now: show up on time prepared, lead by example, ask questions, don’t assume, learn from mistakes and stop complaining.

What things did you notice, that Awesome DBAs do?

What things are YOU doing that make YOU an Awesome DBA? Leave a message in the comments section below!

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-Diana


2 thoughts on “5 Things That Awesome DBAs Do, And You Can Too

  1. Adding on to a good DBA asking good questions is that DBA’s learn how to say no. It is something my father-in-law, a DBA, is very proud of. He says he had a hard time learning it, but he did learn to tell people no early on. However, he always follows this with good questions so that he can eventually say yes. A good DBA is a problem solver after all.

    1. Hi James, I totally agree with you on that! I used to have a team lead, and her initial answer was always NO, to any request. This made other team members think twice before asking, and when they really needed something, they had to have a good reason for the change.

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