Anticipate the questions, prepare the answers

Employee communications tools

FAQs

Purpose Typical audience Pros Cons Can you do it yourself? Thinking points
Enables a single, definitive set of answers to commonly asked questions All DSM colleagues (especially useful as a support tool for people managers) Easy to create with a little teamwork You need to ensure that the FAQs don’t get out-of-date Yes How do you handle ‘difficult’ questions? Maybe do some role-play…

What is this tool?

An FAQ document can be an invaluable tool when introducing something new or managing a change. People will inevitably have questions: thinking in advance about what these might be will also help you to shape your proposition and ensure you answer them consistently!

What and when is it typically used?

Check out the comparison notes below and weigh the pros versus cons. This will help you decide how to spend your time/ money for the best result.

Benefits

  1. Enables consistent messaging, no reinventing the wheel.
  2. Saves time.
  3. Helps you prepare.
  4. Also helps prepare your key communicators.

Challenges

  1. Needs updating periodically.
  2. How do you handle tough questions?

How to use this tool

  • In a small group, think about the questions you might be asked. Put yourself in the audiences’ shoes. Maybe even role-play it?
  • Develop answers (either do this as a team or assign colleagues to come up with specific answers).
  • Get together with your team and test-drive the answers. Do they ‘stand up’? Are they authentic?
  • Arrange approval of the answers from your project or topic owner(s) - especially if there are sensitivities.
  • Develop a document, ideally with version control (word document) or upload online (eg, SharePoint or Teams).
  • Share it with your audience.

Things to keep in mind

  • It does take some time to prepare…but ultimately it saves you time in the long run, because:  
    • FAQs provide definitive answers to key questions, with no reinvention of the wheel.
    • They help people managers feel comfortable and supported when communicating their topics.
    • FAQs can ensure that helpdesks or support teams avoid getting inundated with the same questions.

KPIs for this tool

How will you know ‘what success looks like’? Measuring the response to this channel /tool could give you a better understanding of whether you’ve reached your communication objective. KPIs can be qualitative or quantitative. Here are some ideas:

  • If the FAQ is hosted on a digital platform, check the number of views.
  • Perhaps you can even see this at the question level.
  • Add a functionality to ‘like’ specific answers. A show of thumbs up will demonstrate which questions are the most important to your audience.

Final thoughts

If this a stand-alone initiative, then go ahead! However, if this is part of a wider initiative, you might want to take a step back and look at the broader communications perspective. A good starting point is our 9-step approach to creating your communication plan - which includes an overview of all the internal channels and tools.

Read more

  • Writing Guide

    Our aim is to help you write clearly, consistently – and creatively – in a way that is relevant to your audience (whoever they may be).

  • SharePoint

    The perfect ‘digital destination’ when used for providing comprehensive content on a given topic.

  • Teams

    Suited to smaller virtual meetings including one-on-ones.

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