Rules for Formatting Organizational Charts
What Purpose Will the Organizational Chart Serve?
Why do you want to draw an org chart? That may seem like a silly question, and it may have a seemingly benign answer: "Because my boss told me to" or "Because the org chart we have is outdated." But chances are, that's not the real reason. It's important to know how the org chart will be used. Here's why.
The format you choose for your org chart and the information in it may depend on its purpose. For example, if it is to be used to plan a growth or change strategy, you may decide to make a completely different org chart than if you're putting together a visual company directory.
Here are three examples of how organizational charts are structured differently depending on their purpose:
How to Format an Organizational Chart
There are a few general guidelines for creating an org chart. Following these will ensure that your org chart is professional-looking and achieves its purposes.
The most common arrangement for a standard organization chart design is a combined horizontal/vertical layout. In this diagram, the boxes in the level under the top position are arranged in a horizontal row. Under these positions, boxes are aligned in vertical columns. Here's how it looks:
As you can see, the combined horizontal/vertical layout uses the space on a page much more efficiently.
If there are several positions reporting to one manager, a multi-column branch style is a good way to present this.
Some positions, such as assistants and co-managers, require specialized formatting.
When co-managers lead a team or department, they are shown with connecting lines above and below their boxes. Those positions reporting to the co-managers are then shown on a vertical branch under the joint positions, as shown below.
Best practice tip: All of the boxes in an organization chart should be the same size. In some cases, the top position may be larger than the others, but in no case should they be smaller than those below.
Content to Include (or Exclude) in an Org Chart
How you intend to use your org chart will be a key driver in determining what content to include in it. For example, if management is looking at a corporate restructuring, the only content you may need is key positions and, perhaps, names of key people. When doing this, it is considered best practice to place the job title above the individual's name because positions define the organizational structure, not the people who currently occupy them. If someone is promoted or moves to another department, this allows you to change the names of the people holding those positions without having to rearrange the org chart.
You can add other content into the org chart, as well. Telephone numbers or email addresses are common additions. Headshots are another element that can be particularly useful if your org chart will be used as a company directory.
The Manager with More than One Department
Suppose in a small technology company, Paul Smith, the CEO, also acts as VP of Engineering. Both the management team and all of the programmers report to him. So, how do you show this?
Instead of engaging in exotic formatting, it's best to draw both positions in the chart and show Paul as occupying both of them. Remember the organizational structure is based on positions, not the people that occupy them. Following this simple guideline will give you a more functional org chart.
This also shows how an org chart can be useful for planning. This one suggests that perhaps, some day, Paul should hire a VP of Engineering.
The Employee Who Wears Multiple Hats
The other type of multiple-hat situation is an employee who is directed by more than one manager. While it's not unusual for an employee to work in several teams and take direction from more than one manager, there is usually just one position to which they report. This is the position that hires them, sets their salary, and is the (one) position they report to in an organization chart.
But there are exceptions. One common example is an assistant that works for three managers. How do you draw an org chart that shows these multiple-person relationships?
The best way to show relationships outside the hierarchy of a normal org chart layout is with a dotted line connecting the boxes of two positions.
Jane reports to Dan because he sets her salary and hired her. This connection is shown with a solid line. But she assists Tony and Linda, as well as Dan. Therefore, when drawing an org chart, her connection to their positions is represented with a dotted line.
It's not useful to try and impose the structure of multiple teams on the organization chart with lots of dotted lines. Too many and the chart becomes a mess. If this is the case, then it's better to create a separate org chart for each team. A team chart shows the role of team leader in the center with the other team members and their roles surrounding it.