Years ago, I was sitting in the 9:00 am weekly DBA meeting, on a Wednesday. Each one of us got a turn to speak about tasks, projects, challenges we were facing that week.
One DBA gets the turn to speak, and opens the conversation with “Not much for me this week.”

The phrase “Not much for me this week” stuck with me for years, and forever will.

Why?

Because, instead of putting the DBA in a powerful position, to showcase the strengths and abilities, it puts the DBA in a weak position, especially when said to a team lead. If there isn’t much going on for this DBA, then why is the DBA here, why is the company paying him?

You never ever want to be in this position!
You want to be in a powerful position, where you can list, at any time, all the things you bring to the table!

It’s very easy to become unnoticed as a DBA, especially if you are doing your job very well. Databases are available, users are happy, tickets get answered on time, tasks for projects get completed.
This is awesome, you are doing your job right!

But wait … at what cost?

Are you working overtime? Maybe you show up way early in the morning, or stay late. Maybe you work weekends.

Is anyone aware except you and your family, of the extra effort you are putting in?

Today’s article is inspired from an email I got from a good DBA friend of mine.

As DBAs we strive to ensure database availability, fix performance problems, and so on. Can you imagine if the accounting application would not be available on a Friday morning, prior to month end because the database crashed?
I am sure we would make it to the worst employee of the month list. I don’t want to make it to worst, or best employee of the month list

My goal, and I am sure everyone else’s too, is to feel appreciated by others at work, feel that I made a contribution, feel that I made a difference at work.
We want to feel that we add value to the team. Also, my goal is to get the raise if, and when the moment comes.

How can I show my lead that I am of value to the team or company?
To answer that question, lets take a step back and look at what managers and leaders require of DBAs?

  • DBA gets the job done
  • DBA provides database availability
  • DBA is reliable, capable
  • DBA is motivated, and self driven
  • DBA is willing to work extra time, if needed

If you can provide the above and more, you are on the right track. That is why, you need to let your managers know, when any of the followings occur:

1. Anytime you work outside regular hours.

Are you showing up in the office extra early, when others just press the snooze button on the alarm clock? Or maybe you are an evening person, and decide to put in extra 2 hours of work from home, just to finish off your task.
No matter when you put in the extra hours, make sure your manager knows.

2. Anytime you complete a challenging task.

Did you just made the 2 hour report run in 10 minutes? Did you figure out how to complete that daunting task that nobody in the team wanted to deal with? Not only be proud of yourself, tell your team lead too!
Even better, if the challenge you overcame affected multiple groups, let everyone know you did it! Other groups need to know the truth. DBAs don’t just sit at their desks searching the web, waiting for tickets to come.
No. DBAs are actually working hard to ensure databases, reports and projects run smoothly!

3. Anytime you improve or create a process.

When I started working at a client, there were no scripts to facilitate changing passwords in all the databases. It was a manual task, and you would edit the script and run it in each and every single database.
First chance I had, I automated that process, and so many others. I couldn’t stand the thought of these manual processes.
When you see something that can be improved, take action and improve it! Don’t wait for others to do it.
When you do create the script, process, or documentation, advertise it to your team and leader. You do want to take credit for the work, don’t you?

All the above, will show the value you are adding to the team and company!

The next question I hear you asking is, “I feel I am bragging if I tell others what I did. How do I tell?

The last thing you want, is to sound full of yourself, arrogant and bragging.

Here are some ideas, that I use, to ensure my manager knows what I’m doing:

1. Casual conversation in the lunch room.

Just mention you are feeling tired a bit because you had worked till midnight to fix the account report. Or maybe you had skipped your workout at lunch time, in order to deploy a change.

2. Weekly or monthly DBA team meetings.

Bring up the projects you’re working on, the overtime you’re working. Mention the challenges and fixes you have put in. Mention the new script you created and it’s benefits.

3. Email the team.

When I create something of value for the DBA team, such as a script or documentation, I email the group with instruction on how to use it and where it’s located. You can even put together a short demo.

4. Status Reports.

If your team uses status reports, include projects and tasks you’re working on with your accomplishments.

5. Recommendations.

These are important. Always look out for ways to improve processes or tasks, and start working on them.

Now you have the tools in your hand to show your value to the team and company, and to make your presence known in the IT department!

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–Diana


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