Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRs) are like the powerhouse for OKRs. They provide a context for important discussions around critical team and organizational objectives — they are the why behind the what. They are particularly important because CFRs help get buy-in, assess motivation and ability, and help leaders estimate the psychological needs of their team members as they work together towards their goals.
What are OKRs?
OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results, and usually refers to the business strategy tool/framework that can be used in order to measure and track progress towards specific objectives.
While OKRs have been around for a while, they've recently gained popularity as more and more companies look for ways to measure and track progress in an ever-changing business landscape.
There are a few different ways to set up OKRs, but typically they involve setting a goal or objectives (the "O" in OKR) and then measuring key results (the "KRs") that will show whether or not you're on track to achieving that goal.
For example, let's say your company's goal is to increase sales by 20% this quarter. Some key results that could be tracked in order to measure progress towards this goal might be things like the number of new customers acquired, total sales revenue, or the average order value.
OKRs can be used at both the individual and organizational level - meaning that you can set goals and track progress for yourself as an individual, or for your entire company.
Purpose of OKRs
OKRs can be used for a variety of different purposes, but typically they're used as a way to measure and track progress towards specific objectives.
They can also be used to promote accountability, transparency, and collaboration within an organization. For example, if everyone in the company is aware of the company's OKRs, it's more likely that everyone will be working towards the same objectives and be held accountable for their progress.
OKRs can also help to create a more transparent work environment, as everyone will be able to see what others are working on and how they're tracking against their objectives.
Finally, OKRs can promote collaboration within an organization, as people will be able to work together towards common objectives.
If you're thinking of implementing OKRs in your own business, it's important to take the time to consider what you want to use them for and how they can best fit into your company's overall strategy.
What are CFRs?
Conversations, Feedback and Recognition (CFRs) are a core building block to an effective OKR (Objective and Key Result) solution. CFRs help to seamlessly integrate OKRs into company culture and enable them to realise their full potential.
In Measure What Matters John Doerr defines CFR as follows:
- Conversations: an authentic, richly textured exchange between manager and contributor, aimed at driving performance.
- Feedback: bidirectional or networked communication among peers to evaluate progress and guide future improvement.
- Recognition: expressions of appreciation to deserving individuals for contributions of all sizes.
The occurrence of CFRs must be continuous ie. should be happening throughout the OKR cycle within the space of one-on-one sessions between an employee and their leader. Along with that, they should also occur at the end of an OKR cycle where the conversation should be in person. In the new normal of remote work, this could mean a video call. Conversations should include goal-setting, reflection, and ongoing progress updates. The feedback should be risk-free, specific and constructive.
In order to meet ambitious goals set during the OKR process, it’s likely many employees will need to develop new skills. Conversations, feedback and recognition help them do that. Because of this CFRs add a human element to the OKR system by providing an organized way to motivate individuals and teams. CFRs allow a team to go beyond the question, “Was the goal achieved or not?”. And so Doerr described CFRs as “giving OKRs their human voice.” It emphasizes that achieving success with OKR takes a lot more than simply setting and tracking your Objectives & Key Results.
How are OKRs and CFRs different?
Objectives are what you want your team to accomplish. Key results describe how you will do it. Objectives are significant and action-oriented. Key results are specific and measurable. OKRs can only be graded with “complete” or “incomplete.” CFRs, on the other hand, are the result of public, transparent OKRs and afford a larger vocabulary. You could say that OKRs are what exist in the binary black or white and CFRs would lie in the very insightful grey area.
How OKRs and CFRs work together
We know, when executing the OKR system, the objectives represent the goals of the organization, teams, and individuals and the key results provide the metrics to assess performance.
How CFRs integrate into this is:
Conversations and Feedback of CFRs relate directly to these performance measures. Bi-directional Feedback on progress to identify roadblocks and obstacles are discussed in platforms such as check-ins, conversations, and regularly scheduled team meetings. These feedback and conversations sessions are crucial in establishing a rapport and gaining trust as they serve as a vehicle for coaching and mentoring team members. They encourage and enable recognition of team’s and individual’s performances.
CFRs encourage managers to take on the role of mentors and coaches, rather than micromanagers thus making it a vehicle for continuous performance management. Opportunities for growth and forward momentum are discussed, and the road forward is mapped during Conversations. Ongoing education and additional training are identified and implemented.
How to Make an Effective OKR Template?
There are a few different things to keep in mind when creating an OKR template:
- Objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART)
- Objectives should be aligned with the company's overall strategy
- Key Results should be quantifiable
- It's important to set a mix of objectives that are attainable and ambitious - if all of your objectives are too ambitious, you're likely to become discouraged, but if they're all too easy, you're not likely to make much progress.
Once you've considered these things, you can start creating your OKR template. There are a few different ways to do this, but one option is to use a spreadsheet or word processing program like Google Sheets or Microsoft Word.
Another option is to use a dedicated OKR software tool, which can offer additional features and functionality beyond what a basic spreadsheet can provide.
If you're not sure where to start, Objectives.com offers a free OKR software tool that can help you get started.
How to conduct a CFR Sprint?
Communication, Feedback, and Recognition (CFR) Sprints are a great way to give your OKRs a human voice and promote accountability, transparency, and collaboration within your organization.
A CFR Sprint is a short, focused period of time (usually two weeks) during which everyone in the company focuses on communication, feedback, and recognition.
During a CFR Sprint, everyone in the company should be encouraged to give and receive feedback on a regular basis. This feedback can be about anything - work-related or not - and can be given in any format, from face-to-face conversations to written memos to digital messages.
CFR Sprints are also a great time to recognize people for their achievements. This recognition can be in the form of verbal praise, awards, or other type of acknowledgement.
By focusing on communication, feedback, and recognition during a CFR Sprint, you can create a more human and connected work environment that will help everyone feel more engaged and motivated.
Ready to get started with CFR Sprints? Here's everything you need to know:
- CFR Sprints should be short (two weeks or less) and focused periods of time during which everyone in the company focuses on communication, feedback, and recognition.
- During a CFR Sprint, everyone should be encouraged to give and receive feedback on a regular basis.
- CFR Sprints are also a great time to recognize people for their achievements.
- By focusing on communication, feedback, and recognition during a CFR Sprint, you can create a more human and connected work environment that will help everyone feel more engaged and motivated.
CFR Sprints are an excellent way to promote accountability, transparency, and collaboration within your organization. Give CFR Sprints a try today to see how they can help take your OKRs to the next level!
Why CFRs are crucial for hybrid work
CFRs enable leadership of what needs to be accomplished. Remote work has done away with ad-hoc information we used to gather from unstructured conversations throughout the physical interactions we had daily. So the frequent use of CFRs allows a safe space for employees to ask questions of clarity and propose approaches. Here leaders can better understand the additional resources and supports that the employee needs that are “below the radar” of most leaders.
It ensures visibility, not the way OKRs provide in terms of who is working on what, but allows employees and team members to feel seen and heard. Physical cues were a huge indicator in pre pandemic times, but attaining such cues may have gotten more difficult due to remote work.
Lastly, in the shift toward asynchronous work - recognition within CFRs help enable teams and employees to have the confidence to work in an autonomous and accountable manner.
In times when remote workers could be feeling isolated or poorly supported on what they were supposed to do, try establishing company instituted CFRs at the team and employee level.