KaBOOM! Reviews

Updated July 6, 2015
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Darell Hammond
31 Ratings

42 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (10)

    Jump on the bus with the golden children, or see your way out!

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at KaBOOM! full-time

    Pros

    Well-educated and diverse employees, many folks who have great ideas and visions for their work. Decent benefits offered. Casual environment. Monthly opportunities during work (lunches, birthday celebrations, etc.)

    Cons

    While making every attempt to be a positive, upbeat, "playful", and inspiring organization, KaBOOM! is certainly missing the mark when it comes to morale internally. From underpaid individuals at the entry and mid-level, the senior staff are getting paid far more than is deserved. The CEO, who happens to be married to the CMO/COO are pulling in a pretty penny. Have you checked out the 990 form on the website? Perhaps they should consider spreading that wealth out a bit, because the majority of their staff is getting paid less than market rate. KaBOOM! employed a 14 week "manager boot camp", which wasted valuable time and money keeping all managers in a meeting for 2 hours per week in order to increase their management skills. Many of them may not have been paying attention, as nothing seems to have changed. Perhaps they should have considered hiring an external consultant to facilitate the management training, so that all managers could have a fresh perspective, instead of recycling the stale management practices that continue to be put into place. Speaking of recycling, a national non-profit organization that serves the community should be recycling in their office, right? Not this place! The amount of materials that are being thrown away on a daily basis, instead of being recycled is outrageous. They also throw away pounds and pounds of food out of the refrigerator each week! Many items that are unopened. Yet, they are attempting to serve the 16 million children living in poverty? Something is not adding up here. There are people in the organization who quickly move through the ranks, getting boosted to positions that they cannot handle; these are the same people who other staff refers to as the "favorites" or the "golden children" of KaBOOM! senior staff. If you share a concern about this, or speaking up about anything, attempting to fix or find solutions, will only get you into hot water. The "open office" style seating concept they have could be great, if the organization were truly collaborative. Many folks sit around and waste company time, interrupt others while working and even those who are verbally aggressive toward or around others. All of which goes unaddressed by management. With a high turnover rate, people seem to be fleeing KaBOOM! in droves. Perhaps KaBOOM! is not in fact as playful as perceived?

    Advice to Management

    Take a good look around! People are not happy! Instead of forcing "play time", get down to the real issue. Re-evaluate your managers, your overall work style, and come up with a solid action plan. People are leaving because of the work environment, and because of some of your managers. With employees feeling like their manager lacks common sense and awareness, and overall misunderstanding of how to treat those that work with them--it needs to change. Utilize your employees more There are people sitting there, asking for more--more work, more responsibility. Instead of constantly spotlighting the golden children, give everyone the same chance. While you can always spend time hiring new people because you are driving your employees out, why not try to promote within? Evaluate and restructure the system, because you are losing institutional knowledge left and right.


  2. Helpful (4)

    Trust the ones you're with

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at KaBOOM! full-time

    Pros

    Critically important mission; Results oriented culture; under promise, over deliver; Smart, high-spirited Boomers who support each other, collaborate and have fun! You learn so much working here!

    Cons

    New strategy adoption has been hard, requiring new skills, new ways of working. All seeking clarity and buy-in for new initiatives, which is taking more time than upper management thought it would. Culture does not support learning/failure as much as it could during a period of change.

    Advice to Management

    Recognize small wins which build confidence, continue positive inspiration with the vision of where we'e going but please trust us to do our jobs.


  3. Helpful (5)

    Where to start?

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at KaBOOM! (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great benefits, really smart, genuine people, salary growth is great if you are at the Senior Manager level or above. There are a few amazing senior leaders/managers who've great to learn from. There are some people who are doing really amazing work that the organization is really excited about, but the trust given to those people is not extended across the full staff. Name is well known and we'll respected. Mission is a great space of need with great potential for innovation.

    Cons

    I agree with many of the others - serious case of founder's disease compounded with micro management of the senior team and frenzied or non existent management for those on the Outreach and Grants team makes for an extremely stressful work environment where people are largely unhappy. The management and communication of the strategy is poor - why hire so many smart, talented people if you can't trust them to execute and contribute? The implementation of the strategy is misguided and elitist, which can make it hard to connect with the work, let alone to convince others. There is no clear tactical direction with some of the directors having zero expertise in the field and no clue of how to execute, let alone manage others to do so. The ever increasing focus upon staffing and resources on social media and digital engagement as a means of achieving impact is ridiculous, as well as demoralizing for people who want to work at a non-profit, not a media agency. I will say some of the issues of KaBOOM! Have to do with unrealistic expectations and unproductive criticism... The organization does have an abundance of entry level positions - yes, when you are fresh out of college and you work in the nonprofit sector and it's your first job, you will get paid little and work lots. That's how it goes. It gets better, you have to earn your stripes. Don't like it, don't live in city like DC where the cost of living is unmanageable for someone not making a substantial salary. You can live out your DC dreams in a few years after you have some experience under your belt and can demand more money. The organization can sometimes hire for these entry level positions out of a pool of candidates that is overqualified and will naturally get frustrated easily. When there are so many talented, smart type As in one organization, there seems to be this drive for everyone to contribute to everything, while at the same time a sense of competition that causes some to seek individual praise/credit as opposed to collaborating with others to reach the best outcome - so many bottlenecks to delivering on the work. The CEO is definitely brash, and characterizations of him as a bully are not off base, however, in my experience, if you engage with him and debate/rebuttal instead of backing down, you can make traction. All of that being said - the senior team needs to get out of the way and let people co-create the strategy and execute without constant interference. If there are directors/managers who don't deliver despite seniority, let them go to make room for advancement for others, define goals that are realistic and easily communicated.

