Pulse Barometers - Challis International

Pulse Barometers

Surfacing, Managing and Improving Critical Organisational Intangibles

Astute Managers have long recognised the importance of a wide range of intangible factors on business performance eg : workplace climate, employee engagement and customer satisfaction. Whether employed as Line Managers, Project Managers, Human Resource Managers, Change Agents or Information Technology Managers, these managers are all faced with similar challenges. To address them, they undertake a range of actions to affect improvement in critical organisational areas but often lack :

  • effective mechanisms to engage sponsors, leaders and the workforce,
  • effective approaches to maintain energy/focus and promote dialogue at all levels,
  • critical information with which to make key decisions,
  • understanding of what people (stakeholders, customers, employees etc) are really thinking/feeling,
  • understanding of areas working well and areas requiring support,
  • information with which to measure and demonstrate activity value and effectiveness.

They therefore frequently resort to costly and time consuming surveying and/or worst still, ‘management by gut feel’. PULSE BAROMETERS are a quick, easy and very cost-effective approach for measuring, monitoring and feeding back performance on critical business intangibles.  

Pulse Barometers Are Not Surveys

Implemented and used effectively, PULSE BAROMETERS are not SURVEYS or simple sensing instruments but powerful change interventions. In particular, PULSE BAROMETERS differ from surveys in the following characteristics :

  • a dialogical tool to stimulate enquiry and engagement rather than an expert tool to capture information, analyse results and provide answers
  • non standard format....lines of enquiry, questions, look and feel etc are fully customised to the organisation's requirements  
  • minimal administration effort...typically takes 2 to 5 minutes to complete
  • barometer designing and positioning process ensures that unrealistic expectations aren't created
  • designed to capture information around pulse points that have high impact/high energy for change 
  • typically administered 3 - 4 times per annum. Creates a dynamic footprint that enables issues, actions, outcomes and their interrelationships to be trended   
  • provides instantaneous feedback...information is a true barometer of what is happening at that point in time 
  • pulse barometer outputs relate to an individual's sphere of responsibility and influence ...'your information to help you manage your area'    
  • pulse barometer outputs are integrated hierarchically to align effort and maximise organisational impacts
  • pulse barometer outputs can be 'locked ' so that an individual can view only their information or 'unlocked' so that any individual can view any other individual's information stimulating comparison and enquiry   
  • pulse barometer outputs can be configured in formats that enable quick comparison to peer results, functional results, total organisational results etc


The following examples illustrate some of the typical issues that arise with surveys which can be addressed by the application of Pulse Barometers.

Scenario 1 : Climate surveying

Analysis Outcomes :

Scenario 2 : Project Surveying

Analysis Outcomes

Summary of Key Features…

  • A powerful tool to generate energy and facilitate dialogue – flags issues and starts conversations to explore changes, impacts and opportunities,
  • May be fully customised (language/terminology, question set focus, proforma and report formats and apprearance, security etc) to meet organisational specific requirements    
  • Results presented in dashboard format (eg traffic light) to readily identify key areas for improvement with drill down functionality to explore and issues and trends,
  • Questions focus on organisation-relevant factors creating strong face validity with respondents and users; that is, question set is customised to user requirements and situation,
  • Minimal respondent effort with no ‘behind the scenes’ administration effort,
  • Simple and user friendly questions and data format; immediate feedback,
  • User engagement in Barometer design and positioning process creates user ownership,   
  • Information ‘owned’ by Line Managers/Workgroup promoting localised accountability to act,
  • Web browser based ensuring that there is only ‘one version of the truth’,
  • Simple graphs used to promote intuitive understanding,
  • Outputs may be exported to excel, access or SQL for user convenience/customisation 
  • May include security provisions to restrict access,
  • Can be used in conjunction with more detailed analytical tools and diagnostics administered over longer timeframes to help unpack and address issues 

How It Works…

  • An email and hyperlink to the PULSE BAROMETER website is sent to the target individuals.
  • On entering the web-site, people are presented with a range of questions, on which they register their feedback; this typically takes a few minutes,
  • There is a specified window, usually a number of days, when the PULSE BAROMETER is open for people to complete,
  • When the window closes, results are automatically calculated,
  • Information is available, ten minutes later, on a web site accessible to approved persons.

To protect anonymity, The PULSE BAROMETER will not produce or display results for groups where less than a specified number of people have responded. The system has also been designed without using “cookies” or any other intrusive technology used to track an individual’s responses. PULSE BAROMETERS have been designed to :

  • gather accurate data by creating an environment where participants feel secure and free to respond to the questionnaire in confidence, thereby ensuring honest, useful data is captured
  • work effectively for organisations as small as ten people, yet have the capacity to comfortably accommodate the largest global corporation.

Product Families

Seven PULSE BAROMETER products are available,

The Alliance Pulse Barometer (APB) that is used for alliance sensing and improvement at all levels.

The Climate Pulse Barometer (CPB) that is used for culture and climate sensing and improvement.

The Leadership Pulse Barometer (LPB) that is used to support leaders evolve style, influence and overall interpersonal effectiveness.

The Network Pulse Barometer (NPB) that is used to help manage networks, organisational functions and groups, communities of practice etc.

The Project Pulse Barometer (PPB) that is used for project management, outcomes sensing/anchoring and continuous improvement.

The Relationship Pulse Barometer (RPB) that is used for sensing and developing relationships between teams and workgroups.

The Stakeholder Pulse Barometer (SPB) that is used for Stakeholder (and Customer) relationship sensing, alignment and commitment building.