How is it to be a team leader in Avito?

    On the eve of the Saint TeamLead Conf conference, Anatoly Panov, head of the development of new projects in Avito, shared his thoughts on what qualities a good team leader should have and what are the features of this position in Avito.

    - Tell us in a few words about yourself and your work. What role do you face with timlidov?

    Earlier in the company Lazada, I was engaged in platform development - low-level services used by developers, but end users do not see. But at the moment all my work relates to product development. In Avito, I hold the position of head of development for verticals - in other words, the manager of managers.

    The development department in Avito is a cluster that includes several independent teams solving their tasks. Each such team has its own team leader. And I'm the one who leads them.

    For the last six months I have been actively engaged in hiring tmlids. We have a new team that needed a tmlid. And in one of the old teams there was historically no technical manager, and in fact he was needed, while no one approached this position from within.

    - What is the role played by tmlidy in Avito product development?

    We in Avito have moved to a vertical structure, agile / scrum are strongly developed here. All the teams we have - we call them units - are cross-functional, and, accordingly, the team leaders who play the role of technical managers, are a little different.

    In units where 30 people work, the team leader in direct submission does not have the whole team. Inside, he organizes individual structural units, for example, scrum teams, without a direct manager, and acts as a scrum master or assigns another specialist to this position. If the team is small - 5-10 people - this is a team leader in the usual sense.

    With this in mind, Avito and timlid requirements are slightly different. In other companies, a team leader often has a former senior developer with cool technical skills. But we have more requirements for managerial skills, because we need to organize the development, understand how the scrum / agile processes work, and adjust them.

    - That is, in the Avito structure, the timlid is more a leadership position than an engineering one?

    Rather, it is a leading engineering. Timlid is precisely the technical manager. He must, from a technical point of view, understand what is happening in the teams. In addition to the team leader, each unit also has a product manager - essentially a product owner, in terms of scrum. The product owner is responsible for filling backlog, prioritizing tasks, achieving business goals, etc. And the task of the technical manager is to ensure fast and high-quality execution of the tasks set. He is responsible for the processes in the team, for the people themselves, for the quality of the technical solutions that they implement.

    - And in your opinion, is the balance of the leading and engineering part in the work of the Timlide in Avito optimal?

    Good question. It seems to me, 50 to 50 - I do not see serious distortions. No, for example, such that the guys who occupy these positions, never touched the technology. Still, a team leader is a technical manager. He is actively involved in making technical decisions, and if I, as a superior, have any questions, the timlid has to justify why they are doing something that way. They can write code if they have a desire and remain for this time, but this is not their responsibility.

    - Are there any particular features of a tmlid position in your company, besides the managerial emphasis mentioned?

    In Avito, the team leader has a lot of freedom of action. In his unit, he can independently set up processes, build them in Jira as he likes. It is clear that we have a framework that standardizes the development as a whole, but it can reorganize the individual stages of deployment or testing in its own way. To him there is one main requirement: that in the end was a quality product. And how to achieve this, he chooses himself.

    In other companies, it looks a bit different. Of course, there may be different options, but often all the processes are simply standardized by someone from above, usually the head of the development department, and the team leaders are never engaged in this. All teams work the same way. We, for example, can not use the framework if you think you can do better. That is, we are expected that the team leader will use his freedom to improve the processes in the team.

    What qualities should a perfect timlid have?

    For me, in the team leader, first of all, managerial qualities are important - not even from the point of view of project management, but from the point of view of people management. A person must understand that people are not machines, that they have their own desires and needs, that they need to be controlled.

    Managing people is a separate discipline in which there is a lot of different literature. It needs to learn. If there is no understanding of this fact, then it is very hard to work. I do not take such people. A lot of candidates have been eliminated by this principle.

    Judging by what I saw at the interviews, this is the biggest problem area. Usually, technical skills are more or less well-developed by everyone, they also understand something about project management: there is a basic idea that you can't shove everything into a sprint. But the understanding that we need to consciously develop the management of people, usually very few people in my head.

    - Can not become the best runner and experienced developer - middle?

    I think yes. But here is a fine line - in different companies, the concepts of senior and middle developer are very different from each other. In Avito, there are strong middle developers who in other companies could easily qualify for the senior position. Therefore, in relation to Avito, I can easily imagine the situation that the middle immediately becomes the team leader.

    - And if this is not the most experienced developer, even within the team (that is, inside there are specialists of higher qualification)?

    I think, too, yes. But it is very difficult to speak in the abstract, because everything depends on the skills of this person, how balanced everything is with him. If there is enough knowledge, there is a desire and the team is ready to accept it as its leader, that is, there is trust in him, then everything will work out.

    In addition to management skills, what is missing for those who claim to be a team leader?

    Perhaps the second most common is technical skills, but not in the sense that a person does not know how to write code, but rather the lack of a vision of the whole picture.

    This is especially noticeable in large companies. People do not know how the product they are working on is generally functioning. A person makes some kind of his own small service, and how this service is built into the whole structure, he represents quite weakly. This is bad, because if something breaks somewhere, the team is no longer aware of how the system works and where its service is located. In my opinion, he cannot make it with sufficient quality, because he does not understand what is outside, he does not know what the needs of the users of his service are. It may well be that the applied solution is not optimal, because the usage patterns are completely different.

    - Is Timlid the natural and inevitable path of the developer?

    Natural, but not inevitable. Someone this work is suitable, like, some do not. This is just another job. I have many examples when people tried themselves in this position, but refused. They decided that they want to program because they like to write code, but they don’t manage processes and people. And in the future were just great developers. This is normal.

    - In your opinion, what will be interesting on Saint TeamLead Conf for the team leader? Why go there?

    It seems to me that there are very few conferences about technical management in Russia. There are many programming, development and administration activities, and they are taking place not only in Moscow, but also in the regions - in Ulyanovsk, Novosibirsk, etc. There are separate conferences about project management (project managers), but I haven’t seen anything more about technical management of teams.

    Separate sections for timblids for the last two years were held at RHS ++, and to me personally they were very interesting. Now, of course, I am curious to attend a separate event dedicated to this topic.

    A lot will be said about how to turn from a developer to a tmlid. Therefore, it seems to me that this is a great place to expand your knowledge, learn something new for yourself and see what problems the Timblides have.

    - Is it worth coming to those who are not a team leader or not at all related to IT? For example, representatives of HR?

    I watched the conference program - there not only about how to manage, but also about the life course of the Timlind, about what problems I had to face on this path, what are the requirements for the Timid, what are the expectations in the market. In particular, this will be in my report . Based on my experience, I will talk in detail about how to pick up team leaders.

    - The report will be more focused on personnel officers?

    I think it will be useful either to the Timlids, or to those who are looking for them. Perhaps, just HR. I will talk about what to ask at the interview and how it looks in our company.

    Friends, a little less than a week is left before our St. Petersburg conference Saint TeamLead Conf . It will be two full days, during which three dozen reports will be heard on two parallel streams. Detailed schedule can be found here .

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