Why values matter when it comes to achieving OKRS

The role of values in achieving OKRS

When strategic objectives were met but your company’s value system was compromised, the likely consequences are short-term gains. Yet severe long-term complications are likely to follow.

Let’s say for argument’s sake that a company’s sales team achieves a very high amount of sales and revenue. At the same time they have compromised their integrity as a result of an attitude of ‘winning at all cost’. They may initially be praised and even rewarded. Ultimately as their unethical behavior comes to light both individual and company reputations are tarnished. Financial losses often follow reputational damage.


The following example highlights the importance to integrate OKRS with all the strategic objectives of the company as well as the individual KPIs of all team members. If, for example, one company’s value is Integrity all actions should be ‘filtered’ through this value and should be the litmus test of all behaviors.

Jack Ma once fired one of his top salespeople in public for displaying a consistent lack of integrity. Values should indeed be non-negotiable from the onset of their inception.

Here follows highly critical factors when it comes to company value systems:

  • They should be co-created by all relevant stakeholders for it to be truly respected
  • The company value system should form an integral part of the onboarding, training, and development, and reward systems of the company.
  • The values of the company must flow through all forms of communication for it to be fully integrated in a sustainable way, into the company culture.
  • The best approach to embedding values into a company culture is a pragmatic approach. Values should be clearly defined and distilled into practical actions within each role.
  • Values should even form part of job descriptions and should also be contained in employment contracts.

When values are merely handed down by company management it becomes very hard for team members to take ownership of values as they were not consulted in the matter, yet they tend to be judged by these very same values.

Team members only naturally tend to take a value system seriously when they were involved in the creation of them, when they are constantly reminded of the company values in a positive way, and when they realize that they are non-negotiable standards of behavior.

A pragmatic yet relatively unique way of looking at a value system is to label it as behavioral standards that all stakeholders are held accountable to. These behavioral standards should be aligned with the company’s vision, goals, and objectives. That simply means that these behaviors, when consistently applied should lead to a positive end result.

The Application of value systems

Values should form a part of peer evaluations, feedback loops, meetings, and reward systems. Values, to a degree, can act as a bridge between setting goals and attaining them –

Let’s say ‘continuous learning’ is a company value. When all team members fully buy into this value, continuously refine their technical and non-technical skills and even learn and adapt from failures, they have taken clear and positive steps towards meeting the company objectives.

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute