In this article we want to remind what OKRs are, explore the CFRs as the human side of OKRs, and review them from the PMO perspective.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for ‘Objectives and Key Results’ and is an agile framework for defining and implementing organisational strategic goals. It consists of two main elements:

  • Objectives: What I want to achieve.
  • Key Results: How we know that the goal has been reached; the metrics we will check.

Typically, we set up 3-5 objectives, each with 3-5 key results, developed in 3-month cycles.

We can also identify a further level, the initiative or project level, answering the question: How do I achieve the desired output? These are the projects supporting the outcome change.

What are CFRs?

However, to succeed with OKRs, it’s not enough to apply the framework and processes. We need a crucial element to support OKR practice: the CFRs (Conversations. Feedback and Recognition). CFRs aren’t separate from OKRs; they are intrinsically related.

While OKRs define progress, CFRs provide the communication system to guide people. CFRs exist to help individuals navigate their OKRs, providing transparency, accountability, empowerment, and teamwork necessary to achieve ambitious goals. CFR gives OKRs the personal and human elements required for effective leadership and teamwork and ultimately helps us deliver the change that the project or programme was designed for in the first place.

We say that CFRs are the human side of OKRs.

What are the elements of CFRs?

CFR is a two-way communication system, from manager to contributor and vice versa.

Let’s explore in more detail the main components of CFR:

  • Conversations: One-to-one conversations build relationships and create the trust needed to realise the full potential of OKRs. These conversations between managers and contributors focus on OKR progress, potential issues, and assisting to overcome them.
  • Feedback: Feedback is related to performance. It’s helpful to approach feedback as coaching, providing guidance. Feedback is most effective when provided early and frequently.
  • Recognition: Recognition is often the most overlooked part, as we tend to focus on day-to-day problems or keeping things moving forward. However, it’s a crucial factor for personal motivation, and it fulfils the fundamental need for appreciation of the individual. Celebrating and sharing both small and big wins ensures motivation.

How do you implement CFRs?

CFRs are a way to approach all your interactions, not only with the team, but also one to one communication.

While these three elements are separate, they don’t necessarily need to follow a specific order or always cover all three sections in every interaction. However, viewing them as a guide is helpful to ensure your communications are balanced.

The first tip is to ensure we conduct CFRs frequently by scheduling short meetings to discuss them. While it may sound like an additional bureaucratic workload, it’s not. We don’t want to report the status (this is done during the weekly check-ins).

It’s about checking if things are progressing well, identifying the need for assistance or advice, and expressing appreciation.

We can schedule CFR meetings to align with the OKR cycle, but in general, it could be beneficial to hold one CFR meeting per month for each 3-month cycle.

Suggested questions to ask during conversations:

  • How are you progressing with your OKRs?
  • Is there anything blocking the progress?
  • Do you need any help?
  • Are the goals you are working on motivating?
  • Which skills do you want to develop to help with goal achievement?

Provide specific, actionable, and frequent feedback.

Suggested questions to ask when doing feedback:

  • How can we increase our chances of success?
  • Is there anything we can do differently to be more successful?
  • For Recognition, don’t wait until the end of a cycle or performance review to show appreciation; acknowledge wins frequently.

How do you implement CFRs for the PMO?

It often seems challenging for PMOs to create an environment where we actively engage with OKRs and CFRs, as they are rarely involved in their delivery. However, from a #HumanFirst perspective, there are things we can do to bring the process to life.

  • As integrators, we communicate with the delivery managers and their teams. So rather than adding to their PMO touchpoints, utilise the regular schedule you already have to ensure that CFRs are part of the conversation (ie. heathchecks, stage gates, review meetings).
  • If you are going to schedule something specific, be clear what the meeting is for, its objectives so the individual doesn’t come into a meeting with PMO with the wrong expectation.
  • Learn to focus on the individual in interactions and the project’s outcome.
  • When providing feedback, make it valuable to the individual and the project.
  • Share successes within your community.

And the obvious one, is (yep you guessed it) as you change your ways of working make sure that you identify your OKRs, and utilise the CFR model to ensure that consumers of your PMO Services will use them confidently.

Read more about this here.


When effectively combined, CFRs and OKRs create an efficient continuous performance management system that helps the organisation to achieve their ambitious goals and develop the full potential of their individuals.

If you would like to learn more about OKRs, PPM tools, or how Wellingtone can help improve your PPM capability, please get in touch with us.


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Monthly Newsletter

By: Emma Arnaz-Pemberton

Emma Arnaz-Pemberton
Consulting Director FAPM, MCMI, MPMI, MIoD PMO-CC, MoR, MSP, PRINCE2

Published: 4 March 2024

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