Q

Performance goals for DBAs

Do you have any suggestions on how to measure DBA job performance and provide meaningful goals for performance management of DBAs?

Michael,
I manage a team of DBAs and I've been challenged with putting together meaningful performance goals during our review periods for my team. Either the goals seem too specific and don't capture enough of the job scope or they are higher-level goals which are unmeasurable. Do you have any suggestions on how to measure DBA job performance and provide meaningful goals for performance management of DBAs?

Brett,

When it comes to performance evaluations, it is absolutely critical to have meaningful, measurable goals. But first and foremost, you must define what "performance" means. Namely, being busy does not necessarily equate to good performance, but producing results in an effective and efficient manner does. So the real question becomes, what results do you want to see?

It seems logical then that the first step in defining a PMS (performance management system) is to define what is important to your team's (and company's) success. Does your team support mission-critical databases? If so, then set team goals for database availability, number of outages, mean time between failures, performance benchmarks, etc. For each of these team goals, you can provide the results and cite specific examples where the individual contributed positively to obtaining them. At the individual level, do they service customers and end users directly? Do you track this data in a case management or trouble ticket system? If so, then measure the number of requests or issues they successfully closed, how many were done on time, etc. You can also use customer satisfaction surveys to ensure that service is being done the way you want it to be done.

Personally, I have found the following criteria to be my key factors for meaningful performance management:

  1. Well-defined and -documented job descriptions (to set expectations).
  2. Explicitly defined, measurable goals for both team and individual.
  3. Get employees engaged in the process by letting them help define and approve what the goals are.
  4. Meaningful measurements that support the goals.
  5. 360-degree feedback (from self, from peers, from customers, from manager).

Always remember to keep the reviews objective (factual) versus subjective, using measurements and specific examples as evidence, not personal opinions or judgments.

I hope this information gets you started in the right direction. Obviously I have only scratched the surface on good PM strategies and measurements. There are a lot of great resources and packages out there that might also help get you started -- just Google "performance management." Find a system that follows the criteria above, addresses your specific needs and provides a good base for what you want to accomplish.

This was first published in July 2007

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