Andrius Židonis leads Zyro’s Builder Team.
The Builder Team built Zyro from the ground up and is responsible for making all of Zyro’s new features. Andrius is responsible for ensuring that this crucial team runs smoothly.
We spoke to him about finding his way as a team lead, what he looks for in a new candidate, and how Zyro’s feedback culture has changed the way he views work.
Can you describe your role at Zyro?
The official description is that I’m the Builder Team team lead.
It’s hard to describe my role. I have a team of 8 people now, next week I’ll have one more team member, and another joining soon, so my current biggest task is to form a team and make a strategy for how to scale.
In basic terms, our team is the product team; we create and build new features for our Zyro website builder (hence the name Builder Team).
As a team lead, I mostly have 1on1s with my team and make sure that we hire valuable people. I develop other people to be more professional and be the best developers they can be.
What are the characteristics you look for in someone you want to hire?
It’s best to hire people who are hungry for new challenges, humble and thoughtful about their impact, and smart. So hungry, humble, smart.
I look for exceptional people, extraordinary people, people who are not following the mainstream, and people who inspire others to do things they might otherwise not be doing.
Could you describe your latest project and its challenges?
I manage all Builder projects.
One that’s a little more technical is mappers, with which in JSON format, we’ll structurize our clients’ websites, allowing us to write mapper functions that upgrade your old Zyro website to a new one that supports more features.
When we’re changing something on an existing site, say we’re upgrading navigation to have a multiple level drop-down, we need to map through old sites and update their structure so they’re compatible with the new builder version, and clients can add that new navigation feature.
How might you solve a challenge facing your team?
Honestly, I wouldn’t say we necessarily struggle with challenges. We try to just solve everything like it’s simple. We try not to overcomplicate things; we like to keep Zyro simple so it’s simple to maintain.
Maybe one example is that we started to go in a bad direction when we nested the JSON object structure too deep. Deep structure means that you have an object inside another object, then another object inside that in a very structural format, but over the long-term that was too complicated.
So what we did was flatten out the structure of JSON, so it would be easier to manage and update. The main challenge is to think of a structure that is easy to maintain and scale. Our solution was to make it very flat.
We don’t do that very strictly so that everything is flat, but we definitely stick to the principle that flatter is better.
How do you feel about Zyro’s values in action?
I actually love Zyro’s values. It’s great to work for a company where their values align perfectly with my own, like ownership, learn and be curious, and bias towards action.
We live by them and give feedback by them. If something is wrong we have radical candor with each other, tied to the Zyro value of courage and candidness, and we can speak about it and solve problems.
If someone on my team says they don’t have a problem, that becomes a problem.
We’re always challenging each other and trying to grow and grow each other to help grow each other. The values are a helpful guide for structured growth.
What’s your experience of learning and development at Zyro?
I think the biggest thing is the constant feedback flow. In general, compared to other companies, I feel I get the most feedback I’ve ever received before. The amount and quality of feedback is very high. Still, internally, we sometimes wish that we could give even more feedback.
We’re constantly improving each other by saying what was good, what was bad, and what could be improved without personal emotions attached, it’s all about growing.
I started to read books more because everyone around me reads books. We talk about what we’ve read and teach each other what we know, that’s the benefit of surrounding yourself with smart people.
People at Zyro are very inspiring. They’re from very different backgrounds, but that diversity brings great results. We combine our different viewpoints into one big brain engine, and this brings us very good results.
What’s your proudest Zyro success story?
I think the whole product is one big success story, because in one year we built the whole Zyro website builder product.
Each OKR (‘Objective Key Results’ we run each quarter), we introduce more features, and I’m not sure which I’m most proud of. I’m proud of all of them. Galleries, custom style editor, navigation editor, and slideshows are our newest features.
When we’re planning an OKR we build a website, and when it’s time to present, we show that website as a slide. If we’re missing some feature, like I want to add a video, duplicate an image, or send an object to front or back, we implement it in the next OKR.
What was it like onboarding at Zyro?
It was a very easy process.
What resonated with my personality was that I was given a Trello board checklist for things to complete during my onboarding, and I got the satisfaction of ticking items off as I registered for Slack, set up my email, did all the security checks, downloaded all the software I needed.
After that onboarding, I felt I had a lot of freedom to choose and implement any tools I wanted, and was comfortable making suggestions to the team if I thought something could be done better.
That feeling of freedom was really impactful. My previous experience when everything was decided by the client; if you propose something, you have to fight for it very hard.
Here you can suggest, try something out, and if it brings results you can measure, then you can decide to implement it. You can change direction really fast.
What was it like moving to remote work?
I’m one of the people who joined pre-Covid, and I’m very grateful I was able to meet everyone before we went to remote working.
I think the best thing we did while working remotely was inviting everyone for 1on1s to walk and talk. We sit at computers all day because of work and we don’t get to go out much because of Covid. So when it comes to 1on1s, I invite everyone to go out while we talk.
I’d like to continue this, even if we go to work in an office.
I’m really waiting for Covid to be over so we can do a bigger team builder event. Maybe a trip to some mountains or renting a house in the woods for a week or two.
How has Zyro changed your career outlook?
I was never a team lead before I worked at Zyro, and I actually wasn’t hired as a team lead but started to take on those duties at Zyro.
I got the opportunity to see how this role works. It’s very interesting; sometimes it’s a struggle, but I think the biggest benefit for me personally is learning how to lead.
In this role I also started to understand how networking works, and I started to read a lot more books than I did before.
I also improved in working with people; talking with them, developing them, trying to solve their problems, helping them cope with emotional struggles, and how to inspire others. How to solve and mitigate problems like others, rather like debugging.
Mostly I talk with people, and mostly people want to talk with me, which means I must be doing something good.