The Best Way to Prepare Managers to Communicate Change

Let’s say you’re about to introduce a program that requires managers to be involved — perhaps a revised performance management process or a new way to calculate employees’ year-end bonuses.

Or perhaps you’re be planning a big change — like restructuring the organization — that will affect both managers and their team members.

The question is this: How do you make sure that managers are comfortable with what’s changing? And that they’re prepared to communicate about the change with their team members?

Of course, you need to brief managers so they have an opportunity to learn about the change. But you also need to provide them with a tool that helps answer their questions, while equipping managers to answer questions from their employees.

That tool? I’m glad you asked: Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs. Here are 11 tips about FAQs, presented in a FAQ format:

Q: Who is employees’ most trusted source of information?

A: Their manager, of course.

Q: What prevents managers from communicating?

A: There are several reasons, but here’s a key obstacle: Managers aren’t knowledgeable about the topic they’re being asked to talk about. And managers hate to be put in the position of saying, “I don’t know” when an employee asks a question.

Q: What’s the best way managers the knowledge they need?

A: Hold a meeting — invest at least 90 minutes — to brief managers on the topic. Allow plenty of time for managers to ask questions. And then provide managers with an FAQ document.

Q: What are FAQs, exactly?

A: FAQs provide the questions employees are likely to ask, along with the answers managers need.

Q: Why FAQs and not a PowerPoint deck or briefing document?

A: Most of the time when a manager communicates with team members, he/she is not presenting; he/she is having a discussion. Think of all the times a team member stops the manager and asks, “Got a minute for a quick question?” FAQs prepare him/her to address a team member’s questions and concerns.

Q: When should you create FAQs?

A: Any time you have a topic managers need to communicate. For example, let’s say your organization is undergoing a reorganization or other big change. Or there’s a change to benefits or pay. Or it’s time to start the performance management process for the year.

Q: What’s the best way to develop questions for an FAQ document?

A: Start by determining what questions managers (and their team members) will really ask. Think about the change from their perspective: How does it affect their work, and what’s in it for them?

Q: How detailed should questions be?

A: The more precise your questions are, and the more details you provide, the more managers will understand the content and find FAQs useful.

Q: How candid should answers be?

A: As honest and transparent as you can possibly make them (while still getting approval from legal counsel and other cautious types.) If FAQs seem too packaged and cautious, they’ll lose their credibility and their value.

Q: Anything you should avoid?

A: Don’t use “corporate speak.” Instead of writing in a formal tone, be conversational — create answers that sound like how a manager would speak.

Q: Where can I learn more about FAQs?

A: Download this free guide.

Originally published at



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