Root Cause Reviews | Glassdoor

Root Cause Reviews

Updated March 22, 2017
16 reviews

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2.9
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Andrew Wolk
11 Ratings

16 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Research and Assessments Co-op"

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

    Pros

    Driven and hardworking team, good benefits (fully stocked fridge)

    Cons

    somewhat unfriendly work culture - people don't take lunch breaks and often work early/late


  2. "co-op"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Root Cause part-time

    Pros

    mission is good. heart in right place

    Cons

    execution is deplorable. no real leadership


  3. Helpful (3)

    "Once a great place to learn and meet peers, now a crumbling organization with an identity crisis and poor leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Root Cause full-time

    Pros

    I learned a lot about project management, managing up, internal operations/team management, consulting services, scope writing, and the social sector in Boston. I now have many skills that positioned me competitively when I was looking for new opportunities. I had a fabulous manager who truly cared about my personal growth (who has since left) and amazing peers who were able to critically think about the social sector, issues of equity and privilege, etc. Unfortunately, many of these peers have since left and I cannot vouch for many pros at the current organization.

    Lastly, since Root Cause is a fairly smaller organization, I got to interact with all levels of the staff and learn about things outside of my role.

    Cons

    If you are considering working here I strongly encourage you to prepare STRONG interview questions and do your homework/research on what has happened with the organization. Highlights you should know about below:

    Organization went through significant change starting last fall, which stemmed from a decision the CEO made alone and that reflected he does not truly understand the organization he is running, or that he is managing people's lives by being the leader of an organization. Many of the bright, talented, determined staff have since left.

    The organization is not sure what its mission is, and is tempted to "blow with the winds" and follow the latest "trend" in the social sector, e.g. pursuing a focus on empowering organizations with data and evidence. While an occasional mission clarification is healthy for an organization, working somewhere that does not have a strong value proposition and changes at a whim is nerve-wracking.

    Select senior staff (namely the ones who have been there since the beginning and know they are not in danger of ramifications) do not know how to manage well and are not interested in learning. Feedback from junior staff on how difficult it is to work with these senior members of the team fall on deaf ears. It is not encouraging/supportive (frankly, it is sometimes embarrassing) to work for people who do not care about your development, from whom you cannot learn, and who are not willing to think critically about the sector and your work with you.

    HR, promotions, salary, and professional development are not strong. Even if you think you don't care as much about those aspects of an organization as the actual work and content you'll be involved in (as young professionals can sometimes think), please consider carefully. Without a supportive team you can trust, a healthy feedback loop, and being valued and given credit for your work, you will not enjoy going to work every day.

    Advice to Management

    You attract highly qualified, brilliant critical thinkers in your junior staff. When you expect them to be mindless employees ready to do whatever you want next, you are insulting their intelligence and their commitment to making the world a better place. There are deep wounds that need to continue to be addressed and healed, and you need to think seriously about your willingness to change your ways. Leaders who at the least do not even understand their own privilege have no business operating in the social sector and advising others what to do.


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  5. Helpful (2)

    "Interesting work but terrible leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Advisory Services Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Former Employee - Advisory Services Employee in Cambridge, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Root Cause full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Amazing, smart junior staff; great clients on the whole doing really interesting mission-driven work in the social sector; fairly flat organization; junior staff get a lot of exposure to doing high level work (vs. large consulting firms where you may be a data monkey with no/little client exposure)

    Cons

    Terrible management and leadership; founder is the root of the toxic culture that starts from the leadership and trickles down; low morale amongst junior staff who don't feel appreciated and feel underpaid; major operational and management challenges (ironic for a strategy management consulting firm)

    Advice to Management

    Pay and appreciate your junior staff more; get clearer on your strategy and vision; get rid of the founder


  6. Helpful (2)

    "Hard Truths but What You Need To Know"

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

    I worked at Root Cause full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great opportunity to meet fellow "Junior" colleagues who are passionate, intelligent, and supportive. They have made working here extremely worthwhile. There is also the opportunity to work with really amazing clients who are doing important work on a range of social issues.

