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The DBA Manager’s Role in Preventing Burnout

Author: Jeff Duncan | | May 8, 2024

As a DBA manager, you have a critical role in both preventing and addressing burnout. Here’s your strategy for handling this complex and all too common situation.

Foster Open Communication

Team meetings and 1-on-1 meetings are both important for fostering open communications with your DBAs.

For team meetings, you’ll want to talk about team updates and projects going on. Then, open up the floor for your team members to talk about issues and challenges they’re facing.

Encourage opportunities for collaboration. Even if you know how to fix the issue they’re having, ask if anyone has thoughts on how to help them. Your senior DBAs will feel valued because they’re sharing their knowledge with junior DBAs, and the juniors will gain valuable learning opportunities.

If you’re leading a remote DBA team, you need to have your camera on, see people, and smile. It helps people feel like they’re actually a team.

You can’t rely only on your team meetings, however. You need to have 1-1 meetings too. If I have a new DBA, I meet with them a few times a week. For my established team members, I meet with them every other week.

You want to try to get them to open up a bit and then talk to them.

You’re not trying to find out every intimate detail about their personal life, but you want them to know that you care about them as a person. Let them know that if they have something going on or need help, to talk to you about it.

Encourage Team Members to Take Time Off

Your DBAs need to take time off that’s not just sick time. Sick time is for getting better so they can get back to the grind. It’s not bouncing back or rebooting your brain. You need to encourage them to truly take time off. They need vacations, extended weekends, and other opportunities to build good memories and rejuvenate.

Ensure Team Members Can Disconnect During PTO

During PTO, you also need to make sure that your team members are actually disconnecting. My personal preference is going on a cruise because it’s almost impossible to work from there.

However, on the flip side of things, tasks are building up while they’re out. It’s important to have the support you need for the team, whether you have a large enough bench to cover for DBAs while they’re gone, or you work with external partners such as managed service providers.

Recognize and Appreciate DBA Contributions

Keep track of all the good things that they do, and kudos from internal and external clients.

If you focus on highlighting the positives during yearly reviews and acknowledging the good work done first, it can make addressing areas for improvement more constructive.

Provide Professional Development Pathways for Technical and Management-track DBAs

You want your team to have goals, dreams, and something they can actually work towards. You do what you can to actually make that better. If they want to make themselves a better technical person, they end up being a solutions architect or similar.

Help them even if it’s outside what your DBA team does. Do what you can to help build them up there.

You make them better than yourself. Someday, you might be working for them. If you treat them well, they’ll treat you well. Get them the technical or management training they need.

Train them to leverage their strengths. For those inclined towards people management, provide challenging projects and leadership opportunities to guide. For those more technically inclined, offer specialized training and mentorship in their field.

Create Opportunities for DBAs to Learn about Emerging Technologies

If I send my team members to an event like PASS Data Community Summit, I encourage them to attend a few sessions they find most valuable and share their learnings with the team. It’s important to download materials, review them thoroughly, and be prepared to present the information to others for collective growth and learning opportunities.

While it may not be feasible to send every database administrator to such events annually, seeking more cost-effective training options is a practical approach. One platform I recommend is A Cloud Guru, which offers comprehensive training on AWS, cloud, or Azure at an affordable monthly rate. This resource allows unlimited access to educational content, aiding in skill development and exam readiness.

For those unable to attend pricier events, consider supporting test fees or reimbursing training expenses within set limits.

Want to learn about the signs and causes of DBA burnout? Get our guide “Preventing and Addressing DBA Burnout.”

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