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Talent Lab: Episode 2.1

No matter what your job title might be in the IT world – CEO, Team Lead, HR Executive, Staffing Manager etc. – we all wonder about the same core challenges in our industry: What makes a good IT Specialist and what makes them excel in a given project? Regardless of whether we’re talking about a software architect, frontend developer or UX/UI designer, what exactly makes them succeed and how can we measure that success?

I know what you’re thinking, the obvious answer is a proper technology stack and a sufficient level of expertise. And you’re right for the most part, but are these the only factors that come into play? Whether we like it or not, the demands of the day-to-day work in the IT industry go far beyond simply writing code. The reality is far more complex and nuanced. 

Wondering which factors might be involved in contributing to successful IT projects provoked long hours of discussions and laid the foundation for our work in Talent Alpha’s Talent Science department. To tackle this enormous challenge we employed all the best practices that the scientific method has to offer. Based on review of academic papers and “IT environment” research we decided to conduct our own study to approach this problem from three perspectives simultaneously – the Specialist, the Project and their matching score – and implement the novel process of mobile measurement. And thus Talent Alpha’s TalentLab Pilot Study was born and our Talent Science and Platform teams set out to create an innovative Android and iOS App that would be the conduit for our study.

After months of preparations, application development and waiting with baited breath to see if the App would be accepted, we were finally ready. The big day arrived and our Pilot officially launched in the beginning of February 2020. The numbers were impressive. Our invitation to join the study received great interest among Talent Alpha’s Polish Partners and their IT teams. Together with a group of almost 300 IT professionals from over 30 Software Houses we started a new chapter in Talent Alpha’s history!

The TalentLab Mobile App was the heart of our study, where our core measurement tools, games and surveys were available for IT Specialists to access in real time. Here is a short breakdown of the contents of the App:

  • Dot Memory Game – a gamified cognitive test measuring visual-spatial working memory and perceptual speed.
  • Working Memory – an active, temporary system with very limited capacity that allows you to process stored information
  • Perceptual Speed – the ability to accurately (and completely) compare stimuli – letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns
  • Creative Behaviours Questionnaire – a tool measuring creative and thinking styles of individuals.
  • 360 Performance Measurements – self-assessment, team member assessment and leader assessment questionnaires to minimize the level of eventual bias.
  • Satisfaction Questionnaire – a short tool for measuring various aspects of employee satisfaction.

The TalentLab App became the first point of contact with our platform for IT Specialists and allowed them to view their data-rich profiles for the first time! 

Outside of the mobile app study participants were asked to fill out the following web-based surveys:

  • Project Characteristics Survey – (e.g. work methodology, client industry and time zone) as your work environment has underestimated influence on your overall satisfaction and performance.
  • Business-focused Inventory of Personality (BIP) – a scientifically-developed test that assesses vital and job-relevant personality character traits (e.g. achievement motivation, conscientiousness, and assertiveness). 
  • External working memory tests used to verify psychometric properties of the dot memory game.

Conducting our pilot study was a fascinating and intense journey to say the least. Stay tuned for our next blog post Talent Lab 2.2 where we’ll take a deep dive into the results of our Talent Science TalentLab Mobile App study. Thanks!

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