What is an Org Chart?


An example org chart

An organization chart or "org chart" is a diagram that shows who reports to whom in an organization.

The name and title of the leader of the organization occupies the top box. In the example above, this is Paul Smith, CEO. The names and titles of the people that report to the CEO are shown in a row of boxes on the next line. Connecting lines between these positions and the CEO show the reporting relationship.

Continuing down the org chart, we can see that the people in the positions shown on this second row have others who report to them. Each job position in the organization is represented by this structure of boxes and connecting lines.

This arrangement is called a hierarchy. An organizational chart is a diagram that shows the reporting hierarchy of an organization.

Team Organization

Some organizations resist the idea of a reporting hierarchy and prefe to visualize themselves as project-focused teams. In the team model each employee may be a member of more than one team and hence appear to report to multiple leaders.

Teams are represented by a team chart with the leader at the center.

Team chart

There is no conflict between these two models. They can certainly co-exist within an organization.

Who Reports to Whom?

Every employee in an organization typically reports to someone. That one person is who sets their salary, handles vacation requests, and so forth. The reporting relationship between those two positions is what's displayed in the organization chart.

Don't try to represent teams with dotted lines on an org chart. Trying to indicate team relationships in one organization chart by drawing multiple lines from one box to each team leader leads makes it very difficult to read and defeats the org chart's purpose. Use separate team charts instead. Direction by other team leaders are best represented by team charts that supplement the organization chart.

What Information Should Be Shown in an Org Chart Box?

Typically the title of the position (the job title) and the name of the person who occupies that position are shown each box in the chart. The best practice is to show the title above the name, because it's the positions that define the organization, not the people who currently occupy them. You can change people within positions without changing the special arrangement of the chart.

Position

You can add other fields to a box too. Adding a phone number is one common addition.

Add fields

The Format of an Organization Chart

Organizational charts have a number of rules that govern they way the boxes are formatted on the page. These are described in more detail in the article, How to Draw an Org Chart.

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