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A Culture of Trust: How OKRs Enhance the Workplace

Updated: February 25, 2022

According to author Paul J. Zak, employees working in organisations with a well-developed culture of trust are more productive, energetic, and collaborative. Such organisations also tend to have lower attrition rates, reporting 74% less stress than other companies.

When talking about a trust culture, Zak is not just talking about increment wage increases, work benefits, and other methods meant to increase employee satisfaction. Instead, employees are allowed to speak their minds regarding decisions that affect their direction. This makes employees feel that they have a larger stake in the company, making them more passionate about doing their job.

There are many ways to create a culture of trust in the workplace. One such method is to let smaller teams decide their Objectives and Key Results that serve the bigger purpose set by upper management.


How do the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) enhance the workplace?

At the beginning of a new quarter, a new fiscal year, or the start of a new project, it’s essential to set goals for your company. These goals give management the chance to set the overall tone for employees moving forward and can be an opportunity to increase forward momentum.


1. OKRs induce the “good” kind of stress

The real goal of OKRs is to set challenging and ambitious goals with measurable results. These help employees feel the “good” kind of stress—a moderate level of challenge that spurs employees into action. The right type of stress releases neurochemicals such as oxytocin, enhancing focus and building social connections on a neurological level.

OKRs allow for this scenario because the goals are attainable and have a well-defined endpoint. Smaller goals can feel easier to achieve and spur people to action because it provides a sense of achievement.


2. OKRs empower small teams

By letting smaller teams create their OKRs, employees are given a chance to contribute to the company’s betterment using their own strengths. They are not just doing a job; they actively improve the company’s state within their capabilities and job descriptions.

The critical thing to remember is that these OKRs must come from small teams and individual employees, not senior management. If the goals are handed down like some edict with no chance for input or negotiation, you will not give your employees any room to be proactive.

Many senior managers and C-Suite executives feel that going with this approach can result in disorganisation—this cannot be further than the truth. Naturally, upper management will still need to set an overarching role that will give the company a direction to follow. However, giving smaller teams and employees the chance to develop their OKRs in service of the larger goal will allow them to fully exercise their strengths within the context of their job roles.


3. OKRs encourage transparency

Employees know exactly what’s going on, so they understand what they can contribute and aim for. Uncertainty about how the company is doing can lead to distrust and may erode any feeling of loyalty. Setting overarching goals that small teams and employees can then support their OKRs helps establish loyalty as they feel that their contributions matter.



As cliche as it may seem, try thinking of the company as an extension of your immediate family at home. Giving each member a say in crucial decisions may be the slower and slightly chaotic option; however, it provides each person with the chance to suggest possible solutions to a problem that affects them entirely. In the long run, they feel that they matter to the collective and will continue to look after its interests!

SKILLFIRE aims to help you grow your business by empowering you and your management team. Our consulting firm seeks to change management practices by creating high-impact teams and leaders. If you would like to learn more, you can reach out to us and we’ll get back to you soon.