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Taking a team’s pulse – iCon’s mood-metre

We value feedback and personal development here at innogy Consulting. But beyond this, it is team culture that is the core of our corporate philosophy. One tool that helps our teams work better together is known as a pulse check – a kind of mood-metre for project teams. The aim of pulse checks is to improve the way project teams work together. They involve exchanging best practices more effectively, improving work-life balance and focusing even more on joint personal development.

As part of a pulse check, a project team might answer questions such as:

  • Are we generating great added value for the customer?
  • Do I understand my responsibilities?
  • Am I happy with the ongoing development of my skills and education?

The first time I personally experienced a pulse check was in an ongoing project. At the time, there were about five of us consultants on the project, and I discovered pulse checks were invaluable in helping us to improve the working atmosphere. In my experience, there are three principle advantages of pulse checks:

  • They improve the team’s performance and cohesion
  • They highlight the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and initiate an automatic improvement cycle
  • They continually encourage the team to reflect on its performance, on itself and on the company

Not long ago I was given the opportunity to lead my own project for the first time. It made me realise I wanted to find out more about the techniques and tools used in performing pulse checks. That’s why I met up with my colleague, Lars Holzberg, one of our consultants who manages the pulse check programme, to discuss the project and its background.

Janina Köhler: Lars, what are pulse checks and why are they so important for iCon?

Lars Holzberg: A pulse check is a tool we have developed ourselves to asses a project’s atmosphere both overall and within the project team. The tool is employed by project managers. It automatically sends weekly invitations to project members to complete an anonymous questionnaire on the working methods of the project, the ethos of the team and the overall atmosphere. This allows the project manager to track the general status of the project on a weekly basis and set up meetings to discuss any challenges or open issues. On top of that, it enables other team members to track the overall morale of the team over time and determine whether their feedback is having a positive effect. Crucially, all team members can read each other’s comments. We at innogy Consulting set great store on feedback like this; a good team atmosphere is something we strive for, and we encourage team members to address issues openly.

Janina Köhler: Lars, what are pulse checks and why are they so important for iCon?Janina: What are the benefits of performing a pulse check?

Lars Holzberg: Pulse checks provide project managers with a framework for evaluating the success of individual project teams. They also aid in discussing potential obstacles and problems openly within the project team, as such issues are easier to bring up in an anonymous tool than in a larger group. For example, team members find it easier to discuss problems if, after feedback from team members is collected and compared, several consultants have identified the same problem. They realise that other members of the team may be experiencing the same problems or feelings.

Janina Köhler: Do all teams use the tool or do you have specific recommendations on how to use it?

Lars Holzberg: The questionnaires are voluntary, but that hasn’t prevented the tool from proving its worth in our work so far. It has already been implemented in numerous projects. We particularly recommend using it in teams with at least three consultants. If it is employed, a pulse check should be conducted every two weeks at a minimum in order to improve our open and uninterrupted feedback cycle.

Janina Köhler: How has your experience been with the tool?

Lars Holzberg: I myself used it in one particular project where we had a pretty big set-up. I found it very useful in this case, as those on different tiers within the team – from project managers to consultants – were experiencing the project in vastly different ways. The tool was really handy as it gave us the opportunity to openly discuss the issues that arose.

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An article by

Janina Köhler Project Lead
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