Organograms 101: everything you need to know

Organograms are a treasure trove of information for navigating an organization and making strategic decisions. Here’s how to tap into these insights.

Criado pela equipe do Slack19 de julho de 2024

Effective internal communication and collaboration hinge on interacting with the right person and having the contextual information to support a fruitful conversation. But that’s easier said than done, especially in a large corporate environment or remote work setting where knowing who’s who can be a full-time job.

The answer might be lying in plain sight: your company’s organogram (or organizational chart) can be a treasure trove of information. Let’s explore what an organogram can do for you, how to create one and how to make the most of it.

What is an organogram?

An organogram, or organizational (org) chart, is a visual representation of an organization’s structure. It shows the hierarchy and relationships between managers, employees and departments. These diagrams can be simple, showing the top-level hierarchy, or complex, with detailed information about various management levels, departments and sub-units.

Uses of company organogram charts

Besides visualizing reporting relationships, a company organogram can support the following:

  • Employee onboarding: Help new hires understand the organizational structure and how they fit into the big picture.
  • Succession planning: Spot business scenarios in which key executives might leave the company, and prepare for shifts in the workforce.
  • Staff directory: Make employee information readily accessible so team members know whom to contact with questions or issues.
  • Cross-departmental collaboration: Clarify the responsibilities of a cross-functional team to improve communication.
  • Internal hiring: Highlight open positions to increase transparency and encourage internal career advancement.

Three main types of organogram

When you create an organogram, choose a format that reflects your company’s structure. Let’s get to know the three main types of organograms:

1. Hierarchical organogram

This structure has one leader at the top with multiple levels of employees below. The degree of authority is highest with the person at the top (e.g. CEO or president) and decreases as you move down the hierarchy.

Credit: Creately

2. Matrix organogram

A matrix organogram shows how employees might report to more than one manager within an organization. For example, a graphic designer may report to the chief creative officer and the team leads of projects they’re working on. While powerful and rich in context, these can get outdated quickly.

3. Flat organogram

This structure works for organizations with minimal management levels, where most employees are working independently. It’s common in smaller companies, where autonomy, creative control and employee empowerment are often prioritized.

Organogram vs. organizational chart vs. organigraph

Although these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some distinctions.

  • An organogram is the broadest of the three and encompasses various visual representations of an organization’s structure. It might include charts and diagrams to illustrate relationships, roles and hierarchy.
  • An organizational chart focuses on the hierarchy and relationships within an organization, using boxes to show positions or roles and lines to indicate reporting relationships, communication channels and the chain of command.
  • An organigraph is a drawing, picture or map depicting complex and often overlapping relationships among different entities in an organization. While similar to an organizational chart, it tends to put less emphasis on linear hierarchy.

Who can use an organogram?

The short answer is: everyone! For example:

  • Executives and leadership teams can gain a big-picture view of relationships among different departments and positions to inform strategic decisions.
  • Department heads can see how their business units fit into the larger organizational structure and goals.
  • HR professionals can use the information for workforce planning and talent management, like identifying staffing gaps, organizing recruitment and analyzing reporting structure.
  • Managers can see how team members are involved in cross-functional teams to balance workload.
  • Employees can understand the reporting hierarchy and see whom they report to or collaborate with.
  • New hires can quickly see where they fit into the organizational structure and integrate into the workplace.

How organograms improve workforce engagement

A clear and accessible organogram provides transparency on reporting structure and team compositions to empower employees and foster a sense of belonging.

Workforce planning and management

HR departments and executives can use organograms to identify skill gaps to support hiring decisions, assign the right people to the right roles, distribute workload evenly to avoid employee burnout, and plan for future growth or restructuring.

Visualizing organizational structure

A visual representation of the organizational structure helps concisely communicate complex hierarchical relationships, empowering employees to find opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration.

New-hire onboarding

An organogram facilitates new employee onboarding by showing them a bird’s-eye view of the company’s structure, reporting lines and key contacts. It also helps them understand how they fit into the big picture.

Succession planning

Companies can use organograms to identify potential leaders, key roles and talent development pathways to ensure business continuity and retain institutional knowledge as key roles shift.

Cross-departmental collaboration

Organograms illustrate how various departments and teams are connected to provide the information to help foster collaboration among cross-functional teams, which can also encourage innovation.

Internal employee directory

Incorporating an organogram into your communication tool (such as with Slack Atlas) gives employees a quick reference to identify colleagues, team members and supervisors. It also provides contextual information, like a team member’s professional interests or skill set, to facilitate productive conversations.

A step-by-step guide to creating an organogram

1. Identify key positions and roles

Define the organizational structure and determine the reporting relationships and hierarchies among different levels and departments. Engage with key stakeholders like department heads and HR to ensure the accurate representation of roles and reporting structures.

2. Choose an organogram type

Your organogram’s structure can help you highlight certain aspects of the company and communicate your values and philosophy. Choose an organogram type (hierarchical, matrix or flat) that best reflects your organizational structure.

3. Choose the right organogram tools

Use software that allows you to build a dynamic organogram and easily update it as your organizational structure evolves. It should also support collaboration, allowing multiple contributors to work on the organogram simultaneously. Our top picks include Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart, Creately, Clickup, BambooHR and

4. Work from top to bottom

For most organizations with a hierarchical structure, it’s best to start by filling in the leadership team at the highest level of the organogram. These people have the most influence and external visibility and play a critical role in the company’s operations and success. Then, progressively add lower-level positions and cascade down to cover the organizational hierarchy.

5. Add profile details

Add key information about each position, like name, job title and a brief description of responsibilities. You might add employees’ headshots, external links and fun facts. When appropriate, details can help teams get to know each other and build rapport. However, it might not be relevant for external stakeholders.

6. Pay attention to design and formatting

Maintain a consistent design throughout the organogram for clarity. For example, use the same shapes, colors and formatting for similar positions or levels. In a complex organogram, you might need to move elements around to optimize visual clarity (for example, minimize overlapping lines, which could be confusing). Finally, take into account whether employees are most likely to view the information on their phones, monitors, tablets or printouts.

What to look for in an organogram tool

Choose an organogram design tool with a user-friendly interface and drag-and-drop functionality so people with varying technical capabilities can build and manage organograms. It should also offer pre-built templates for different organizational structures and communication needs to give you a starting point and help you save time.

Consider the customization options for creating organograms that match your organization’s visual identity. Look for real-time collaboration features, such as chat, for multiple people to work on the chart simultaneously. Your organogram software should also integrate with other productivity and communication tools, like Google Workspace and Slack, to facilitate seamless workflows.

A good organogram maker should allow you to add detailed information to each position and offer robust search and filter functions. Additionally, think about security features, like access controls, to protect sensitive employee and organizational information.

Tips for managing organograms

Organogram charts are living documents that evolve with your company.

  1. Keep them up to date. Revisit them often to ensure that they accurately reflect the company’s strategic direction, business needs and changes in the organizational structure. This includes new hires, departures, promotions and restructuring.
  2. Track changes. Implement version-control mechanisms to track changes and integrate with HR systems to automate updates. Also, track all changes and the reasons for revisions for audit and reference.
  3. Provide context. Create training materials for employees to understand how to interpret and best use the information in organograms.
  4. Communicate regularly. Keep stakeholders informed of changes to your organogram. Include context and precise details to ensure clear understanding.

The power of organograms in your collaboration tools

Organograms give context to everyone at an organization, enhancing relationships and collaboration. But they’re only as good as your ability to access the information. That’s why we created Slack Atlas, a native dynamic org chart and reimagined employee directory that highlights useful context about colleagues and structure. Learn more about Atlas and see how to get started.

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