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Behavioral Economics in Managing Database Administrators

Patrick Gates | | March 30, 2016

Managing database administrators is a difficult job. DBAs are in great demand in the marketplace, and they know it; they can quit over a misunderstanding and have a new job in the morning. They may feel like they are constantly under pressure, understaffed, and under attack in one crisis after another. It’s no wonder the burnout rate for DBAs is high and job turnover is continuous. Surely there’s a better way.

Datavail just released a whitepaper entitled 3 Ways for DBA Managers to Thrive in a Global Enviroment, and it’s filled with simple but effective tips to help you build and maintain a strong DBA team. For example, what is the one of the most important ingredients for success? Facilitating mutual respect.

One of the ways you can show and build respect is by scheduling meetings in a way that accommodates the schedules of your global workforce. Be aware of the time zones and the holidays of various nations, cultures and religions and schedule accordingly.

Some inconvenience cannot be avoided. But, it is the DBA manager’s job to ensure that the burden of off-hours calls or meetings falls evenly across the team and that team members are aware of the sacrifices other team members are making.

Behavioral economics provides a framework for cultivating mutual respect among diverse global teams. It was behavioral economists who discovered that there’s a pretty clear financial threshold where more money does not increase happiness.

Most DBAs are past that point. So if you want to motivate them, you have to make their lives better, not just their finances. If you focus on things that people highly value, you’ll find that it costs very little money, relatively, and much more time plus humility to motivate a team to perform consistently well.

For example, behavioral economists discovered that every member of an effective, working team believes they have contributed an above-average amount to the team. How is that possible? One reason is that each member of the team is aware of 100% of their own contributions, but not everyone else’s. Part of keeping the team happy is noting contributions, especially those that might not be visible to other team members.

Another reason each team member feels they have contributed more than average to the team is that the total output of a team should be greater than the sum of its individual parts; otherwise, why have the team? Indeed, teams that are diverse have been shown to outperform teams that are not diverse by a significant amount.

In an article in Psychology Today that examines the effectiveness of teams, Dr. Denise Cummins notes an economics study showing that teams that are gender-diverse outperform single-gender teams by 41%. A similar significant increase in output comes from teams that are geographically diverse.

A 2014 Gallup study also found that a demographically diverse workforce improves a company’s financial performance.

The result is that the output of teams is significantly greater than the output of individuals, and the output of diverse teams is significantly greater than non-diverse teams. Therefore, it is possible for each member of the team to feel that they have contributed a more-than-average share because their output is increased by participation in the team.

Regular communication and praise help reduce the natural anxiety that comes with being part of a team. Acknowledging each team member for their role in the project’s success is an important aspect of your role as facilitator. The collective sense of accomplishment is a powerful feeling, and needs be nurtured!

If you want to explore this topic further and learn the other ways DBA managers can achieve global success, download the whitepaper. If you’d like assistance building a globally diverse IT department where everyone performs at their best, let Datavail help. With nearly 500 database administrators and 300-plus clients worldwide, Datavail is the largest database service provider in North America.

With 24×7 managed database services, including database design, architecture and staffing, Datavail can support your organization, regardless of the challenges you may have. Contact Datavail today to learn more about our remote database services and how our experts can help with your ongoing operations.

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