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What Counts for a DBA: Being Replaceable


What Counts for a DBA: Being Replaceable

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Louis Davidson (@drsql)
Louis Davidson (@drsql)
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item What Counts for a DBA: Being Replaceable



Dizzy Desi
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This is a great viewpoint. Although none of us wants to be replaced unless it's by our own choice, we also typically have enough ego that we want to be remembered in a positive light. If someone else takes over for me and their job is terribly difficult because of the way I've done things, you can bet they will complain and let everyone know that I left a mess.

Hopefully most of you can agree to this - I absolutely love most of my customers, and I don't want to leave them in a bad situation if I leave my position. Therefore, my own "job security" aside, I do try to make sure that I am replaceable.
Mike Dougherty-384281
Mike Dougherty-384281
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Another good reason to be replaceable is that you should be able to "hand off" to a coworker so you can advance within the organization. If you've built yourself into a role so completely that it would be painful to your employer to move you up, then you'll be stuck there until you retire.
Jeff Moden
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What an incredible article. I wish more people had that attitude. I've often told people that if you're indespensable in your current position, you can't get a promotion, can't get a decent night's sleep, and can't take a vacation without your laptop and phone.

And I agree with what "Dizzy" said above. It's a small world and news travels fast. If you leave someone in bad shape even just once, good luck trying to find another job in the local area.

I also don't want to leave any co-workers hanging. In one of the shops I recently worked in, I was teaching the SQL Developers and the resident DBA everything I could on every project. One of the Developers asked me why I was making myself so replaceable by teaching them so much and so many "SQL tricks and secrets". My answer was "I'm not making myself more replaceable. They can replace me at the drop of a hat... any hat. No... You're a good person and a good developer and if something happens to me, I want you to succeed whether you stay here or not. Besides, if you were to say 'I worked with Jeff Moden', I'd want you to be able to live up to that claim." :-)

Sounds kind of corny to most but I've always said it and I live by it. "Pass it forward". The totally unexpected side effect of doing that is that it has come back a hundred fold.

--Jeff Moden

RBAR is pronounced ree-bar and is a Modenism for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column.
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jasona.work
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I agree that one should try to be "replaceable." As Jeff M pointed out, being replaceable means taking a vacation in peace, enjoying time with your friends and family in peace. The people who try to be "irreplaceable" are only hurting themselves, both in their personal and professional lives.

One of the ways to work towards being replaceable is to document *everything*, document thoroughly, and make sure others know where to find this documentation (in the filing cabinet in the basement bathroom with the "beware of tiger" sign on the wall :heheSmile

Jason
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I have a couple of different thoughts:

I try to become valuable to a dept/company- not invaluable. Being invaluable means I created a position with no room to advance. Valuable means the right folks know what I do without me needing to stuff an ego with chest pounding (we all know that type Smile )- that's where reviews, bonuses & raises acknowledge my work. Knowing most people last 2 years or so in a position on average, a job just preps me for the next career challenge. Keeping things in order, documented, making time to cross train keeps me replaceable. It also makes me valuable as an asset. I don't work in a silo (when an issue is resolved, "try it now" isn't good enough of an explanation). I've seen a former enterprise drop 2,500 pink slips on colleagues desks 1 week before Christmas and it stuck: We are all rereplaceable so I use a job to make me more hireable the very next day- every day and that is my focus. As my skills get better, so does my level of proficiency at the current job. Make my skills more dedesirable than the next guys.

It's a competitive thing with me: Yes, I'm replaceable but I'll make sure 1 person alone can't replace me. The last couple jobs replaced me with 2 to 2 1/4 new full timers, (2 as new hires) and that's a form of flattery especially when I cross trained my replacement and it's been established "things are in good order", "best practices are being followed"- and it still takes 2 people to replace me because of skills and proficiencies that are unique to me. That's flattery in my mind.
Dave Poole
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Mike Dougherty-384281 (12/8/2012)
Another good reason to be replaceable is that you should be able to "hand off" to a coworker so you can advance within the organization. If you've built yourself into a role so completely that it would be painful to your employer to move you up, then you'll be stuck there until you retire.


Excellent point. Not much fun watching your colleagues get all the interesting projects and training courses while you are shovelling albatross turds simply because you've gained the knowledge to stop it pecking.

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GeorgeCopeland
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Mike Dougherty-384281 (12/8/2012)
Another good reason to be replaceable [snip]


I agree too and well said. I would point out that the Internet paradigm requires free exchange of information. If you silo your information, you are using an outmoded business model and you are on your way out. I will go so far as to say that making yourself irreplaceable by obscuring a system is unethical. Professionalism demands the opposite.
TravisDBA
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The only DBA's, or even developers for that matter, in the companies I have had experience with in the past that have become "irreplaceable' is because the company let them become that way. By allowing them constantly to not share information, to not document things they are doing, or allow them to assume the "guru' status by letting them handle everything.. If company policy, or managers, allow for this sort of thing to happen in their departments then who do they have to blame? No one person just becomes irreplaceable unless they are allowed to ascend to that position IMHO. Knowledge sharing, resource delegation, and thorough documentation practices must be enforced at a company/department policy level. Otherwise, people with will by nature try to protect their own job security.:-D

"Technology is a weird thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ...:-D"
Sigerson
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As usual, Steve got me to think about an old thing in a new way.

We are all unique and irreplacable beings, and that's a good thing--except when you're responsible for someone else's data (ie, their business). In that situation, I can see that it's a lot more appropriate to consider myself a module, a replaceable unit. Might get hit by a bus, might get downsized, but it's a certainty I won't be here forever.

And in that context as a data handling professional, and whatever I build or implement, I need to ask myself "what can I do to make it easier for the next person to understand and manage this when I'm gone?"

I also agree 100% with Jeff Moden's Pay It Forward philosophy--I like to share what I know.

Knowledge is power only when you share it. If you don't share it, it's a bottleneck.

Sigerson

"No pressure, no diamonds." - Thomas Carlyle
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