    The training received here is also really great. You learn skills quite quickly and in detail that are transferable to other careers you might pursue.

    Cons

    HR & Advancement- There is none, which has made any process for advancement, compensation, and conflict resolution extraordinarily ambiguous, convoluted, and disastrous. The process for advancement has just become some kind of institutionalized with little formalization and follow-through because there is not dedicated HR personnel. It has been an area that has been severely underinvested in and has contributed to high levels of frustration amongst staff, and especially junior staff.
    Salary- Most starting salaries here are low, especially for those in non-senior management positions. Almost insulting low given not only the level and type of work you are expected to perform, but also given the geographic location in which you are required to live. Most competitor organizations pay at a higher rate than RC does. Additionally, the only real way, you get any type of financial advancement here is by advocating and fighting on your own behalf, and I mean fight. Even if you have been working there in the same position, salary range for years, your work will be acknowledged but your salary will not reflect that acknowledgement unless you relentlessly fight for it and wade through the multitude of inexcusable refusals. This has led to many staff members feeling underpaid and overworked, further leading to resentment against the company for not financially recognizing staff contributions and work quality.
    Senior Management- The CEO has a bit of a Napoleon complex, where everything and everyone must be loyal to him and trust wholly in him regardless of whether or not he is deserving of that loyalty or praise or if any of his decisions make sense. I think this might be beginning to change as over the years staff members have been relentless at pushing him to change for the better of the organization. But his temper, speaking tone, interaction, and personality can be quite disruptive and stressful for anyone working here. There is also a COO, whose role is massively unclear in the broader decision making process but executes a number of the operational and infrastructure actions on behalf of the CEO. The COO also dually functions as some sort of HR person but does not perform the tasks of that job effectively, at all. How decisions are made remains unclear, as even those in the most senior of positions are not plugged in or are plugged in to late to important decisions.
    Feedback- The feedback loop and "system" (to the extent there is one) is very vertical and paternalistic, with little opportunity to give real feedback to your supervisors or senior management directly. This creates an environment in which the entire senior level team appears untouchable and unapproachable for change. Some senior staff just do not know how to manage, and because senior management does not either, it feels like there is little interest in improving in this area.
    Diversity/Inclusion- There really isn't any at the senior leadership level. Junior staff did a significant amount of work to bring these issues to the forefront with significant pushback in the beginning and over time some level of engagement, but it never really got embedded into the culture of the organization despite the "work" that is done. I felt bad for the junior staff that did so much (all of who were of color) to push this forward and wasn't fully invested in to be successful.
    The Work- It feels like the company goes through an identity crisis every year. The projects taken on often seem sporadic and misaligned with the overly idealistic mission of the organization. There is an aura of having more impact than the company can/or ever will have on anyone. Most attempts to put the company on a more realistic and meaningful path has been undervalued.

    Advice to Management

    Revisit the Exit Interviews. None of the aforementioned issues with the organization or issues mentioned by other reviewers are new, they have all been communicated formally/informally at some point to upper management and it is their responsibility to actively address them to ensure that future staff members do not have to go through the same experiences and to ensure the sustainability of the organization moving forward.

    Senior Management needs to go through intensive training (including the CEO) on how to manage and run an effective organization. There should be significant consideration given to massive reorganization of the company.


  7. "This Is What's Wrong with the Social Sector"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Analyst in Boston, MA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Root Cause full-time

    Pros

    I decided to work at Root Cause because I was excited by the opportunity to work on a bunch of different issue areas, and improve overall capacity in the social sector (where I've spent my whole career). For the first year or so, I did feel like I was achieving that: I was working on really interesting, varied projects and I felt that our clients would be stronger after our engagements with them ended. Most of the people I worked with were passionate and smart, and also just fun to hang out with. I learned a LOT from my peers and the director of consulting.

