Are your database administrators leaving? You’ve probably seen it happen before. You bring someone on board, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to do the job. They stick around for a little while, then right when you’ve trained them and gotten them to the point where they can contribute, they walk out the door.

It’s a waste of time and money, a drain on your organization, and a total disruption to the databases your business needs to truly thrive. If you’ve been dealing with this problem, you’re well aware something has to be done.

Database administrators are the unsung heroes of your organization, managing data from multiple databases and keeping it safe, collated, and easily accessible. Here’s how you can keep them happy and productive so you can stop losing your best people.

1. Give them the authority they need

Putting your DBA in the position of administrator without giving them the authority to do their job will hamstring you before you even start.

Some databases may be department-specific, but often they need to be accessed across multiple different departments. Your database administrator needs the power to say “no.” Without that, they’re a firefighter, not an administrator.

They need to be able to implement data standards and give teeth to their enforcement. They need to be able to control access to resources so unauthorized or under-qualified users can’t wreak havoc. And they also need to be able to pursue or veto new projects across departmental lines.

If you don’t give them the authority, they won’t be able to do the job that you hired them for. Don’t stop them before they start.

2. Don’t give them too many hats

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make is lumping their database administrators in with IT, then giving them general IT tasks to do that pull them away from their primary job.

It would be like hiring a roofer to redo the roof of your house, then asking them halfway through to take a look at the weird noise coming from your air conditioner. Sure, you might be lucky enough to get a contractor who knows enough about air conditioning to give you a general idea. But just because it’s in the same house doesn’t mean it takes the same skillset, and your roof’s going to take longer to get done (and so will your air conditioner).

Why would you take a DBA and ask them to do help desk work? Or bring them on only to monitor databases instead of letting them make improvements? Sadly, too many organizations insist on their specialized employees wearing too many hats. Don’t be one of them.

3. Prioritize building systems, not fixing problems

A good DBA is an architect and a technician, both maintaining databases that already exist and coming up with ways to do things better. In the day-to-day work, they’ll find ways to prune out databases and processes that are obsolete or useless. They’ll create relationships and pathways that will streamline your business. And they’ll make everything run more efficiently.

But that’s only if you give them the chance.

Many organizations concentrate on firefighting first instead of trying to figure out where the fires come from. Give your DBAs time to learn and stay on top of their profession. Give them the time and resources they need to create processes that stop fires before they start. No one wants to spend their workday in a perpetual state of half panic. Let them get ahead of the problems instead of working behind.

4. Appreciate them before things are on fire

Most employees in the IT sector have this problem—it’s not unique to the DBA. During day-to-day operations when everything runs smoothly, no one thinks about them. But when something breaks, all of a sudden they become the pressure point.

If 80% of the interactions you got from the people higher up in the organization were related to problems, what kind of life would that be? Make sure you involve them in the day-to-day. Convey your appreciation and take the time to listen when they ask for help.

Skilled DBAs are tough to come by, and they’re worth hanging on to when they come around. If your DBA is bogged down in mundane work and firefighting and can’t do the things that really matter in their job, they’re probably going to leave. Take some of that work off their plate and empower them to do the work that really matters—the work they probably enjoy more.

Outsourcing some of the mundane day-to-day monitoring and grunt work can help your DBA have a better experience. If you think this is something that can help your organization, check with us at 405-285-2500 or at We’ll help you keep your DBA happy—and a happy DBA is one who’s likely to stick around.

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