take (someone's or something's) pulse
1. Literally, to measure the heart rate of a person or animal in order to determine if they are alive or in good health. The doctor tried to take the poor man's pulse but declared him dead on the spot. She's taking the dog's pulse to see if he needs to go to the vet.
2. By extension, to gauge, measure, or get a sense of how well someone or something is performing, thriving, managing, coping, etc. We try to take our employees' pulse at the start of every year to see gauge the level of their morale. The analysis promises to take the economy's pulse and give clear predictions of the market's ability to grow over the next few years.
take someone's pulse
to measure the frequency of the beats of a person's pulse. I can take my own pulse. The nurse took my pulse and said I was fine.