Have you thought much about R-E-S-P-E-C-T

In 1967 Aretha Franklin released her most famous single, Respect. This recording became her signature song. When I hear her or another artist?s rendition of this song, I think of Aretha. The song has transcended generations, and she has definitely taken ownership of the word R-E-S-P-E-C-T in our culture.

Respect in the data profession is often elusive. Respect from development team members is hard to earn when you are seen as an outsider or barrier. Respect from fellow data team members comes from not understanding your role and deliverables. Finally, respect from management can be a make it or break it proposition for you and your data team at your workplace.

This past week I read an excellent article on Information Management on How To Win Executive R-E-S-P-E-C-T for Data Modeling by Jason Tiret. He did an excellent job of summarizing the importance of understanding what motivates upper management so that you can demonstrate the importance and criticality of data modeling to the enterprise. I invite you to read his article after you finish reading my blog post. He hit on some good points that included finding executive hot buttons, making data modeling the next shiny object, the power of fear, a matter of simple math and defining the value of business definitions

I won?t rehash Jason?s article in this post, but I believe strongly that he hits on the main points. I?ve spoken many times in this blog about the need for data professionals to market themselves to assure success in their careers and their work within their businesses. Gaining respect is an important piece of that marketing puzzle. Today I am going to talk about respect within teams.

I am sure you are familiar with the saying, ?Walk a mile in someone else?s shoes?. This is a key exercise for each of us to undertake as the first step in gaining respect from team members in application development efforts. We spend considerable time architecting our processes and deliverables. Data professionals often overlook the importance of understanding developer, end user, and testing resources processes and deliverables. Once we understand our peers? needs, we can target our work efforts to integrate with their efforts. Respect quickly follows as they understand you are invested in their success.

On the surface, the data community likes to promote the seamless delivery of models, databases, metadata and such from the data team. Most often under the surface, there are a series of data development efforts that may severely overlap or fall short of delivering expected deliverables that other data team members need. I liken this to a poorly synchronized relay team that fumbles with the hand-offs. Let?s face it. It?s difficult to respect a team member who delivers something that is incomplete or infringes on your work without following your standards.

The first place to start on improving data team dynamics is to communicate more and communicate clearly. I once worked in an IT shop where we were fumbling quite a bit within our group. We implemented a data team hand off process. This process was based on emails that spelled out exactly what was delivered to a team member. The email went out to all team members in the workflow. It was a simplistic approach to workflow management but worked well. Over time data modelers and DBAs spelled out more detailed specs on what they delivered and when they delivered it. Processes improved. Standards improved. Respect followed.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is definitely something that we have to earn. How you earn that respect may change depending on your situation, your workplace or personalities of coworkers. I spelled out what I feel are good places to start working on respect. Investing time in growing relationships and expressing concern for others is a foundational activity that must happen for that respect seed to grow. Interpersonal communications and shared ownership build the framework that defines the terms on which trust and respect are formed. Take a few minutes today to think about how you can use these techniques in promoting an atmosphere of respect within your workgroup and across other workgroups.

Aretha may be the first person we think of when we think of respect. I hope that you see respect when you interact with fellow team members. Respect will be evident in their faces and their actions. R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Tom Bilcze
Modeling Global User Community President

 I’ve reached 3NF in “Why Be Normal?” How normalized are you?

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