    Advice to Management

    Stated above, but the senior team must get out of their own way if they expect to ever improve morale. The answer to solving this is not more culture - and the suggesstion alone is patronizing. People want to do great work - let them! Stop working on projects and start executing a strategy if real change is to ever be sustained. Though dominated by women, there is a culture of seemingly sexist and dismissive behavior by some of the males on staff, if this behavior is accepted from the leadership, it is easily perpetuated by others. Seek feedback authentically and incorporate what you hear. Immediately address the culture of fear/lack of freedom to express disagreement and present alternatives.


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  5. Helpful (6)

    Need to Boost Morale among Current Employees

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Hard-working, amazing intelligent, and smart colleagues Fun atmosphere

    Cons

    With the new strategy and focus on playability, many employees feel misguided. Everyone is working hard, but some are feeling as though the work they are doing is not being recognized, which is only going to cause them to leave the organization like so many already have.

    Advice to Management

    Take the time to recognize the great work people are doing. If you don't stop to notice those who are giving so much to hold the organization together in this transition period, then you will lost them too and have to start from scratch with new employees.


  6. Helpful (8)

    Missing the Mark

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at KaBOOM! full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Energetic work environment with a playful twist Intelligent workforce Nice benefits (but low pay)

    Cons

    Lack of interdepartmental synergy in staff Weak management CEO Employees are constantly convinced that they have it good, if not better, than everyone else out there (which is false)

    Advice to Management

    I'll keep it short and sweet for anyone who might be interested in applying to KaBOOM!. The mission of KaBOOM! has changed in the last few years and the organization demands excellence without resources to achieve the mission. This is partially because they do not hire the correct people to 'ride the bus'. towards playability. Management has got to get their act together to save this slowly sinking ship. Revenue has decreased and arms are starting to flail. Client relationship management is rocky due to this mission shift.


  7. kaboom

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    google- like fun company free candies amd food

    Cons

    mostly white people a few asians and minorities

    Advice to Management

    mix it up


  8. Helpful (7)

    This organization is in a death spiral!

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at KaBOOM! full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great people. Great mission.

    Cons

    Management talks a good game, but people are not valued. People are merely a means to an end (unrestricted revenue). The CEO and his wife (the COO) are running this organization as if it was their own business and being handsomely for it (check the form 990 on the website). People are leaving in droves.

    Advice to Management

    Cure the founderitis. The Board of Directors must take action and remove the CEO and/or the COO.


  9. Helpful (11)

    Ongoing poor management practices, Pervasive poor communication

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    A learning experience, making connections for the future.

    Cons

    - Unrealistic Expectations - You're put in a situation that sets you up to fail and burn out. - Immature Leadership - Top level leadership shows a complete unwillingness to listen to others; they are totally disconnected. - Hypocritical - Leadership doesn't walk the talk, say they embrace "teamwork," "good communication," "trust," "transparency," etc but displays behavior that contradicts that. - Scapegoating - Missing benchmarks and goals is explained by blaming others. Employees are belittled; even high performers are criticized for incompetence, and employees who leave are unfairly blamed for failures caused by the dismal and lacking leadership of the executive team. - Any sense of community, cooperation, loyalty, introspection, and spirituality have been eliminated in favor of the myopic and soulless pursuit of bringing in more money, more money, more money, status-seeking and egocentrism.

    Advice to Management

    How you treat people says a lot more about you than your mission statement.


  10. Helpful (11)

    Overworked, underpaid

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    I have never worked with a more talented group of people. Everyone works extremely hard and goes above and beyond of what is required. The organization is working to improve the culture which is good, but that's not the problem. Good health benefits. Everyone feels like your friend.

    Cons

    Staff morale is low and so is the pay. The Staff is also overworked and the organization would rather give you more work than hire. Over the past year or two , 11 people have left ONE team. Yes, one team! Six of those people left without jobs. That should have been a HUGE red flag to the organization and I'm unsure why that isn't a bigger issue, but it shows there's clearly no accountability for department heads, but they can be promoted.

    Advice to Management

    The surveys seem to be helping, but there's still work to do. I look forward to seeing how the organization handles these issues and provide frequent updates in staff meetings.


  11. Helpful (9)

    mid-level employee, direct service

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Great reputation; deliver a quality product; passionate and hard working staff.

    Cons

    Bad management. Disconnect between leadership and staff. Half-baked initiatives.

    Advice to Management

    Value employees more.



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