Getting a new boss can be a huge source of stress, and inevitably disrupts employees’ day-to-day lives. In order to establish a positive foundation between recently onboarded managers and their staff, progressive organizations carry out new leader assimilations—a process for eliminating communication barriers and creating a space for team members to express frustrations and fears. Eva Gresham has spearheaded this exercise for a variety of prominent Bay Area firms like Chevron and Pinterest. She designed her own method of leadership assimilation as part of Robinson’s M.S. in Human Resources Management program.
While serving as HR business partner at Blue Shield of California, Gresham intervened on behalf of a manager who had inherited a dysfunctional team. She facilitated what she calls a “Vegas-style discussion”—an opportunity for staff members to discuss their expectations in a psychologically safe atmosphere, without the leader present. In a separate meeting, Gresham and the manager agreed on concrete actions to support the team’s needs.
“Leadership assimilation can empower people and encourage retention,” Gresham said. “I consistently pull it from my toolbox.”
Right after Gresham finished her master’s in 2014, she entered Chevron’s Human Resources Development Program, which comprises four six-month-long assignments throughout the HR function. Because she had taken Robinson’s elective course on strategic compensation, Gresham especially thrived in the executive compensation analysis rotation. She was the first person in the program’s 30-year history to tackle a rotation in that industry sector.
Chevron is a large corporation with nearly 50,000 employees, but Gresham has scaled her approach to smaller firms as well. Blue Shield of California consists of just under 7,000 people. As part of her current gig as people experience partner lead at Pinterest, Gresham supports a staff of approximately 1,600.
“Successfully navigating different types of organizations speaks to my flexibility and adaptability,” Gresham said. “I’ve worked for some pretty choice employers, and I’m proud of that.”