IVAN SHERBANOV: FINDING THE RIGHT TYPE OF EMPOWERMENT


The General Manager of Manpower Bulgaria on bringing innovative solutions to the market

Ivan Sherbanov Manpower.jpg

For both employers and talents, the challenges of the current labor market are many and often – completely new, born by our unique historical situation. Manpower Bulgaria is an HR consultancy that has proven through the years as a smart, adaptable and value-driven partner capable of introducing the right companies to the right people for the available positions. How is this possible? Manpower Bulgaria's General Manager

Ivan Sherbanov knows the answer. He has been with the company since 2008 and through the years he steadily climbed up the organizational ladder, acquiring vital experience and knowledge in the process.

Back in 2008, what attracted you to Manpower Bulgaria and what was the most valuable thing you learned during your career development?

I was attracted by the spirit of innovation and a people-centric approach that was unlike anything previously seen in the market. Today too, this is a quality in our company that keeps me excited and inspired to continue developing our business approach.

Speaking about people-centric focus, one of the most valuable insights I've gained is that empowerment can be a potent tool for creating superstars. However, if not implemented correctly, it can also stifle initiative. This delicate balance is crucial in harnessing the full potential of a team.

The years and various roles at the company have also taught me the importance of adaptability. In today's fast-paced world, where emerging technologies can transform entire business sectors within months, flexibility in achieving goals is more crucial than ever. At Manpower, we have always embraced our role as pathfinders, bringing innovative solutions to the market and serving as reliable partners, even in challenging market conditions. How we upheld these standards in 2010, 2018, and now in 2024, has varied significantly – from services, delivery processes, and consultancy methodology to technological solutions. And that is the adaptability I mean.

What development goals did you set for the company and its teams and how did you implement them?

In the HR consultancy sector, our focus is sharply defined by our "3 Cs" – our Clients, Candidates, and Colleagues. That is why my primary development objective is to achieve high levels of satisfaction across these three groups. This isn't a static goal, but a dynamic initiative aimed at continually enhancing both our external and internal services. We view everyone involved in our projects as a crucial stakeholder deserving of special attention.

Such a mindset of continuous improvement needs also moving beyond traditional structures and methods. That is why, over the past six months, we have been proactively working with our leadership team to embrace the concept of autonomous teams, a shift designed to foster more responsive and innovative operational dynamics.

What does the tailor-made philosophy you follow when working on each project look like in practice?

The labor market has presented significant challenges in recent years, driven by shifting candidate expectations and a chronic talent shortage across various industries. Many companies have experienced delays in their business plans due to staffing shortages. However, the one-size-fits-all approach is no longer effective. Posting a job advertisement on a job portal and expecting a flood of applications is unrealistic.

Our tailor-made approach is built on this understanding – the human capital needs of our partners are diverse. For each project, we delve deeper and analyze various aspects. What kind of people are needed? We consider generational profiling and determine where potential candidates can be found and attracted. Our support and consultancy extend to helping build attractive and competitive offers.

Given the current level of international mobility among workers and experts, we are committed to paving the way for companies to access a broader pool of potential candidates beyond Bulgaria. However, a tailor-made solution is required here as well. Whether sourcing workforce from Indonesia or Nepal, for example, depends on the specific industry, the language skills of the current workforce, and its cultural diversity.

Bringing international team members on board is just the first step. Integrating them into the company culture and their new country is crucial to help them become valuable additions to the team.

These "out of the box" solutions cannot be delivered without a high level of adaptability and flexibility, given that we have also implemented the 4-days working week in the teams. Here we come back to the autonomous teams concept. Our teams are empowered to make decisions swiftly and responsively, tailoring their strategies to the specific needs of a project or client. This flexibility allows each team to innovate and adapt their recruitment tactics. 

By fostering a decentralized decision-making process, we enable our teams to directly engage with the unique challenges and opportunities presented by different markets and client requirements. Thus, autonomous teams not only enhance our ability to recruit effectively across diverse geographies and industries but also help us create more personalized and effective solutions.

What is the most important thing an employer needs to know and do today to ensure they have the best team possible?

Here we have three key actions: understanding, empowering innovative ideas and investment.

Employers need to stay informed about the changing dynamics of the workforce, including new skills, shifting employee expectations, and emerging industry trends. This understanding helps in shaping a team that is not only competent in their current roles but also adaptable to future changes.

But building the best team requires more than just assembling top talent – it involves nurturing that talent. This can be achieved through continuous learning opportunities, career development programs, and fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture. Additionally, engagement initiatives that recognize and reward employees' efforts play a crucial role in retaining top performers and encouraging their best work.

The first two elements would not make it by themselves, if continuous implementation of new ideas is not in place as company culture.

By focusing on these aspects, employers can create a robust team equipped to meet both current and future challenges effectively.

What qualities should a true HR leader possess?

I'll keep my answer here short: sensitive, analytical, digital, curious on contemporary trends and value-driven. The winning combination in HR is business mind with emotional plasticity.

www.manpower.bg

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