People come running into the DBA’s corner office (okay, windowless cube) with all kinds of issues and they’re not sure what’s a database problem, what’s an application problem, or what is just a general complaint.
Here’s some examples of vague requests:
- “Man, this application is so slow.”
- “The profit numbers on this report don’t seem right.”
- “I think it’d be really cool if we had a new tool for our warehouses.”
- “Have you read this article on database report tools?”
DBAs, being the selfless workers that we are, want to immediately drop everything and focus on their problem – but that’s not always the right answer.
As a DBA, you can help eliminate the confusion with a simple question: “Okay, let’s make sure we’re on the same page: what actions do you want me to take right now?”
The three bold words are the important ones to stress, because sometimes you’ll get answers like:
- “Oh, I didn’t really want you to do anything – I just wanted to see if you’d heard that from anybody else too, or if it was just me.”
- “I want you to double-check the numbers in the report.” (Well, that may not be the DBA’s job – it may be better to route them to the reporting team.)
- “It depends – are you doing anything right now?” (Answer yes, and take a minute to show them what you’re doing. It’ll scare them off just knowing you don’t sit around dreaming of ways to spend that big fat paycheck.)
Do yourself a favor: before you jump into the telephone booth to change into your Superhero costume, take a minute to ask the person exactly whose life they want you to save. No need to be seen in those tights if you can avoid it.