You're not really that good at SQL Server

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item You're not really that good at SQL Server - submitted

  • Wow.

  • Yes I agree with what you say entirely Steve, but with SQL Server there is so much to learn and practice that it is never ending. You also have to guard against 'getting rusty' and that means going over the stuff that you learned a month ago !

  • I agree on most of the points and disagree on some others. Huh that's why debates are interesting.

    Often, when I speak about SQL with colleagues, they all pretend "Yes, I know SQL". "OK but you're not an expert.". "Yes I am, I write queries joining tables with complex restrictions.". "Oh fine! And what if you have more complex stuff to do on large datasets". "Well I write a SQL query to retrieve the dataset and write a program to perform the logic, calculations". "I see.".

    If now I speak to my boss and tell him. "The program that is written takes about 2 hours to run. I can quickly write a SQL query that takes 15s. It's an important query for the business. Do you want me to improve it?". "No, thanks". "Why?". "You'll be the only that can help us if something goes wrong.". "Then hire somebody who knows SQL ...". "But they know SQL!"

    Where are the standards?


  • I totally agree with your viewpoint Steve. There is a lot to keep up with and outside of pushing yourself, no one is going to do it for you. The thing I find is stagnation whenever I go into a new place as a consultant, they are either sticking to the basics or are struggling with even those. I like to keep as up to date as I can, but with so many new features and Microsofts relentless release pace, it can be very difficult at times and I can understand people falling behind the curve, I haven't even had a chance to look at 2019 yet, I know I need to make time soon though, so I will.

    There are a lot of people that call themselves DBAs that just aren't. As an example, in my current place, I am looking after 70+ servers in all kinds of states and trying to enforce a standard before they attempt to move to Azure. I was brought in to cover until the next permy starts and I can honestly say, they are going to be swamped as the previous 'DBA' just seemed to let anything go and it seems that was simply because they would not put their foot down or their knowledge wasn't great enough for the position they were put in.

  • There are a number of things people lack that lead to sucking at their job: motivation, self-respect, discipline, initiative,'s a complex issue. One way to resolve it is through leading by example and better management.

  • Not being good at SQL Server != Not being good at your job

    Not everyone that uses SQL Server is an SQL Server professional. Do they need to be? Not necessarily. It depends what the job is.

    I suspect you were being deliberately provacative to make a point. Anyone who professes to be an SQL Server professional should, well be professional.

  • brennang wrote:

    ... One way to resolve it is through leading by example and better management.

    YES, but amongst the managers ...

    "There are a number of things people lack that lead to sucking at their job: motivation, self-respect, discipline, initiative, vision…it’s a complex issue"


  • Broad problems with employee "engagement" are relevant here I think. There's lots of literature and studies out there that tell you that most employees are poorly engaged or not engaged at all with their jobs.

    For various reasons the community of SQL Server professionals should be considerably better than the wider population. But on the other hand a higher proportion will work in large corporates where the engagement problem is worst. Overall I wouldn't be surprised if many, perhaps most, SQL Server professionals are quite poorly engaged.

    Another thought is to reflect on the tendency to for anyone worth their salt to be promoted out of a technical job and ceasing to be a tech practitioner. There are some areas and some companies where this works better but generally speaking there are limited opportunities to remain fully engaged in a technical field if you have skill and ambition. This applies widely in software, the good ones move on up and you're left with a few good practitioners who prefer to keep doing what they are good at + the dregs (disengaged) + the newbies.

  • Most people aren't all that good at their jobs, to be fair. The bar is incredibly low and most people get by being fairly mediocre.

    My DBA skills are definitely lacking in certain areas (my ability tends to correlate to how interesting I find the topic in question). That's ok. I have other skills that are more valuable than/go well alongside pure DBA stuff.

    I've been interviewing candidates recently for a contract DBA role in my team, and most of them can't answer a question coherently, let alone explain a technical concept to a non-technical audience, or discuss the pros and cons of various HA/DR options OR just get the date in T SQL. These are all people who command a very good day rate. It doesn't appear to be holding them back very much!

  • Steve, as you know there are a million different types of shops that use SQL server and they all require different approaches. Yes people need to improve their skills to the level they want to be or are required to be. However not everyone needs to be an SQL Jedi. I think that telling people they will be made fun of at the Twitter water cooler is not a good way to motivate people. I know it has no affect on me. Be careful that you don't become the Dilbert guy standing around mocking people.


  • Thank you Steve; you're spot on here and I thank you for calling us to task on this.


  • I think Phillip is right about the 'getting rusty' problem. I always thought I was pretty good at my job with the experience that I had accumulated, but now I'm at a place where I wouldn't hire myself. Of course, having been retired for ten years will do that to you, but the point is well made. I think the more you 'settle in' to a position, you tend to be satisfied with what is required for that and it's easy to 'get by'. As long as you keep pace with what that one position requires, there is less pressure.

    Disaster Recovery = Backup ( Backup ( Your Backup ) )

  • Haha. Who needs that negativity in their life? Unsubscribed... (p.s. sensationalist clickbait journalism should stay in the sphere of nasty politics, not here). IT folks are too intelligent for that.

  • The longer I am in life, the more I think that many men don't learn to be good fathers. They learn just enough to solve the problems they face and get rid of the problem at hand, and that’s it. You'd think that after 10 years they'd be masters in the art of parenting. Nope. What they really know could be taught in a day, and most of what they think they know is not even true. It's just regurgitated nonsense they got from their parents, who also never took the time to study the subject.

    I get it. You need to get work done. When things seem to be OK, you don’t want to increase your stress or workload. You have a job, your children have nowhere else to go, and you don’t see the need to teach them about love, empathy, conflict resolution, health, and awareness. It’s human, and it’s how most people approach parenthood.

    Do you want to be the person that appears as a joke on Twitter, The Daily WTF, or a blog because you don’t know how to build your child's self-esteem and make them happy, healthy, responsible, productive contributors to society? Do you want to be the character that other people laugh about?

    Or do you want to be the person who does the job right and will look back with contentment after they have left your house? If so, make an effort to regularly and continuously improve your skills. Even if you are strong in some areas, practice those skills and build others.

    Please feel free to pass this along. I’d like to see most fathers as craftsman, not factory workers.

    Homework: Write something like this on cooking, gardening, cleaning, home improvement, or any other subject that requires skills. And then realize how silly it is. Enjoy!

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