The only answer CEO will accept from a new or long-time employee is a ‘Hell, yes’

As a professional and now as a CEO, Adam Dorfman dislikes the term “Employee Retention.” He says it feels like you’re trying to hold someone back, when his mission is to find people who are wildly enthusiastic about their work and his business.

Dorfman is the founder of DMC Atlanta, a X-based firm that specializes in direct marketing and sales, face-to-face sales and marketing as well as new customer acquisitions for companies in the cable and satellite, retail and telecommunications industries.

Dorfman started the company in 2003 with eight people, and it has grown to more than 60 offices. Part of the reason Dorfman feels it has expanded so rapidly is his approach to both hiring – having a quality business depends on bringing in team members of varying backgrounds, resources and skills – as well as the incentives he offers.

And it all starts with a “Hell, yes!”

Answer with enthusiasm
What does that mean? That every question at the company should be answered with that much enthusiasm and commitment, Dorfman said.

“If it’s not a ‘Hell, yes,’ then it’s a no,” Dorfman said. “That starts with the hiring process. When we are interviewing someone, it has to be a ‘Hell, yes.’ And that goes both ways. If you only want to give us a try as an employee, then we’ll take a pass. We want people who are excited to work here every day and we want to be excited about them working here every day.”

His radical approach makes sense when you think about the importance of retaining employees and why they leave. In fact, research from Kronos and Future Workplace found that 87 percent of HR leaders cite improved retention as a “critical” or high priority for their organizations over the next five years.

That approach also goes for how the company incentivizes and inspires its workforce. For example, DMC Atlanta has the philosophy of 100% internal, merit-based, organic promotion and growth, which guarantees team members career opportunities and the growth potential to realize their goals, regardless of previous experience or personal background.

Time to go to work
Dorfman comes by his “Hell, yes” ideas naturally. He was born and raised in Atlanta and comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. He watched his father and stepmother build a company (APCO) from the ground up, and his childhood was filled with stories from his grandfathers about the ups and downs of building a company.

After stints in music and teaching, Dorfman decided it was time to go to work. As Dorman tells the story, he was a terrible employee. Entrepreneurship was in his blood. After a few years of teaching and restaurant work, Dorfman moved to Atlanta in April 2002, took his first direct sales position in June, and, at the age of 25, opened DMC Atlanta in July 2003.

“We built DMC Atlanta with the idea that anyone with the right work ethic, heart and passion for success has an opportunity to own a piece of the company,” Dorfman said.

That also means creating programs that address every aspect of employee growth and personal development.

“The programs that we have in place are centered around how do we make sure everybody is prospering in terms of mental, emotional development, professional development and personal health,” Dorfman said.

If people are going to the gym on a regular basis and can provide proof, DMC Atlanta helps pay for their gym membership. If they want to become a volunteer in the community, they are supported 100% and they can get the rest of the company involved in their passion projects. Whatever it is, Dorfman said the business goes all in.

“Part of what makes people want to be part of this team is our door is open,” Dorfman said. “People are allowed to not know the answers to things. We find out together. That helps us all just keep getting better. … I tell every person we hire that we’ll work with you and meet you halfway. It makes a big difference for people knowing we will be behind them completely.”

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Karen Dybis
Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen was a Detroit News business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project. She is author of four Michigan history books, including "Secret Detroit" and "The Witch of Delray."