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Most important DBA Skill? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, May 3, 2013 11:21 AM


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"One of them said there are only really 3 questions in an interview

Can they do the job?
Will they do the job?
Will they fit in?"


I noticed these aren't ordered in importance to the interviewer. So, if ALL three are desired or required, then it's unrealistic. Like everything else in life, you don't get EVERYTHING you want EVERYTIME. Like the old Rolling Stones song goes "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need...". Thats' life, it's about compromise.. So, based on that, if only one or two traits above were available to you and you needed to fill a CRUCIAL TECHNICAL position and get your company objectives and goals achieved quickly, which would you choose or place the most importance on?


"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1449310
Posted Friday, May 3, 2013 9:01 PM


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I suspect the mix of people skills and technical skills required for a DBA can vary greatly, although generally I would expect the people skill component to become more important as seniority increases. For example if you haven't a clue how to manage people, you'll never never manage a team; you may think you are doing it, of course, but other people will notice that you aren't so you'll soon find yourself doing something else unless you learn that skill quickly enough.

I started out without anything much at all in the way of people skills, but got good training as I drifted up the hierarchy and ended up with some abilities that I never, when younger, imagined I could acquire: for example the ability to appear to suffer fools gladly and to know when it would be inappropriate to exercise that ability. And yes, people skills are very important. But technical skills are important too, probably more important at most levels than people skills.

Being liked requires some excercise of people skills; it is not in itself difficult, unless you want to combine it with other skills like getting people to do what you need, ensuring that architecture and design are sound, and enforcing rigurous quality standards, all of which are things that can make you unpopular unless your "being liked" people skills show you how to tread firmly on people's toes without upsetting them - and that's where people skills get difficult. That's an example of people skills being important in enabling you to exploit your technical skills.

In the end I have to agree with what TravisDBA said about technical skills being what counts when we get right down to basics; but without an appropriate degree of people skill to back the technical skills up (which a gatekeeper like TravisDBA must have, even if he doesn't want to admit having it) it is almost impossible to excercise the technical skills effectively.

PS: that must read like a fence-sitting excercise. But that's not what it's meant to be.


Tom
Post #1449383
Posted Friday, May 3, 2013 9:47 PM


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L' Eomot Inversé (5/3/2013)
I started out without anything much at all in the way of people skills, but got good training as I drifted up the hierarchy and ended up with some abilities that I never, when younger, imagined I could acquire: for example the ability to appear to suffer fools gladly and to know when it would be inappropriate to exercise that ability. And yes, people skills are very important. But technical skills are important too, probably more important at most levels than people skills.

My thumbnail bio: USAF 8 years in skilled job. After USAF several bum around jobs for a few years. Then finally was able to do tech stuff again. I am now the senior DBA, and usually at equal with sys admin skills to the senior IT guy.

One of my managers said in the past that she tried to do both the tech stuff at the same time she was doing personnel management stuff. She sucked at doing both at the same time. And she acknowledged it.

During my interview I told my future boss, I'll do a team project, but I don't want to run the day-to-day management job. My manager values my skills and knows I don't want her job. My project teams know they have to do their jobs. If they don't they know their performance will probably go uphill. My manager respects my opinion -- but knows I'm not the firing manager. The team members know that my disapproval can effect their future job security. But my team members also know that I want the job done, not excuses.

So it really comes down to deciding the track -- tech or manager and living up to it.




----------------
Jim P.

A little bit of this and a little byte of that can cause bloatware.
Post #1449386
Posted Monday, May 6, 2013 2:35 PM


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I always tell people who want to ascend to managment "Hey that's fine. Just make sure you do it for the right reasons. Becoming a manager just to exercise control over people's lives is often the REAL reason people want to become managers in the first place, and it is the worst reason as well." Give all us techies a break and go do something else and leave us alone

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
Post #1449883
Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2013 9:45 AM
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TravisDBA (5/6/2013)
I always tell people who want to ascend to managment "Hey that's fine. Just make sure you do it for the right reasons. Becoming a manager just to exercise control over people's lives is often the REAL reason people want to become managers in the first place, and it is the worst reason as well." Give all us techies a break and go do something else and leave us alone



You nailed it!


Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
Post #1450219
Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 7:13 PM
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I have twice in my career been asked to take over and resurrect failing IT Operation teams comprising of Sys Admins, DBAs, Service Desk, etc.

The underlying failing on both occasions was a lack of effective leadership, standard setting and poor recruitment process. The latter being the most corrosive over time. The organisation had hired people purely on their technical abilities over their soft skills which is completely the wrong way around. Therefore please indulge me to paraphrase the question and provide a different answer.

If you recruit someone on their aptitude (capacity) to learn, keeness, motivation, who is respectful of others, consciencious, honest, (note NO technical skills), you can then provide the framework in which they can grow and acquire the mere technical skills. Recruiting on a person's core DNA / behavioural traits has consistently proven a successful method. Any immediate high-end technical skills needed are filled short-term via the contractor market.

What you get, over time, is a committed, capable and customer focussed workforce. At least that's been my experience.

ps the single most important tech skill for a DBA is their ability to ensure the recoverability of an organisation's data
Post #1450860
Posted Friday, May 10, 2013 12:46 AM
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Well said Sir.

Sadly, almost by definition, those who seek career advancement are those least deserving of it. The is much evidence and research indicating that many of the behaviours which encourage advancement in a corporate environment, are akin to those with those of a sociopathic, psychopathic and/or nihillisitic tendencies. Scary thought hey
Post #1451425
Posted Friday, May 10, 2013 3:22 AM


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PompeyTID (5/8/2013)
If you recruit someone on their aptitude (capacity) to learn, keeness, motivation, who is respectful of others, consciencious, honest, (note NO technical skills), you can then provide the framework in which they can grow and acquire the mere technical skills. Recruiting on a person's core DNA / behavioural traits has consistently proven a successful method. Any immediate high-end technical skills needed are filled short-term via the contractor market.

The problem with this is that there are things you want doing by someone with a long term commitment to the organisation, but that require technical knowledge and know-how that will take too long to acquire without a good solid technical background to start from. This is maybe pretty rare as a requirement for DBAs (it is pretty rare for software developers, why should DBAs be different) but it will happen from time to time. So it isn't always possible to recruit long term employees with NO regard to technical skills. I agree that it usually is, and of course what a recruitment agent or an HR wallah thinks is a technical skill usually is just parrot learning (why oh why do adverts for developers require experience with particular programing languages and tools rather than the ability to pick up trivial things like that quickly and easily and experience of designing things and developing them) so if those are the technical skills you want to leave out of recruitment you are absolutely right, but in that case what does you reference to the short term contractor market mean?

ps the single most important tech skill for a DBA is their ability to ensure the recoverability of an organisation's data

A lot of people think that, but they are wrong. The DBA's function is to ensure that the databases are fit for purpose. If fitness for purpose requires recoverability, then that is part of what has to be ensured - but even then, it may not be the most important part.


Tom
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