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How well do you really know your colleagues? Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 7:56 AM


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Ah, my probationary period for one job started right in the middle of a major project. There'd been over a hundred scope changes the the project was due the end of my first month. The boss was head down in the project (no time to train me to help him) and gave me a data model / out-of-date data dictionary for the main app database.

So I spend the first week reading up on the database, then find myself receiving troubleshooting emails. So I ask my co-worker (the only other DBA team on the team) what the procedures are for fixing these problems and he freaks out. Literally at the top of his lungs, screaming so the entire office can hear him, that this is his job and he doesn't need *my* help doing it. My new boss talked to me later on, apologizing for the co-worker's behavior.

My advice to people, if you're going to accept employment, try to get hired during Crunch Time. There's nothing better about telling you what kind of people you're working with than seeing them under extreme pressure before you're committed.

Of course, I've been committed for years. Occasionally my handlers even let me out of my cage and pretty white jacket (it even ties in the back!) to speak at SQL Saturdays. @=)


Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database Administrator

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Post #949298
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 10:11 AM


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So I spend the first week reading up on the database, then find myself receiving troubleshooting emails. So I ask my co-worker (the only other DBA team on the team) what the procedures are for fixing these problems and he freaks out. Literally at the top of his lungs, screaming so the entire office can hear him, that this is his job and he doesn't need *my* help doing it. My new boss talked to me later on, apologizing for the co-worker's behavior.


DBA's tend to be very territorial, fact of life. However that said, that still does not excuse anyone acting like that in the workplace. HR should have gotten involved. :)


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Post #949418
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 10:42 AM
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Travis is right on with what I see in my place of employment, too. It saddens me that the people who get promoted almost never seem to deserve it, and worse - they will take credit for your work in a heartbeat and never even acknowledge you.
Post #949447
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 11:09 AM


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TravisDBA (7/8/2010)
So I spend the first week reading up on the database, then find myself receiving troubleshooting emails. So I ask my co-worker (the only other DBA team on the team) what the procedures are for fixing these problems and he freaks out. Literally at the top of his lungs, screaming so the entire office can hear him, that this is his job and he doesn't need *my* help doing it. My new boss talked to me later on, apologizing for the co-worker's behavior.


DBA's tend to be very territorial, fact of life. However that said, that still does not excuse anyone acting like that in the workplace. HR should have gotten involved. :)


HR didn't have to get involved. He was a contractor. @=)

Oddly enough, I haven't met very many DBAs who are territorial. Most of the ones I know are good with sharing duties, solutions, etc. I hear more stories about territorial developers and server admin that I've heard about DBAs, in fact.


Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database Administrator

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Post #949460
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 5:48 PM
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There's a great line spoken by John Milton (played by Al Pacino) in the movie "The Devil's Advocate":

"Pressure. Changes everything. Some people, you squeeze them, they focus. Some people fold."

The movie is from 1997 and that line has stuck with me ever since. I say it to myself when I start to feel the pressure. I want to focus, not fold.



James Stover, McDBA
Post #949671
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 6:37 PM


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Nice article. I agree that a lot can be learned from people during crunch time. However, you can learn a lot from them also when there is nothing going on. What about the DBA that has no projects and the servers seem to be running fine? What does that DBA do when he has a lot of free time?



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Post #949673
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 8:09 PM
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How well do you know your colleagues in a real disaster time? Well, in the army that's a very good question. who will do run forward and who will panic? Actually, there are two parameters: the first is the unknown. There is no way to really tell who will react how. That's a question that army officers deal with and they haven't figured out a way.
The second is: when people go through several "disaster" options, when people do the drill (disaster recovery for example) then they know what to do. It's that simple.
So you shouldn't ask yourself "how well do you know your colleagues?". You should ask yourself "what do I want my colleagues to know?"

Personally, when I fell I asked for a certain colleagues. She was as resourceful as I thought she would be.

How to survive air crushes
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You can't predict a solider under fire:[url=http://www.haaretz.com/news/study-soldiers-performance-in-combat-not-related-to-profile-assessments-1.235777]
Post #949690
Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010 10:44 PM
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Im surprised no one has yet mentioned the Dunning Kruger effect. To save you the trouble here is an excerpt from wikipedia:

"The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which an unskilled person makes poor decisions and reaches erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes.[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the perverse situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence: because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding"

You cant judge a person's competence from their level of confidence.

As for how people react under pressure, this is reasonably stable personality trait. Stoic people tend to be stoic most of the time, highly reactive people tend to be highly reactive. Of course even the coolest person can blow up if she has had a tough week, no sleep, and too many fools to deal with.
Post #949721
Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 7:07 AM


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You cant judge a person's competence from their level of confidence.


True, but in many jobs, particularly with IT managers, this tends to be more becauue of the Peter Principle than the Dunning-Kruger effect.

"The Peter Principle is the principle that "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book The Peter Principle, a humorous treatise which also introduced the "salutary science of Hierarchiology", "inadvertently founded" by Peter. It holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Sooner or later they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their "level of incompetence"), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. This principle can be modeled and has theoretical validity. Peter's Corollary states that "in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties" and adds that "work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence".


"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ..."
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Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 11:48 AM
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How someone reacts outside their "comfort" zone is a matter of great unknown. Even individuals cannot predict how they would react at the time or cope in the aftermath. The US Army developed many testing tools to recognize exceptional individuals (both good and bad kind), but after decades of trying out, the matter is still not settled. As I recall, the best one can hope for is trying to understand oneself first.
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