The original article is available in Bulgarian at: www.karieri.bg
Next Consult is an international business and digital transformation consultancy. They are а reseller of Salesforce, official partner of the Lean methodology 20 Keys and SAP ERP. The company has implemented over 350 projects in 170 companies from various industries. In Bulgaria, Next Consult employs over 60 people.
Orlin Dochev has significant consulting experience in developing business and marketing strategies, implementation of business systems such as ERP / CRM / BI and others. In 2010 he founded the company "Next Consult", with the aim to help their clients in the field of sales, marketing, finance, production and more. Prior to that, he successively led business tool teams at the local Oracle office and later at Microsoft. He has a master's degree in computer science from the Technical University of Sofia and a master's degree in business administration from the University of National and World Economy - Sofia.
Borislav Uzunov is the People and Culture Manager at Next Consult. He has been working for the company for 6 years, and his previous role as a business consultant he was working on project for development of remuneration systems, motivation, and development of people. He has worked on projects related to the implementation of lean practices, which aim to improve quality without increasing costs. Uzunov holds a bachelor's degree in Hungarian philology from Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", a master's degree in International Relations from the same university. He has also attended the Busines Management Master’s program at Vrije University in Brussels.
We need someone like Borislav Uzunov, our new People and Culture manager, who will have a constant focus on the employee experience. We deliberately chose someone who comes from within the company for this position, instead of an external expert. He has been with us for 6 years and knows the company, the values, and the people very well.
Precisely because of the growth of the company. Every year we’ve been growing with 20-30-40%. The “pandemic 2020” was the most successful year we’ve had since the establishment of Next Consult. On top of this at this point of 2021, we are doing much better than the same period last year, so we expect this year to be even better. We are a consultancy and that’s why we need people who can advise our clients in the best way possible. Our employees need to be well trained to be able to identify and solve the problems of our clients. This is key because the big companies we work with know how to manage their processes, and we need to find additional ways to help them.
The most important thing for our company is to hire people who are talented and have the right attitude towards the work, to be able to think logically. Even if they have no experience in an IT company, they can learn, but there is no way to learn to have the right attitude towards work and people, to be "cool" and to understand business processes.
“It is very important, “when you throw someone in the water”, to help them to start swimming quickly and not to let them sink.”
Even before, our people were relatively free to work from where they wanted, because the most important thing is to deliver value to the client. The only downside of the remote work is that it is very difficult to keep up the team spirit. At the moment, we are trying to restore the relationships between people, but not by making them come back to the office. Today, for example, we invited them to join us from the office or on-line to cook pasta with Leo Bianchi - it remains to be seen how many people will come. When people work remotely, we can stress on the importance to finish the task outstanding, but you cannot force the people to keep the synergies between each other.
“We are all "over achievers". We constantly want to achieve something. What kills us happens when we have nothing to achieve. If you go and work one job for just one big salary, without the urge to achieve more, it will “kill” you.”
We empower our people to make decisions and set goals, so he will tell you more about them. Uzunov is a very experienced senior consultant and knows how to identify areas that need improvement.
“People don’t pitch themselves to the companies anymore, but the other way around.”
We need to constantly evolve as a product to be bought by the most talented people in Bulgaria. All benefits such as office massage, ping pong, etc. are meaningless. What people want mostly is to work on interesting projects and to earn good money. If you need the other things, you can buy them yourself. The HR function is for the companies that have problems. Uzunov is not an HR. We need someone to guide the people and the culture to the next level.
“The way you sell yourself to your clients it they you should also do it to your people.”
To further develop our loyal employees and to stimulate the loyalty further. We do not have bosses, we are a family - this is the basis of our values, and this is the loyalty that keeps people in the company. For us the attention and focus on their development has always been important. My task now is to interact with the people and to help them get better and better, so that at every touch point, they remain with a good feeling. I'm talking about the process of recruiting, through induction and so on. We are looking at the things they need to feel good with us. This even applies to the outgoing processes. When someone has to leave, we want to make sure the process is such, that they will want to return.
“We want to be such a company that one should be crazy to leave.”
The reality is that since the crisis, we not only didn’t lose people, but everyone has stayed and kept developing. The new culture in the company developed precisely because of this situation and we became very close. But the challenge is to keep the feeling of belonging in the people, because many colleagues chose to work remotely permanently. At home, the empathy with the company is lost, so I set a personal goal - to be close to the people, because I know everyone. I want to be their sparring partner and when they have concerns and ideas, I want them to have someone to share them with.
The Lean practices are in our DNA. We have long partnered with one of the main lean methodologies 20 Keys. The people are at the heart of Lean. Every person in the company must participate in its’ continuous improvement. The first 3 "keys" are the main ones, and they are focused on the people. The most important is: How to involve the people in the problem-solving processes. Whenever there is a problem in a company, the people who are at the operational level are the ones who work with those problems. They are aware of the details, and they are the ones who can give a quick solution to the problem. An additional benefit is that when a solution comes from the people themselves, they accept it very quickly and it is very easy to implement. This is the philosophy of lean. Conversely, if there are high-level managers who see a problem, get angry and make decisions at their discretion, it will often not work, and even if they do, they are not well received by the people.
The main tool I can think of is my position. Until recently, I was part of these people, and I can clearly recognize where their problems might be. I am talking to each person in the company. The goal is to get a feel of what the culture is like at the moment, what is the mood of the people, and to highlight any concerns they might have. My goal is for the people to understand that there is a person in the company who is clearly recognized as part of them and not as part of the partners. I want them to know that I am always ready to talk. Actually, I'm a little surprised that it already works and even people started calling me not only when they have concerns, but also when they have ideas that they want to share. Others call me about career advice. Every year we have an annual review, as a result of which each person must decide where they want to develop. If someone feels that they have reached the limit of the position they are in, they can give a signal and together we can come up with a way forward, based on their strengths and the available positions. This is where I am strong in my role - I can give them advice because I have been through instances like this. I know the partners very well and I know how to help the people if they want to change direction.
We do have managers. We have these positions because they evoke pride in the people. But when it comes to the development of the people, we are not talking so much about them but about mentors and mentoring. Everyone has a mentor by their side. The role of the mentor is to navigate the daily work. What we emphasize is the constant feedback type coaching - i.e. To focus on how to make things better, and not on why they didn't happen as they should have. I have not noticed a lack of communication skills among our executives. But even if we need to emphasize their skills, we can use additional tools such as the online training tool Skillsoft, of which we are the official representative for Bulgaria.
Borislav Uzunov: I want to see everyone engaged with the company, and to involve the people who work from home, to know how they feel and to show them that the work in the office is pleasant, so that they can start coming from time to time, even just for a glass of wine or just to see each other.
Orlin Dochev: I want when someone asks our employee: What’s it like to work there? Them to reply: It's great! No comments.” Because this is the invisible magic, not just the salary. Salaries are already at the same levels everywhere. ou cannot give much higher salaries than the market ceiling in Bulgaria. This magic will happen through Borislav.