    Cons

    My experience at RC started to go downhill when I began interacting more with senior staff. The CEO tends to value loyalty more than competency: there are 1 or 2 senior consultants there with a long tenure, and tend to coast on that without doing any substantive work, to the point where a client event complained about it to me. Furthermore, despite former and current staff consistently providing feedback about this and other issues, the COO has continued to rubber stamp a lot of the CEO's poor decisions around talent management- for example, hiring someone and then rescinding the offer right before she was supposed to start without even informing the director of consulting who hired her. The director has since left, and as one of the only high performing and positive senior staff members both the culture and the business are suffering as a result. In the past year, about 8 junior staff members (out of 12!) have left because of feeling like they are not appreciated or compensated appropriately, which is particularly galling given the free rein many senior staff seem to have.

    Advice to Management

    What else is there to say at this point? I think there is a pathological inability for leadership to take responsibility for the impact of their actions and accept that they have created a pretty toxic work environment that hurts the contributions to the sector that they could be making. The CEO is also the founder, and I think is unwilling to admit that. There needs to be a complete leadership overhaul, and the board needs to step up, or this organization should close.


  8. Helpful (2)

    "Attracts great junior staff but in significant decline under poor leadership"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    I worked at Root Cause full-time

    Pros

    Root Cause's work attracts motivated, smart junior staff who care deeply about social justice and social impact. The interview process is rigorous and ensures that junior staff are thoughtful problem-solvers and team players, who are committed to helping clients achieve their goals. Junior staff are collegial and supportive with each other, often forming close relationships that endure beyond their time at Root Cause. Junior staff have a great deal of autonomy and learning a great deal in a short amount of time about project management, strategy, impact measurement, and about the nonprofit sector as a whole.

    Cons

    The organization has long been stagnant and is currently in significant decline. Under the leadership of the CEO, COO, and senior consultants (most of whom have been with Root Cause since its founding), the organization has shrunk significantly with many staff departures between 2015 and 2017 and has never had the discipline to fully clarify and execute on a strategic plan and mission. Leadership is not held accountable for poor decisions. Of note is a recent incident in 2016 involving the CEO's solo decision to rescind an offer to a candidate the week of her start date after she had planned her relocation for months - an incident that not only damaged the organization's reputation but also sparked a wave of resignations. Root Cause does not have the right leadership and senior consultants in place to do justice to this sector and there is no mechanism to ensure that it gets better.

    Advice to Management

    The board needs to be more than a rubber stamp for the CEO. Pay and recognize staff based on the value they provide rather than their tenure and perceived loyalty to the CEO. Consider replacing the founder/CEO.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "poor culture, environment and leadership; good work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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

    I worked at Root Cause full-time

    Pros

    - Peers: I loved my peers at Root Cause - they were (all of left!) the most dedicated, committed, smart, passionate group of people. They were the only reason why I was able to stay at Root Cause for as long as I did.
    - Client: we did some great work with some great clients, especially in youth development and education and criminal justice.
    - Training: despite all the cons, you do get good training for consulting.

    Cons

    - Toxic work culture that mentally drains you.
    - Lack of functional leadership team that permeates every facet of the organization.
    - If you are a junior staff, you do all the work; the senior staff does no work. This makes the work-life balance totally off and you are constantly working, and that is the expectation.

    Advice to Management

    - Care about and listen to your junior staff (proof is that 20+ have left in the last 18 months)
    - Build a real board that holds the CEO/Founder accountable
    - Build a proper HR/talent management system
    - Ensure your COO is in the office to really understand the culture and staff, it is not a job that can be done remotely.


  10. "Consulting"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Senior Consultant/Team Leader in Arlington, MA
    Former Employee - Senior Consultant/Team Leader in Arlington, MA

    I worked at Root Cause full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Great people and strong sense of mission

    Cons

    Can be a grind.


  11. Helpful (2)

    "Doing really interesting work, but taking advantage of their employees/interns"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very strong and young workforce, although many people are very serious there are some people who make it a lot of fun, and there is unlimited food supplied in the kitchen.

    Cons

    Take advantage of their fellows/interns/volunteers. Some are offered way more benefits than others working on the same level (eg: some people got MBTA passes, some didn't). Also very high turnover of employees and interns so it is hard for some aspects of the business to grow.

    Advice to Management

    Even interns need to be paid more than $250 a month and there should be consistency throughout that program.



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