Check-In Tool: 3 Shapes of State - for better cooperation

Kristina Püschel
January 28, 2024

There are different types of check-ins. For some, it is the start of a workshop or a long meeting, for others it is the weekly exchange about the OKRs. In the spirit of New Work, check-ins are often simply short, 10-30 minute, daily team meetings.

Daily check-ins

Starting the day together every day gives teams a sense of unity. Whether on-site or hybrid, a brief exchange in the morning is a good ritual. Team members also get an overview of each other's tasks and challenges.

However, it can get boring in the long run to ask every morning what tasks each person is tackling that day. In addition, this question leaves the person themselves out of the equation. As is so often the case, the focus is then on the tasks and not on the person.

Check-in structure with the focus on individuals

At soft.fact, we use our morning check-ins, which we call Hālāwai (Hawaiian for meeting), to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our needs.

How do we do this? We focus on the person themselves and always start with a round of questions about the 3 Shapes of States - as we have named them. The aim is to find out how the person feels on a physical, emotional and mental level.

1. shape of state: Physical level

"How are you feeling physically today?". This first question is about finding out how the person is feeling on a physical level. The person does a little self-reflection and feels into their body. We have formulated various physical stages to help us, but we often also use our own descriptions of our condition.

The physical stage includes body sensations such as "warm" and "weak", energy levels such as "tired", "energized", basic needs such as "hungry" and muscle sensations such as "flexible".

2. shape of state: Emotional state

The person then focuses on their feelings and describes their emotional state. We have adapted Dr. Robert Plutchik's "Wheel of emotions" for this purpose. It contains a number of emotions:

Emotions tend to be short-lived and are a reaction to something that has changed. They are also referred to as multi-component reaction tendencies. They include not only a subjective feeling, but also thoughts, facial expressions, as well as cardiovascular and hormonal changes.

Emotions can be pleasant/positive, but also unpleasant or negative. We often don't take the time to grasp and name our emotions, let alone accept them.

By dealing with our emotional level every morning, we also learn more about ourselves and our feelings. In addition, all team members gain a better understanding of each individual person.

3. shape of state: Mental state

The last stage in this series is the mental stage. This level includes all internal, cognitive processes. We have also created a graphic with potential mental states for this.

By describing our mental state, we try to understand what is going on in our head at the moment and how we feel about it. Are our thoughts clear and structured? Or are they chaotic? Are we emotional or rather indifferent?

3 Shapes of State - Your new method for check-in

Based on these three status descriptions, the individual team members draw a uniform picture of themselves. Each person knows which version of person X they are acting with today.

With the help of the three questions, you become aware of what is currently bothering you and can ask for emotional support if necessary.

The 3 Shapes of State are therefore a great tool for gaining a better understanding of yourself and all team members, building trust, but also for strengthening team cohesion and focusing on the individual.

We can only recommend that you try out this tool at your next check-in. Have fun with it!

Kristina Püschel
December 19, 2023