Modern IT Public Relations
Differing corporate cultures can have dramatically different expectations as to how they perceive a highly effective Oracle DBA. In most Fortune 200 companies, DOD and DOE environments excelling at all things Oracle is how you are measured. In some cultures however, you could be the world's best Oracle DBA! Dramatically improving their ROI with your skills and still be perceived as "average" (just meeting expectations). How can such a misalignment occur? Not only does this page deal most distinctly with such environments but also all environments that can have skewed perceptions.
Obviously you want to ensure your reputation aligns with (or even surpasses) your technical skills. To do this it is vital to routinely communicate your willingness to help. For your efforts to be effective you need to systematically ping each department in the warmest and most cordial way. This must be done in person.
The old phrase to keep at the forefront of these efforts is: People dont care how much you know. They only know how much you care.
In this endeavor do not to use any terms that alienate people, i.e. techno-babble. For example, in speaking with a non-technical client dont use a phrase like: "There is an issue with a java class method passing an array to the instantiator." Even if it is true. Make it warmer and high level such as: "I'd be glad to assist application development to fix this important issue for you.". Also it must be done as an art. Informally. Water cooler talk that touches on the customers areas of concern kind-of-style. Making this effort will help eliminate perceptual errors that you are not helpful.
Think of it like a glass of water with a little bit of dirt at the bottom. If you continually pour clean clear water into the glass the dirt will be eventually washed away. You need to do that with your career so that:
- Perceptions about you align with the facts, i.e. you are a fantastic and helpful Oracle DBA!
- You are immune to negative comments about you because there are overwhelming data-points to the contrary.
You might also think this is what meetings are for and\or this is your manager's job. Maybe true but your reputation is YOUR job! Interestingly, if you do nothing perceptions of you tend to gravitate to the negative pole. What does that guy do back there anyway?
Routine Scheduled Visits
Each day make a PR visit to a different department in a systematic and informal way.
1. Application Support 2. Project Managers 3. Data Analysts\Coordinators 4. Customer Service ...
Start your PR visit with a non-Oracle related topic of the clients's interest (weather, sports, movies, hobbies) then ask a high level question to draw out any area that they feel needs attention or is being neglected.
Ping 1 = High Level:
- Is everything going OK for you?
- Is there anything you need help with?
Ping 2 = Focused:
- Do you think at this point the ABC issue is fixed for you?
- Does the new XYZ report contains everything you need?
If departmental (multiple people) ensure everyone is pinged at least at the highest level. The goal is not really to go into grand detail at this juncture. The objective here is for them to feel that you care. A great technique to ensure this and not get buried in an avalanche of new work is to do this just minutes before the client is due in a meeting. A daily all hands meeting for example.
You dont want to project the opposite. That all you do is BS. So keep your visits brief. They start informal and end clearly with you discussing their concerns.
Upon accumulation of any user feedback send an email to your direct supervisor and cc the person(s) that made the request so they:
- Know they have been listened to.
- It has been documented as such.
If you are dumped on with overwhelming work requests during this process the email to your supervisor puts the burden on him\her to change your workload to accommodate the requests leaving you perceived as nothing less than willing to help!
Keep a formal log of this informal process. This becomes invaluable whenever someone tries to make a comment about you not being helpful and the like. Thats odd, I was with Ken and the team in Marketing last Wednesday discussing this. I followed up by sending an email that both detailed the issue and what we were doing to address it. I wonder if there was an email outage. Can I re-send you the email sent to everyone in Marketing?
Date Department Comments -------- -------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 02/27/14 Marketing Ken needs a new XYZ report that has col1 and col3. He will be creating a case for this.
It is also very useful to accumulate an array of responses that show how thoroughly helpful you are. To do this send out stand-alone follow up emails upon task completion that confirms your degree of concern. Having this level of positive feedback can be presented if questions are ever raised on your quality and commitment in helping customers.
Another PR Changing Example (where appropriate):
Authors Note: What makes such a corny statement potent is that I actually feel this way!
You will know perceptions have changed when you hear people telling you things like you are the one person that always listens to my concerns and helps me. THAT IS THE GOAL. Mission accomplished to get perceptions changed!
Having an effective PR campaign ensures your hard won technical skills are matched to your perceived reputation. If this is neglected erroneous statements will be made to key people which can put a black mark on your career. This is a life-long practice. Once implemented you must always work to keep your reputation immune to false accusations. The good news is that once you have changed any deep rooted false perceptions it is easy to maintain your reputation. The end result of the PR efforts outlined here are that nearly everyone in your business unit will be an ambassador in communicating your great reputation!