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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

Outstanding DBAs Make Relationships a Priority

In our open all hours global working world, do you ever wonder if perhaps the technology that is supposed to be bringing us closer together is inadvertently creating a world that is instead becoming more isolated?

As Database Administrators (DBAs) technology enables us to work and meet our responsibilities effectively from almost any location in the world. From omnipresent email access (BlackBerry and the like), to the ability to administrate global infrastructures. This locational freedom is certainly not exclusive to DBAs and is becoming more common throughout the workplace.

Speaking with Data Professionals in the community, it certainly seems that more and more people are now regularly working remotely. As our dependency on the office as a hub for all things work dissipates, so too then it seems does our physical interaction with others.

The Hidden Road We Have Already Taken

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a huge advocate for all things technology and of the flexibility and empowerment it has brought forth for the modern working professional. It has certainly had a positive impact in my role as a DBA. The benefits are clear for all to see and yet I wonder if perhaps there is also another more subtle theme at work amidst it all, a path that we are unwittingly being led down. In our evolving world of work we are becoming more integrated on the one hand and yet more isolated in real terms on the other. Allured by technology that is ever increasing in efficiency, value and reward.

These trends certainly look set to continue into the foreseeable future. With a global economy increasingly focussing on reducing business environmental impact, more and more people will find that their world of work is no longer centred around the “traditional” office workspace.

How Close is Good Enough?

Technology has made us more accessible to each other on a global scale, giving the illusion of a world that is a smaller place but are we really closer to one another?

We’re certainly able to communicate and work on a level that was previously not possible but what about the quality of our interactions? Irrespective of the communication medium, it will always be of a lower grade when compared to real world in person interaction. This is obviously not a revelation but the point is of vital importance nonetheless.

I think that if not careful we can become so accustomed to using a particular technology in order to communicate that we inadvertently accept the quality of these interactions as adequate or suitable, when the alternative may in fact provide significantly more value.

Consider some of the working relationships that you have with people and how you use technology to enable them. What if you were able to have that same interaction face-to-face and in person? Do you think it would be more effective? Do you think the quality of relationship would benefit?

Make Relationships a Priority

So just how important are relationships in the workplace then, particularly as we become more isolated from one another in our interactions?

Taken from a recent article in the Financial Times: Leadership depends on keeping it real

I wonder whether, in the excitement of an MBA programme, we really help students to understand that ultimately, it is in the creation of meaningful and authentic relationships that their future as a leader lies?

Very important then it would seem, if the foundations of business teachings are refocusing to target this very subject.

The takeaway point that I would like to leave you with is this, as Data Professionals the more we invest in nurturing the quality of our relationships the more fruitful they become. Take some time to look at your existing work relationships and consider whether “good enough” is really where you want them to be.

Extra Stuff

I find discussions of technology and how it affects our world as we move forward very interesting! I’d love to know what you think, so do please share your thoughts and comments below.

I touched very lightly on a number of much larger subjects regarding the world of work in this post. If the future of work is of interest to you then I highly recommend you take a look at The Shift: The future of work is already here by Lynda Gratton. It’s a fascinating read and came to my attention through a recommended reading list recently published in the Financial Times. If your serious about your career and managing where you want to take it then this title will almost certainly appeal to you.

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Comments

Posted by Ross Petersen on 29 August 2011

I am inclined to agree.

I am "retired" to look after my wife because of ill health.  However, I do quite a lot of voluntary work with both Fusion International & Samaritans Purse.

In respect to Fusion, the main guy I work with is Dave.  There wouldn't be a day that we don't speak to each other on the phone or via skype.

Usually, once each week or fortnight I head to the Southern Tasmanian office to do some work down there for about 3-4 hours.

It seems to me that those 3-4 hours are far more productive than the same amount of time having a meeting using Skype.

It is an advantage using Skype when there are several participants across a number of locations.  

But as John appears to be arguing, I think that the personal face to face interaction is superior to a technology based solution.  I think the face to face situation contributes to relationships in a way that no amount of technology will ever be able to do.

Anyway, that's what I think for what it's worth.

Kind regards

Ross

Posted by Dave Schutz on 29 August 2011

This issue is very relevant and affects all of us not just DBAs. Email, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. make it easier to keep in touch, but are you really talking to the person. Many times I find it easier to send a quick email instead of actually talking to the person, but how much of a connection is made or strengthened as opposed to talking to the person? Digital communications (such as this) don't have the warmth and empathy of actually sitting down with someone and don't engender idea sharing as well.

If you want to grow your IT career it is critical to build relationships and prove you can communicate effectively.

Posted by John Sansom on 29 August 2011

Hi Ross,

Absolutely, I find the same to be true also. Productivity is increased when people/teams physically work together in person.

I wonder if technology will ever truly be able to offer a comparable alternative means/medium to in person interaction? I certainly hope not :-)

Thanks for your comments!

Posted by John Sansom on 29 August 2011

Dave, well said sir. I completely agree.

Any thoughts on how IT professionals should look to build relationships and develop their communication skills?

Thanks for your comments.

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